Thursday, August 18, 2011

The cost of connecting



For 3 years I have been a nomadic expat, for 3 years I have battled to find an easy accessible and cheap way to connect while on the road.  Why?  Well I don't always stay in hotels where internet access has now become part of the package, although not all hotels offer this service for free and for those who do I am eternally grateful.

Holiday flats also offer the option of connecting to a specific service provider but at quite a hefty fee for a holiday maker who needs to be connected at all times.  
Try use an internet connect card from your service provider and you may as well mortgage your home for your trip as well.  Lucky are those who have their corporate accounts to keep connected anywhere in the world.  For the small business owner, or the employees who do not have this as a company benefit when travelling, good luck.

I often travel to destinations where I can vacation with friends or family or simply reside in holiday apartments which offer space and convenience.  However, it requires me devising improved ways of connecting with the outside world with the required connection speed. In my efforts to find better solutions, I have converted most of my family members to broadband and wifi in their homes. Back at home base and I am comfortably settled into my unlimited bandwidth and if I am disconnected for the odd reason or two, I can frequent a hotspot to complete my work without fee payments or bandwidth worries.

Some of the countries I have visited have proven impossibly difficult to obtain easy, accessible and convenient pc cards. One of these was South Africa, I was confronted with the requirements for the variety documents to obtain a simple sim card to connect to the internet ludicrous.  Once I had acquired a card it was immensely expensive, I was buying airtime nearly every 2 days at an obscene expense that eventually became unaffordable.  

Fast forward to our first visit to Cyprus, we bought a sim card for our Vodafone laptop connection. It did not work, it would not work due to the fact that we bought the USB Vodafone modem in South Africa, and it proved not to be compatible with the Cyprus Vodafone sim card.  Please explain that?  We had to go through a local service provider to get ourselves set up, in the interim we used a connection in the hotel at great expense.

This year I have looked for hotspots to connect to on my travels, this is relatively inexpensive if you can find the right hotspot with the right service provider. In some countries you find free hotspot points in parks, in others I have found them in airports, coffee shops, restaurants, Bed and Breakfasts, hotels, and hospitals to name a few. You just have to know where to look and then seek and find.

So although there is no simple solution to travelling and having instant internet connection at a normal local rate and in the area you have decided to reside in for that moment, you can find hotspots and some service providers in some countries that are user friendly, cost effective and a lifesaver.

What are your thoughts on connecting when on the road?

I have listed some service providers below that provide payable hotspots :