A UK-based data roaming company says it believes renting modems and smartphones will become as commonplace for international travellers as hire cars and flight bookings.
Tep Wireless provides business travellers visiting Europe with a rent-a-modem service so they can avoid huge data roaming bills imposed by their home telco.
Like the excellent Droam service we wrote about recently, Tep's pocket 3G/Wi-Fi modems connect to the Net through a 3G mobile network and rebroadcast that signal via Wi-Fi to your laptop, smartphone and any other Wi-Fi-enabled gadgets you're travelling with.
However, for people who just want a smartphone that works on their travels, while keeping their main Australian phone on standby for incoming SMS and emergency phone calls, Tep also hires out smartphones loaded up with a Tep SIM card.
Tep's roaming service extends across 16 countries:
- the Czech Republic
- the Netherlands
- the UK
Customers can sign up for one service which works across all 16 countries but is limited to 50 MB per day, or opt for unlimited internet in the UK, Italy, Spain and Germany.
Pricing depends on how long you need the service for, although the daily rate declines the longer you use it.
For example, rental for a two day trip in the UK will cost £18.75 ($28.12), which is $14.06 per day; but a six week rental will only cost £74.95 ($111.93), which works out to be $2.20 per day.
You can get a quote on your trip here.
The pocket 3G/Wi-Fi device is delivered direct to the customer's home or hotel; can be picked up at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports; or collected from the Britain & London Visitor Centre in the London CBD.
Customers return the rented device by post, using a prepaid envelope, and all personal data is erased from the device.
The Tep Wireless rental model is certainly something we'd like to see travel agents and airlines offering as an add-on thing -- the high costs of data roaming with Australian mobile networks means it's very restrictive to travellers.
You can get more info at Tep's website. They also have a launch promotion -- 15% off for people who use the code teplaunch in the checkout system.
Dan is a tech enthusiast who frequently qualifies for enhanced airport security screening due to the number of cords and gadgets stuffed into his cabin bag.