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Pocket WiFi Hotspot

I'd like to hear someone's experiences on getting a portable wifi hotspot for travel in Europe. I have a Verizon JetPack/MiFi that my company gives me for business in the states and I love it - I'd love to have something similar for my travels in Europe coming up. Some people have suggested buying an unlocked one in the states and picking up a SIMM card for data only over in Europe. I'll be predominantly in Italy this trip, but travel to EU countries (and Switzerland) relatively frequently so I'd like to buy rather than rent. I do have an International plan on my TMobile iPhone that allows a decent amount of data on the phone (but at limited speeds and absolutely no tethering/hotspot).

Posted by
5011 posts

When are you going?

I have rented a pocket wifi on multiple trips to Japan and I loved it. Not cheap, but totally worth it IME.

We have a 3-week trip to Europe coming up next week and I was mulling over options. Last week I decided to spring for a SkyRoam device. It's been on the market for a while so not the newest technology, but it looked "good enough." The primary advantage of this device is that it works (just about) anywhere. You do have to purchase data ("unlimited" data day-by-day, $8 per day if bought in bunches of 5 days; $10/day if bought day-by-day). But it handles all the switching to local networks transparently - basically, every time you arrive in a new country, it just auto-switches to the fastest available network in that country. The actual speed you get will depend on location - it'll use the fastest cellular connection that it can find. Supposedly works across many dozens of countries in Europe, Asia, the Americas. Google "Skyroam".

I bought one last week, it arrived yesterday. Within hours of opening the box, I saw online that they had just introduced a new model 2 days ago (while mine was in transit) - d'oh!!! Typical luck for me - as soon as I buy a new toy, it's old.

New model is a bit more expensive to buy, supports 4G LTE (so faster - in those places it can get a 4G LTE signal) and includes an integrated power bank to charge other devices, otherwise appears to work the same way the previous unit does.

I shrugged and ordered the new unit this morning. Assuming that it does arrive here before we leave next week (delivery is promised 2 days before we depart), and assuming it does work as advertised, we will use it on our upcoming trip in Netherlands, Italy and Czech Republic (and we will return the older unit, probably on the way to the airport!).

I will report back on how the experience was after I get back in early October.

Posted by
505 posts

We used Skyroam on our recent trip to spain. There were four of us and it covers up to 5 devices.

Although not as fast sometimes as the wifi in certain areas, it was great for having connectivity when we were out and about.

With that and WhatsApp, we only needed to make one phone call.

Posted by
55 posts

I rented a Skyroam (the unit was actually Tep) for my spring trip to France, Netherlands, and U.K. It worked flawlessly so I decided to buy one, the old 3G one, for my Christmas trip to London, Budapest, and Munich. It worked well enough that I didn't see any need for 4g or the power pack that's part of the new unit. What I liked was the ability to connect 5 devices and you only pay for a 24 hour day that you use so if I'm on my cruise and just use WiFi, those day credits stay in the "bank".

When I first rented I thought about buying but figured technology would change too fast. Once I saw how it worked, and the price dropped to $80, with 3 days of service, I figured why not.

Posted by
9 posts

I have used FreedomPop mifi 2 in several Europe countries. The problem with any wifi hotspot is the large amount of data used by app updates and polling. Phone setting allows update data limiting only on cellular. There is no setting for halting data hogging updates on hotspot wifi. You will have to set each app to only update and poll for new mail, etc. whe you manually request it.