Little secret: I have a friend who accompanied me on the Ultimate Train Challenge from Lisbon through to Eastern Europe. This friend was quiet, unassuming, never demanding, hooked me up when I was looking for company, helped me get my work done, and was sexy as all hell.
Tep was my little buddy, and he sat in my pocket and gave me WiFi access whenever, wherever I needed it. If there was a 3G signal, I was hooked up.
Tep helped me find my way out of a confusing area of Granada by enabling my iTouch to connect to Google Maps and determine where the hell I was. (Mental note: getting a general idea of the neighbourhood you’re walking around is wise before you hop on a bus and supplant yourself somewhere totally foreign).
And Tep made my train travel (oh so much train travel) productive by getting me online – even sometimes at 150km/hour.
I was a little overwhelmed by the time I reached Lisbon to meet my fellow Ultimate Train Challenge teammates and put the finishing touches on our preparations. There was a lot of work to do, and constantly being on the move over about 25,000kms for the following month was almost incomprehensible.
So when Jeannie whipped out our Tep Pocket WiFi devices and suggested we test them out, I nearly had a meltdown. Although the promise of wireless internet through Europe was alluring, I was skeptical, leery, and dreading the inevitable setup process that would surely eat up hours of my valuable workday in Lisbon.
So you can imagine my surprise when we were fully operational within five minutes – and that’s a generous estimate.
Setting up the Tep was literally as simple as turning it on, finding the network on my computer, and entering in the password on the back of the device.
It was love at first click.
Tep Wireless provides Portable WiFi in Europe. It’s a great way to be connected without worrying about roaming or long-distance charges. I’ve heard way too many horror stories of people taking their iPhones on vacation and coming home to the souvenir of a lifetime: a phone/data bill tallying thousands of dollars.
I found the service to be relatively reliable. It’s only as good as where you travel; if there’s no cell signal, then don’t expect magic. But if there’s a signal, you’re good.
The Pocket WiFi even acts as a little “hotspot”, which allowed me to connect my laptop and iTouch simultaneously; up to five devices at once.
I did run into some difficulty in Barcelona, which lasted a day before I could get to a phone to contact their help line. But the remedy was quick and painless, and after rebooting the device again, I was off to the races.
How to Get Tep
Getting the device is as simple as ordering it online or over the phone, having it delivered to your home or European destination (or a designated collection point such as a UK airport). Returning is is just as easy with the prepaid return envelope.
Tep offers service in 16 European countries, with coverage in the US and Australia coming down the pipe.
You can choose the package that suits your needs best, it’s all paid for by credit card on a pay-as-you-go or pre-paid basis with no contract, and it’s pretty easy to track your usage so you don’t go over any limits. Beware though: there are some hefty fees per/Mb of overage, and even “unlimited” plans are subject to “Fair Usage” policies, which means heavy downloading or streaming is out.
But as long as you can survive without porn for the duration of your trip, you should be golden.
I’m happy with the Tep Wireless Pocket WiFi, and found it invaluable during the Ultimate Train Challenge. Frankly – I’m not sure what I would have done without it. Thanks, Tep!
Thanks to Tep Wireless for hooking me up with a Pocket WiFi device at no cost for the European leg of our Ultimate Train Challenge journey. Without sponsors like you, this whole thing wouldn’t have been possible.