As the Technical Director of F8 I would like to think I have a pretty good grasp on technology and how it works. When I had my Blackberry I never had issues with International Roaming Charges. The Blackberry was ultra efficient in its usage and I was very conscious not to open attachments. That coupled with the awful internet browsing and no Apps meant I never used the internet or played games on my BB. It was pure email only and as a result I could spend a week or two overseas and my bill would increase a few hundred Hong Kong dollars.
Then came the real smartphones… the Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxies which changed all that. Suddenly there were devices that browsed the internet quickly with a decent screen that meant all the information was readily at my fingertips. I could check football scores and weather forecasts and play any number of pointless games that took my mind of the things I should really have been focusing on. I could even watch last nights X Factor competitors on You Tube. This was great in Hong Kong as everyone has unlimited data plans and we can surf, browse and play to our hearts content. I wont even mention how easy it was to now take photos of the food you are eating and post it to facebook. Don’t ask this just seems to be a big thing here in Hong Kong.
Then came the first business trip… aha I said to myself (yes talking to ones self at least guarantees an audience of one) better be smart and not use any of those apps or browsers to keep the bill down… So one week in Singapore and I had done exactly what I used to do on my BB and just checked emails… Upon my return to HK I get a bill for two thousand Hong Kong dollars…. This can’t possibly be right I think so I take it up with the phone provider only to find that in the background all my apps are still doing their thing and pushing data to and fro. You learn a few things from this….
- 1. Restarting the device does not necessarily stop all the apps from running as they tend to restart automatically.
- 2. Closing the Apps is a one by one process which is tedious and 95% of people have no idea how to do it.
Solution was easy they said… switch of international roaming they said… but my email will then stop I said. The frustrations were immense until one day whilst window shopping in the computer centre I came across a little device called a Mifi. Now Wikipedia reckons that MiFi stands for My WiFi but it could also be Mobile Wifi…. The later probably has more meaning to most people….
This little device is small and fits in your pocket or HandBag or Murse (Man Purse) whichever you happen to have and has turned out to be a fantastic little product that every traveler should have. Concept is easy. You buy this device and then upon landing in a foreign country you buy the first Pre Paid Data Sim Card you can get your hands on. Plug it into the device.
Connect your phone (switch off international roaming and switch on WiFi) and laptop to it and enjoy WiFi connectivity wherever you are in that country that has a 3G connection signal (I mention this as a trip to New Zealand last year highlighted to me that most of the country has zero 3G connection).
Recently in Thailand I purchased a 1 Week Unlimited Data Sim Card for US$10. Myself plus 2 colleagues lived of this device for the entire week. Simply brilliant. I honestly cannot say I have found a product recently that provides as much useful functionality and solves a real life problem like this one does. Everyone I speak to hates international roaming charges and has a horror story or two to tell. You can take precautions but you end up having a device that is effectively useless. I can say that this MiFi device has changed the way I utilise my SmartPhone when travelling as it should for any serious traveler who is cost conscious.
There are a few tricks with the data sim card. For instance in Singapore you need to purchase one with your passport. In England the initial purchase is easy but adding value can be problematic. I am sure there will be some countries which prove troublesome to get it working but to be honest so far so good for me in the countries I go to.
If you would like more information on these devices or advice on data roaming and how to reduce it please feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are in Hong Kong or Singapore and interested in our general services of IT Support please call me on +852 6277 0800 and we can set up a meeting.
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