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Broadband abroad

3G mobile broadband is the technology that made it possible for USB dongles, laptops and desktops to be connected to the internet wherever they are. You can take your computer on holiday with you, work from home, or have one connection that you ferry between two or more locations.

4G is a newer mobile broadband technology does much the same as 3G and is just as portable, but is much faster.

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 an increasing number of destinations, with WiFi hotspots popping up in many hotels, coffee shops and public areas. If your laptop is wireless-enabled, you can access WiFi very easily in many European cities. Some offer WiFi free of charge, for example: the Barcelona WiFi network.

  • Internet cafes. Cheap and cheerful though they may be, internet cafes do not offer the "anytime-anywhere" flexibility often sought by heavy-use business and personal users.

What are the charges involved?

Mobile broadband charges vary depending on which broadband provider you are with. However, an EU ruling has brought down the price of surfing on the go to make it more accessible than ever before.

Internet cafe and WiFi charges vary too. In some places WiFi access is free (such as coffee shops, hotels or educational institutions) but in others it isn't cheap.

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.

  • It is worth researching 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.

  • 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?

USA - AOL (America Online), Verizon, AT&T, BellSouth, Road Runner and Time Warner Cable are the main brands of American broadband.

Australia - Optus, Bigpond, DoDo, Virgin, Intermode and Netspace are the big players in the broadband market in Oz.

Spain - Telefonica, DSL Spain, Avonline and Direct Telecom are the main broadband providers in Spain.