The Connected Traveller.

The fast moving pace of technology development, together with manufacturing volumes, has brought enormous computing power to even the casual user at affordable prices. Most of us carry a mobile phone with more computing power than a ten year old desktop PC. The wider adoption of mobile devices adequately caters for business, pleasure and casual use on the move……when connected to a network. I own many mobile devices that in the main work perfectly when connected to my home or office networks but travelling poses more of a problem. My reason for writing this piece is to impart my experiences and solutions when travelling for leisure. MobileKit

My everyday requirement is to have a telephone signal and it is typical that when I’m staying at a hotel or campsite, voice coverage is pretty poor outside of larger population areas. Although some models of mobile phones have better radio capabilities than others, I have found that Vodafone tends to have the most reliable service across devices. Orange, now EE, ThreeUK and O2 I find are average depend on your geographical location. Vodafone with O2, and EE with T Mobile, share masts, Three appear to have their own network (edit- Use EE masts for voice calls in weak coverage areas). but there is a move to merge all networks onto each mast around 2015 to further improve coverage. However I find that I use voice less and less so rely mostly on 3G or when available, 4G data connections for email, browsing etc. The unpredictable availability of these networks led me to try some alternatives.

For work, I have no  choice,  it’s Vodafone. Call quality and coverage is good, but data connectivity, in my experience, is the worst network. For personal smartphone use, I have a Sim only, monthly contract and a Pay as You Go Sim on ThreeUK, Anneli is currently with EE and we have two tablets using GiffGaff “data only” Sims piggybacking the O2 network. For data connection whilst travelling this offers a choice for network coverage. Moving recently to the Three network from EE has added 4G connection when available for no additional cost but also the recently introduced Feel at Home feature. This includes calls and text messages made and received, to and from the UK in selected countries using your standard call plans, plus limited data connection. For us, we travel to France and Sweden often and they are included. Another recently introduced Three feature is an app for selected smartphones, Three in Touch which enables calls and text messages over a WiFi connection if the cellular network is unavailable.

MiFiWhen travelling with the Motorhome, campsite locations tend not to be in very good network covered areas, so two providers expands the possibility of obtaining a connection. Also, WiFi connectivity on sites is quickly becoming more available and, noticeably in France, with increasingly free access. Often a login code is required to limit use to patrons which is where the Motorhome WiFi becomes a “must have”. This excellent package connects to and boosts the available WiFi signal and up to five devices can be connected to it. Once set up and your devices registered to it, the available WiFi network only needs registration on the MiFi. Think of it like your home router but connected to WiFi, not a cable. If the WiFi service is chargeable, often the connected devices are hidden behind the MiFi so only one payment is required to supply all the MiFi connected devices.

Although I am fortunate, within reason, to be able to purchase and experiment with various gadgets, i’m not that keen to spend cash with the network operators. I buy outright my phones and tablets from the cheapest suppliers and choose Sim only plans from the networks which works out much cheaper than ” free” or small up front charged phone deals. Usually the phone or tablet can be sold on, even to the recyclers, which reduces the life cost of the device. Often the Sim only plans are on a rolling monthly contract, so if usage changes, your plan can be changed easily. GiffGaff is particularly good for this, you manage your own plan online, even changing from call plans to data only plans, month by month.

For more information on the networks go to Kens Tech Tips:


If you choose to try GiffGaff sometime, using the links in this article or clicking the ad in the side bar, at the time of writing, we each get £5 of airtime credit.

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