Home › Forums › Other › Recommendations for an economical tethering data plan for travel (international?)
- This topic has 12 replies, 6 voices, and was last updated 6 years, 7 months ago by gzz.
October 23, 2016 at 4:34 PM #22165October 23, 2016 at 4:56 PM #802562
Which countries will you be visiting?
You’re never going to get an inexpensive international plan from a US carrier. Your best deal will be to buy a prepaid SIM card when you arrive at your destination. There is a (San Diego based, coincidently enough) company that sells an international roaming SIM card, but their prices, while better than the US carriers, are still very expensive compared to buying a prepaid SIM card in-country. http://www.telestial.com/international-sim-cards.php
So that’s the SIM card half of the equation. As for the device, most smartphones have a tethering option built in, where the phone acts as a personal WiFi hotspot for you, while accessing the cellular data network.
One important note: you can only use a different SIM card in a phone if the phone is “unlocked.”
Many wireless carriers subsidize some or all of the upfront cost of a cell phone by building that cost into the monthly subscription. So when they say “free phone with 2 year contract,” the phone isn’t free, its cost is just being amortized over the two year subscription period. And obviously they don’t want people to get the free phone, cancel the service, and switch to another carrier. So to prevent this, the phone is electronically “locked” to not recognize SIM cards from other carriers.
So you need to figure out whether your phone is locked or not. If you have had the same phone with the same carrier for 2+ years, many carriers will unlock the phone for you for no charge.
There are more clandestine ways to unlock locked phones, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole just yet.October 23, 2016 at 5:24 PM #802564
If you don’t want to buy a local SIM for every country, read on …
Carriers have no good way to enforce tethering limits — getting rid of enforcement on a given (rooted) device is trivial:
http://android.wonderhowto.com/how-to/enable-free-wifi-tethering-android-marshmallow-0167832/October 23, 2016 at 5:30 PM #802565exsdgalParticipant
Hatfield, Thanks for the details. I do have an unlocked device. I will look into telestial to check for possible SIM card options.
My immediate need is for Canada, and in Europe it will be UK/France/Germany. During my last trip I tried a Fi device, it worked great for calls/text but not as much for tethered data.
In my online search the best I found was https://explore.t-mobile.com/t-mobile-one, and a contradicting support question here – https://support.t-mobile.com/thread/93412?start=0&tstart=0.
I am with AT&T, so am a bit hesitant to jump the T-mobile wagon. Unless there is a benevolent Pigg who will adopt me for a TMO additional line subscriber 🙂
Planning to visit the stores this week to check if there are any cheap alternatives.October 23, 2016 at 6:00 PM #802566
Assuming you’re not interested in rooting/jailbreaking your phone, your best bet is to go with a plan that allows tethering. There’s no need to switch wireless providers, just buy prepaid SIM cards and switch back to your AT&T SIM when you get back home. If it’s going to be an extended trip, ask AT&T to suspend your service while you’re away.
Googling “canada sim tether” and “uk france germany tether” got me these:
Also, the fine print states that T-Mobil’s prepaid SIM cards allow tethering in Canada: http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-internet
UK/Europe: http://kenstechtips.com/index.php/best-sim-cards-for-using-smartphone-in-europeOctober 23, 2016 at 6:57 PM #802567cvmomParticipant
I have Tmobile, and although the coverage here is not superb, I have been amazed by the free coverage outside the US at no cost. Texting and 3g (sometimes 4g) internet service is free. Calls are reasonable, my memory is 20 center per minute. I used to pay through the nose for Verizon coverage outside the US and it is wonderful to have free coverage practically everywhere, like 180 countries or something.October 24, 2016 at 9:06 AM #802571exsdgalParticipant
Hatfield, you just made my day! Thanks for the awesome links. I have couple of viable alternatives for the trip.
cvmom, were you able to connect laptop using the Tmobile coverage outside of the US?
spdrun, thanks for the introduction about rooted device. I am not yet ready for such a solution. One of these days I will attempt this option on an older device to see if I can get a low cost hot spot for my in-laws place (who refuse to have any form of connected device except for the landline)
What else can I say – when my googling fails, piggington to the rescue. Thanks everyone.October 24, 2016 at 9:21 AM #802572
If THEY need Internet, you’re better off just buying a hotspot and plonking it down somewhere in their home — you can get 2GB of mobile data for $20/mo.
If YOU need Internet at their place, make friends with the neighbors and throw them a few shekels (or good food) in exchange for a WiFi password 🙂October 24, 2016 at 11:33 AM #802580cvmomParticipant
[quote=exsdgal]cvmom, were you able to connect laptop using the Tmobile coverage outside of the US?[/quote]Yes, we have tethered via the Tmobile connection many times while outside the US. And you just can’t beat the cost. We pay $90 (plus taxes) for 3 phones with 2GB 4G data per phone per month, unlimited everything else including 3G. And the 4G data outside the US, when available, does not count against the 2GB per month limitation.October 24, 2016 at 12:07 PM #802581
Problem is that T-mo has made all NEW plans “unlimited 4G” but with heavily throttled tethering. Starting price, $70 per month.October 24, 2016 at 7:00 PM #802603
We seem to be drifting afield again.
OP is with AT&T and presumably wants to stay with AT&T. But OP is looking for a wireless option for international travel, and a prepaid T-Mobile SIM looks like a pretty viable solution. Buy the sim card, use it for the trip, topping off as necessary, and resume using AT&T upon return home.October 26, 2016 at 10:48 AM #802661afx114Participant
Check out Google Fi: https://fi.google.com/. My buddy signed up for it while in UK and it cost him like 2 bucks for 2 weeks of data. He would even set up his phone as a hotspot and let me use it with my iPhone. Easy, cheap.October 28, 2016 at 1:42 PM #802733gzzParticipant
My very dated experience is just buy a sim card in the foreign country at a 7 11. For your laptop you can get USB modems for under $10 and put the sim in there. Or in your phone and tether.
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