*Updated Feb 2015 with new discounts when you sign up for TOTmail!
The one important thing most travellers need in this digital day and age? It’s travel wi-fi: Access to the Internet, or just a plain ol’ wi-fi connection. According to studies, lots of people choose to stay connected while on a trip, whether it’s because of work or just staying in touch with friends and family, wi-fi availability has great impact on one’s trips these days.
I usually switch off my phone’s 3G and data when I travel just to ensure I don’t incur any extraneous charges. There have been too many stories of people unknowingly racking up hefty bills! So then you’re left with the option of free wi-fi, where it’s a bit of a gamble – the connection can be pretty spotty at times and open networks mean safety is also an issue.
I was approached by the folks from Telecom Square, a Japanese company, to test out this particular product, the Wi-Ho, which is essentially a personal wi-fi router or a ‘dongle’ that you can carry around to ensure you have secure wi-fi access wherever you are.
I have 3G connection in Singapore on my mobile phone, but I tested out the Singapore device, which had a pretty stable connection with Starhub with decent speeds. The good thing is that it also saved my phone battery, which I usually to tether to my laptop through personal hotspot on the go and can drain pretty fast.
Upsides for travellers are:
- It’s pretty easy to use. Turn it on with the press of a button, flip it over and use the password to login and you’re all set.
- No worrying about finding foreign SIM cards – especially when you’re on a short trip and you don’t want the hassle of buying one!
- You can tether up to 5 devices per unit – so if you’re travelling in a group, you can split the cost! Of course the speed will slow down accordingly if you have more people sharing the bandwidth, but better than not having anything at all right?
- One flat rental rate at S$8-12/country/day (depending on country, $25 for round the world!), unlimited data access! No more worrying if you’ve exceeded your bandwidth and are racking up enormous charges.
- Pick it up and return it in Singapore* – If you’re too busy running around, 2-way delivery of the device to and from your house is S$16. Payment is through credit card via their website. (Feb 2015: I’ve removed the earlier info about airport counters as they no longer provide that service – you have to courier or pick up from their office in Robinson Road. A pity because I thought the airport counter bit was what made it super convenient)
Not that there aren’t any downsides:
- Battery life – it lasts about 4 hours or so if you leave it on, so unless you’re plugged in all day in the room, I suggest using this only as and when you need to, like when you’ve stopped for a quick break and social media posting, or you need a map or website for directions. You can get an extra battery that will double the usage time, but it’ll cost an extra $3/day
- Each device works only for one country due to the service provider, so if you’re hopping around to several countries, it might not be so efficient for you… Current countries available are Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Australia, Japan, India, China, Hong Kong, USA, UK. Full list here.
So, if you’re interested in signing up for Wi-Ho, check out their website here.
Updated Feb 2015: Telecom Square is kindly offering some awesome discounts exclusively to my Singaporean readers, which includes S$1/day discounts and free shipping of the device (u.p. S$16!) That means at least S$17 in savings, which is nothing to sneeze at because every saving counts when you travel. You will need to be signed up for TOTmail to enjoy the perks, so scroll down to the TOTmail sign up below and do so if you haven’t already!