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?