Using data and phone abroad has always been a problem for me. There’s several options out there, but each have their own pros and cons:
- Pay the absurd fees Verizon Wireless (my carrier) charges and go bankrupt.
- Use a SIM card and have the hassle of having to buy it when I get over there, and then having to swap it into my phone and out, and never have the luxury of my own phone number. Or, buy a pre-paid phone.
- Use a paid WiFi hotspot (more on this a bit).
- Never use data and rely solely on hotel internet (not so convenient)
When I was up at the New York Times Travel Show a few weeks ago, I spoke with a representative from Comm Global, a company that specializes in affordable, convenient data for use abroad. When they mentioned they would give bloggers a sample trial of the service, I offered to use it on an upcoming trip to Milan.
What is Comm Global?
XComm Global is a mobile hotspot you carry with you (it’s small and very portable). You turn it on and it communicates with the cell towers to produce a relatively fast and strong WiFi signal, which your phone connects too. It includes unlimited data, which is a really nice benefit.
In short, one day before you’ll trip you receive the device in the mail. Then, you take it with you on your trip, use it, and return it within one day after your return using a pre-paid envelope.
Here’s how Comm Global advertises their product:
- Avoid Roaming Charges
XCom Global lets you avoid roaming charges with an international Wi-Fi hotspot and prepaid flat-rate data usage plan that works best for you.
- Big Savings
Access maps, e-mail, and your favorite apps when you travel abroad for a fraction of the cost other major carriers charge for international data service.
- Private & Secure
Travel with confidence knowing that your mobile hotspot rental plan provides safe and secure international Internet access in over 175 countries around the world.
How do you use the phone? I’d recommend connecting and dialing via Skype, since it’s cheap, and runs off of the WiFi signal this device produces.
What does it cost?
$14.95 a day plus a $29.90 round-trip shipping fee. Add $3.95 a day for insurance. You can view more of their pricing plans here.
What’s included with the package the send you?
- An instruction and set-up booklet
- The Comm Global WiFI device
- An international charging port and cable
- 2 sets of batteries
Was it worthwhile?
Yes, and no. Because the trial I was using sent to me for free, I didn’t have to pay for shipping. However, I can see shipping as a huge cost and as a deterrent to use the product. That aside, paying around $15 a day for unlimited data seemed worthwhile for me, though I’ve heard several complain at the price being too high, which I wouldn’t necessarily argue against.
When I got to Milan, I simply turned on the device, which promptly connected with a signal. Then, using the password on the device, I access the WiFi hotspot on my phone and I was connected.
One battery lasts about 4 hours, and 2 batteries are provided in the case (you’ll need them if you are out for the day).
I’d strongly consider getting this device again, just out of simple convenience, and the fact tat I’ve tried it and it has a good signal, and that’s important to me.
Is $15 a day expensive? Yes, it is. But, you’re paying for convenience, which comes at a cost – in this case, I would strongly consider it worth it, though, for me, the shipping and handling cost does bother me.
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