by Durant Imboden
Many of us rely on Wi-Fi connections these days when we're traveling with notebooks or tablets. Wi-Fi can also be a huge money-saver for smartphone users who travel internationally, thanks to Skype.
There's only one downside to Wi-Fi: finding a hotspot when you need it. Tep Wireless, a British company, has come to the rescue with tep pocket wifi. The device, which looks like a TV remote, connects to the Internet via local cellular phone carriers who have signed 3G network agreements with tep. For a relatively modest daily fee, you can access the Internet 24/7 without roaming charges.
How it works:
First, reserve a tep pocket wifi online at www.tepwireless.com. (The price includes rental of the device and data access. Rates vary by destination and length of rental, but the cost is much lower than you'd pay for data roaming through your phone carrier. Best of all, you get unlimited Internet access in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and the UK. In the other 11 countries that tep serves, you're allowed 50 Mb of bandwidth per day.)
Tep will deliver the pocket wifi device to addresses in the UK, Continental Europe, or the USA. Alternatively, you can pick it up at London's Heathrow, Gatwick, or Stansted Airport or in central London.
At the end of your trip, you return the tep pocket wifi device in a prepaid, pre-addressed envelope.
Also available: tep smartphones
Tep also rents prepaid smartphones that give you a local number and let you make calls or send texts at domestic rates.
For more information about tep pocket wifi and smartphones, visit tep wireless's Web site at www.tepwireless.com.
(Note: We haven't had a chance to try tep's services, but I hope to field-test the tep pocket wifi device in Italy next month.)