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Planning a trip to Europe later this year that will definitely include Italy, and will most likely include the UK, Germany, and a smattering of connecting and/or distractingly shiny countries. Here in the US, I have both a 4G and 3G mifi and it would be nifty to keep that kind of connectivity while I'm traveling. Both of those gizmos are US-only. My connectivity affects my ability to work while traveling, so it's no exaggeration to say that I'll stay an extra month if I can solve this issue.

I know the trick of landing with an unlocked phone and shoving in a local SIM card, but it's a pain to figure out tethering options for my laptop, which is my #1 priority. (#2 priority: Google Maps.) Are there no-contract providers for this kind of usage?

Question 1a) Alternately, are there EU grace periods for returning a phone and getting a refund? In the US, you get 14 days to return a cell phone.

1b) If the answer to the above is "no", as it would be in the US, are there better options for widespread wifi hookups than Boingo?

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4G? I didn't think that existed yet. –  Rory Oct 18 '11 at 9:36

5 Answers 5

Answers to 1b: Depending where you go, you can use FON. The only requirement is that you share your internet connection at home through fon, and you have many wifi access points worldwide.

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In Germany I recommend buying a pre-paid SIM from a provider called simyo because they allow you to tether (so do a number of other providers, but with simyo I'm 100% positive because I use their service on a regular basis).

39 euros buys you unlimited calling to all landlines and mobile networks within Germany (including text messages) plus unlimited internet at a fairly slow speed of GPRS (56 kpbs?). My experience is that you actually get 3G speeds of up to 3.5 mbps unless you go beyond 1 gig of data.

Oh, and 13 cents for text messages worlwide.

There's a catch though. They will only allow you to top up in chunks of 15 euros, so you have to spend 45 to reach the 39 euros.

If speed is very important, you could always forego the "free" calling and buy a 30 day flat for 14.90 euros that includes 3000 megs at up to 7.2 mbps (beyond which you will still be surfing for free, but at the reduced GPRS speed).

You can order online if you understand rudimentary German: https://www.simyo.de/tarif/flat-internet.html

You might also be able to get their SIM cards in a number of brick and mortar stores, but I can't say with certainty.

Good luck and enjoy your stay in Germany and the rest of Europe!

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tethering settings for simyo on iphone: APN: internet.eplus.de user: simyo password: simyo –  Daniel Oct 13 '11 at 16:46

In Europe you still need a separate SIM for every country (unfortunately). In the uk it is really easy to buy a "pay as you go" sim for your phone or a pay as you go dongle for your laptop. If you don't have a 3G modem just buy one of these. Its easy to google some sites that offer comparison: http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=3g+pay+as+you+go+internet

The best deal will depend on what you need.

Buying these should be really easy - there are lots of high-street shops everywhere that sell mobile phones, sim cards and these dongles, and can offer advice.

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What sort of phone do you have? If you get a smart phone you might be able to use the standard data connection on it over wifi as a wifi connection. (It's like 'tethering' but more so). I know most android phones can do this, and I think so iPhones.

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At the high end of the market, unlimited internet is available via iPhone trip for many countries both in Europe and the World. You can either purchase 1GB in total or "unlimited" (really 7GB per day). For Europe the prices are $8.99 per day (1GB) or $13.99 per day (unlimited). For World, the prices are $11.99 (1GB) or $14.99 (unlimited). You also have to pay (reasonable) shipping costs for the SIM. There is a discount of 10% for trips that are 2-4 weeks and 20% for trips that are longer. The unlimited could actually work out to quite good value if you had a few friends tethering off it.

To be able to make calls, you have to pay extra per day - without any calls included! Although they provide an iPhone style micro-SIM, there are converters to convert it to a normal SIM card.

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