Internet access while traveling has been a primary topic of ours for many years. But we’ve only traveled in the US. Now we’re on a trip visiting friends in England and we’re taking the opportunity to learn about Global Internet access.
Three Ways to Get Internet Overseas
- Use local Wi-Fi hotspots. Turn off the phone’s mobile data, or turn on Airplane mode.
- Use your cell provider in Roaming mode. Depending on your provider, this can be very expensive (Verizon) or included at no extra charge like with T-Mobile.
- Buy a SIM card from a local provider and put it in your phone.
Cellular Voice and Data Service while in England
When I turned on my Verizon phone after landing in London, I got the message: Allow Data on this trip? If I said Yes, there would be “substantial” charges. Or, they gave a number to call to arrange for a global plan. A global plan from Verizon would have cost us $25/100 MB. Since we can use 100MB in less than an hour that was not the plan for us!
Jim’s iPhone on T-Mobile rang while we were walking through a field near Cambridge. It was someone from Virginia who had dialed his normal, Florida-based phone number. They chatted for a while and took care of business, without even knowing where we were.
Jim’s Nexus 6 appears to be his phone of choice. This was the device he used for Google Maps to navigate from Cambridge to Methwold, and from Bexhill to Belgium. While I was feeling quite out of sorts not being able to access any internet resources on my Samsung, not even a local map.
While at our friends’ house, we were able to use their Wi-Fi. For the couple of nights we stayed in a hotel, there was good, free, Wi-Fi available, and several of the pubs and restaurants we visited also had free Wi-Fi. But, this didn’t help when we were in a car or on a boat.
A SIM card is the “Subscriber Identity Module,” a tiny card that establishes the connection between your phone and the cellular service provider. Once it is installed your phone has a new phone number and data service. In England, you can buy SIM cards at the checkout line in the grocery stores! The card only costs $1.50, then you install it and call the cell company to add $30 worth of service for 2-4 GB of data for the month. Here is our member video on installing a SIM card:
When we returned home, we presented our weekly show, What Does This Button Do? using Internet Connections Abroad as our focus. Here’s the show: