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Broadband abroad

4G mobile broadband makes it possible for USB dongles, laptops and desktops to be connected to the internet wherever they are, as long as they can connect to a mobile network. You can take your computer on holiday with you, work from home, or have one connection that you ferry between two or more locations.

How can I access broadband internet abroad?

Mobile broadband is accessible anywhere that a mobile network has coverage. When you go abroad your mobile phone will connect to the strongest network, and the same is true with 3G and 4G dongles. If your preferred UK network is not available, it will divert to the strongest domestic one.

Some areas will have blackspots, but on the whole, the majority of the UK and Europe is well covered. For more information on these settings, refer to your manual or network provider.

Wireless broadband is another option in many destinations, with Wi-Fi hotspots common in hotels, coffee shops and public areas. Through wireless-enabled devices, you can access Wi-Fi very easily in most European cities. Some cities even offer city-wide Wi-Fi free of charge, such as the Barcelona Wi-Fi network.

Of course, if you prefer to travel without your devices, you can usually still find internet cafes. Cheap and cheerful though they may be, however, internet cafes do not offer the 'anytime-anywhere' flexibility often sought by heavy-use business and personal users.

What are the charges involved?

A ruling from the European Union has brought down the price of surfing on the go to make it more accessible than ever before. Starting in June 2017, roaming charges within the EU will be removed completely. In the meantime, however, mobile broadband charges vary depending on which broadband provider you are with and which plan you have.

Internet cafe and Wi-Fi charges vary, too. In many places nowadays, Wi-Fi access is free, but in others, it isn't cheap. Check your hotel before booking to make sure their Wi-Fi is free as some accommodations may still charge guests to access their Wi-Fi.

Tips for accessing broadband on holiday:

Check whether your mobile broadband provider can offer you broadband coverage in the country you’re going to. If they can, mobile broadband is likely to be the most cost-effective, reliable and efficient option. Your provider may even offer short-term roaming packages to ensure you're covered during your trip.

Make sure you research your options before you travel to make sure that you make the most of your trip and are not left out on a limb with no connection or hit with excessive usage charges. Book places with free Wi-Fi, or search the internet for cafe recommendations that offer free Wi-Fi.

If you are going on a low-budget holiday or are worried about the security of your laptop on your travels, internet cafes may be your best option. They tend to be extremely cheap and suit those who only need to access the internet intermittently.

Moving abroad?

If you're moving abroad, you'll want to start researching providers to get a more long-term solution.

  • USA: Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink are the main brands of American broadband.

  • Australia: iPrimus, TPG, Belong and Optus are some of the big players in the broadband market in Oz.

  • Spain: Movistar (or Telefónica), Ono and Jazztel are the main broadband providers in Spain.