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Getting Online While Travelling Around Britain

Getting Online in the UK

If you’re planning on travelling around Britain but want to stay connected while you do so, there are plenty of options available to get online.

While the UK doesn’t have 4G mobile broadband yet, there are plenty of cost effective 3G mobile broadband options with great coverage across much of the Britain, either via a dongle or mobile WiFi. There’s also plenty of Wi-Fi, as well as smartphone options too.

Getting online in Britain if you’re coming from abroad

You have several options once you arrive, but one thing holds true no matter where you’re visiting from: broadband and mobile phone roaming charges are astronomical and best avoided for all but the richest traveller, or incredibly infrequent user. So what are the more cost effective options?

  • Wi-Fi – Whether in hotels and B&Bs or cafes and bars, Britain has an extensive Wi-Fi network. As competition increases to add value, the amount of free Wi-Fi is definitely on the up too. However, many places will still charge with some hotel Wi-Fi still being extortionate, so do your research before you travel if you can.
  • Smartphones – The UK has a thriving and ultra competitive smartphone market, with a lot of great pay-as-you-go (prepay) deals available. You can pick up a low end Android smartphone for less than £50, while Three Mobile offers all-you-can-eat data for a £15 top-up, letting you surf unlimited your whole trip for a reasonable fee.
  • Dongles and mobile Wi-Fi – Dongles (you may know them as mobile internet modems) and mobile Wi-Fi (or MiFi) units are now common in the UK, with prepay dongles ranging from less than £10 (or £60 for a MiFi unit). Data bundles can be added in either daily/weekly/monthly instalments, or per GB, with prices ranging from just £2.

Of course, if you’re going to be travelling to the UK and other countries frequently, you may want to consider either a smartphone or 3G WiFi dongle that can take multiple SIM cards, or an unlocked handset/MiFi you can put any foreign or home SIM into.

Getting online across Britain if you’re British

While the above options will still of course be viable, we’ll assume you already have at least a mobile phone contract in place so shouldn’t have to jump through as many hoops.

If you have a mobile but not a smartphone and want to use such a device to get online while travelling, your mobile network should be able to offer you an upgrade if you’re on contract. If you’re a pay-as-you-go customer, as above, you can find a smartphone now for as little as £50 new (less if you shop around, or go second hand – just be sure your SIM will work).

Exactly the same applies for mobile broadband, although you may want to consider a one-year contract instead of prepay. You won’t have to pay a huge price, you’ll always have it as an option, and it can serve as a back-up to your home broadband too.

About the author: Chris Marling writes on behalf of www.broadbandgenie.co.uk, the independent comparison website for broadband, mobile broadband and smartphones.

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