Before attending Mobile World Congress last month, I was a bit concerned that online access would be an issue. Not only is it ridiculously expensive to roam on 3G internationally, but WiFi service typically either carries a steep service charge, or it’s impossible to get decent speeds when the service is free — assuming you can even get on and stay on without being booted off.
This year I had the opportunity to try a MiFi from XCom Global, or rather two of them. Since we had minor layovers in Portugal flying each way, XCom Global sent one MiFi that was marked Spain and one that was marked Portugal.
XCom Global offers wireless broadband internet service to, and it is reassuring to know that wherever you are you’ll have unlimited data access — assuming that you are in an area that has cellular coverage, of course.
Getting set up is a straightforward process of filling out an online order form telling XCom when you will be traveling and which countries you’ll be in. There’s no extra fee to add a second country, but there is a “multi-country trip surcharge” if you are visiting more than two countries and will need more than two modems. FedEx will deliver your modem (or modems) to you before your trip begins, and upon your return the modem (or modems) will need to go back via the included prepaid FedEx envelope.
Once we had arrived in Barcelona, I was pleased to find out that I had solid coverage. We got lucky because our flat had included WiFi, but when we were at MWC events having the MiFi along meant the difference between being able to get work done as needed or having to upload text and pictures later. Even in the event pressroom, the wireless access provided for us was spotty, slow and unpredictable. Having the XCom along as a backup made getting online painless and easy.
While it’s true that many hotels and rental flats worldwide offer wireless internet, sometimes it can come with an unusually steep surcharge. When my daughter Sarah and I stayed at the Hilton in Amsterdam, we paid a daily charge of EUR 25 for each of our laptops, and I have noticed that is also a pretty common thing elsewhere. Being able to pay a single fee per day to get more than one wireless device online is essential when traveling for business or pleasure. I can’t imagine leaving the country again without bringing along an XCom Global rental modem. Their rates are affordable, and there are no surprises; that is priceless when traveling.