Rick's Consumer Report on a Wi-Fi Hotspot Rental

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Perhaps you've noticed how regularly I've been posting to my Facebook page. Part of the reason is this year I've had the luxury of my own portable Wi-Fi hotspot device. (Telecom Square gave me one to use for my travels this season, and I'm flying to Israel with one next week.) Here's my take on the experience:

You can now travel with a tiny hotspot that frees you from messing with the gobbledygook of getting online while on the road. Telecom Square rents a handy little unit about the size of four fingers called a Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot that works virtually everywhere in Europe (and most of the rest of the world too). While it's not cheap, the convenience, reliability, and luxury of being online anywhere and anytime in my travels makes it a great value for a traveler like me.

There are a few different rental options. You can get a single-country plan with unlimited data for about $13 a day or an all-Europe plan (with 1 GB per month in 40 countries) for about $10 a day. Or you can spring for the "World Wide Wi-Fi" plan which gives you unlimited access almost anywhere (which is what I had) for about $25 a day. That's about what many hotels and airports (that still charge for Wi-Fi) cost.

The downside: When you rent your own hotspot device, you need to pay every day you have it, whether you use it or not. The upside: You have it right with you and are nearly always able to connect with loved ones or business associates back home (assuming you're not in some Wi-Fi hole where nothing can connect). A further advantage: It allows you (and anyone with you) to connect up to five devices at the same time for no extra cost. I experimented this year with this portable hotspot on our tour buses (while I was on our Scotland tour). We're considering using something like this in the future as a standard feature on our buses so that up to five tour members at a time can be online during long rides.

All over Europe, it's routine to see travelers scavenging free or cheap Internet service--in hotel lobbies, sitting on the floor at airports outside the VIP lounge door, and wasting valuable shore time while on cruises. I personally am tired of putting on my clothes at midnight to ride the elevator down to the hotel lobby to get online.

Now, with the luxury of my own private mobile hotspot, I can get online without fiddling with login credentials, petty payments here and there, and worrying about time limits. And, since a single hotspot allows access for up to five devices, my travel partner and I can have all our gear--smartphones, laptops, and tablets--online as we like and need. I've been online--communicating, working, or being entertained--on taxis, buses, trains, and cruise ships. I've used it in airports and even in cafés overlooking remote beaches. I also appreciate the device even in hotels where online access is free because my signal is often stronger and faster.

These devices are easy to use and hold their charge a long time. You only need to sign in once because your computer will remember the device every time. Getting online is as simple as turning the power on. To learn more, visit

The portable Wi-Fi device in my hand keeps me connected to the Internet anytime and anywhere.