‘Let’s go travelling’ she said. ‘Ok, I replied, Lets. And then I thought, holy schmokes, we consume over 30 gigs of data per month …in a house!!! ( and no we don’t download movies). How do we manage that in a motorhome travelling Europe? We can do without TV but Data… man we need loads. We bank, we trade, we communicate, we acquire knowledge, we research, we investigate….we need data…
Having done a bunch of homework ( on t’interweb), spoken to a few peeps at shows and chatted to a friend who had installed an Oyster sat system ( cost 3k plus) and said it was’t worth the investment (expensive contract plus slow download speeds) we opted for the following:
- A Huawei E5577C mobile hotspot device that connects to the mobile telephone network and provides 3G and ( where available) 4G internet connectivity using a sim card that you purchase from a network provider such as O2, Three or vodaphone.
We had 4G aerial added to the roof instead of manually taking an aerial out of a drawer sticking it to the outside of the van and running cables through a window and plugging them into the cigarette lighter socket on the dash.. ( what a pfaf). So with the mobile hotspot nicely tucked away in a cupboard and wires all neat and tidy, that was the hardware bit sorted.
Now for the software. We researched what the service providers were offering and ‘Three’ came out miles ahead with their ‘feel at home’ package. Whilst not entirely suited to a full time abroad magical mystery tour it did offer a solution. Here are the details. As at February 2016 they offered;
- A prepaid sim card with 12 gigs of data usable in 20 countries at £30 each. We bought 7.
- A contract of £20 per month for 12 gigs of data to be used abroad ( in the countries designated)
So for £50 pounds a month we could get 32 gigs of data if we could fiddle their system. And their system included the following restrictions:
- Once activated ( in the UK), you could take them abroad and you had 60 days to use up your allowance.
- They were valid for 1 year
- The contract sim had to be used in the UK after 60 days.
- There were only 20 odd countries signed up to the package
As we had no intention of returning to the UK every 60 days I gave a friend of mine 5 of the 7 prepaid sims and a mifi unit I had spare and asked him to activate 2 of the cards at a time and send them to me in the post ( at a campsite we were staying in).
So with 2 active prepaid cards and a contract sim we set off on our travels loaded with 44 gigs of data sim cards all ready to go. Santander, our first port of call gave us an opportunity to test out my clever plan. In went the first prepaid sim card and on went the MIFI hotspot. A minute later up came the spanish ‘Movistar’ network, on went the two arrows ( upload and download) and hey presto we had internet. And good internet to boot. Movistar is deffo the network to log onto…( In Spain). And the spanish mobile network is very impressive. Wherever you look there’s a mast giving you a signal in the remotest of areas.
As we moved into France we found that Bougytel seems to provide the best network for connectivity. Masts aren’t as plentiful as in Spain but we haven’t been unduly cut off form the outside world.
Just as I was preparing my ‘muttley’ snigger at my cleverosity, disaster struck. I gave my friend the wrong postcode for the campsite and two sim cards (£60.00 worth) went missing in the post….AND we couldn’t get online easily… campsite WIFI being as hit and miss as it is.
So, off to the Orange shop to buy a local prepaid sim card. Bougytel don’t do em, SFR were out of stock so we ended up with a ‘blank’ sim card (€14.00) from Orange that you had to go to the ‘Tabac’ shop network to get charged up. ‘Which Tabac’s? I enquired suspiciously in the Orange shop. ‘All, of them’ the sales assistant replied confidently..
The first two shops didn’t have a clue what I was talking about but I hit success with the third. 25 euros gets you 3 GB of data for a month which is something at least. It kept us in emails if nothing else. But then…. Bingo! The simcards arrived at the campsite were were staying in a month earlier and as I had left a prepaid envelope with them they kindly forwarded our sim cards on. We were data munching once again.
So, if you need loads of data, get yourself a ‘Huey’ and some ‘Three’ prepaid sim cards… Check out the link.