Tuesday, October 31, 2017
I had a recent business trip to Europe and needed internet access for email, texting via Google Voice, maps, Whatsapp, etc. At first I tried to add it to my prepaid plan, but my plan is so cheap that it doesn't even qualify for the option to add international data and texting, even for a short period.
Enter Tep Wireless. The process was pretty simple and I rented it for a week. About 3 days before my scheduled trip, I received it in the mail and fired it up and was able to connect my phone to it directly. The hotspot was set to work in Europe, so it had no internet yet at my home until it was activated for the first day of my trip. The package also came with an envelope to send back the hotspot when I returned home.
Pleasant surprise: The hotspot itself came in with a charger that is built with an international power plug adapter with a plug in port and a USB-out to charge the hotspot. This came in quite handy at the hotel to plug in the work laptop.
Coverage: For the most part, data access was decently quick, ~11Mbps download, and worked in most of the places I went, certain dead zones appeared as would any mobile device would see. Everything that I needed to work, worked. There was a few hours where the hotel wifi wasn't working, but I was able to use Whatsapp and video call the family with the Tep hotspot without any significant slowdown or issue. Color me quite satisfied.
Battery life: depends a little on your data use, but after about 6 hrs of moderate use the device went from 100% -> 30%. I had my Anker Powerbank with me to charge it back and keep me connected through my workday without any problems. When charging and using data, the device could get pretty warm, as expected.
Price: At about $9/day, the price is pretty reasonable, especially if you travel with multiple people with many devices (phone, tablet, etc).
One drawback that I noticed, the hotspot is a little slow to boot up. Meaning, it will take a minute or two to turn on, boot up, find connection, and connect your devices. Once I realized this, I opted to keep it on most of the time and have it connected to the power bank to charge periodically rather than deal with the wait to start it up.
Overall, this device is pretty good for travel, especially if you have multiple devices to connect and would rather not pay for adding international text and data to your cell phone plan. I would definitely look into using this again, even for personal use.