There is nothing worse than having to scurry around for a Wi-Fi connection when you’re traveling. It is even worse, when it comes to traveling abroad, those Wi-Fi hotspot costs can add up fast. Globalgig aims to change all that by offering an international mobile hotspot that you can use abroad. This concept is hardly new, as there are other companies that offer similar mobile hotspot rental devices, but Globalgig has a few aces up its sleeve. For starters, their data rates are very cheap – as cheap as paying for domestic data only! Also, instead of renting, you actually get to keep the Globalgig mobile hotspot device.
Pricing for Globalgig is crazy competitive, so much so that the rates are practically the same as domestic data rates. You get 1 GB for $25, 3 GB for $39, and 5 GB for $49. And that is with no contract, so you can use and pay for the service as needed. For reference, Verizon charges $25 per month for 100 MB of data, while AT&T offers tiered plans - $30 per month for 120 MB, $60 per month for 300 MB, and $120 per month for 800 MB, charging $30 for every 120 MB you go over the limit. Furthermore, other international hotspot rental companies generally offer much higher pricing schemes. For example, Xcom Global charges $14.95 a day for use of their mobile hotspot.
You will have to pay for the actual Globalgig hotspot device, which will cost you $119. But we prefer being able to own the unit, as opposed to Xcom Global’s model, where you can only rent the mobile hotspot, and have to bother with the chore of returning it when you’re done.
The mobile hotspot that Globalgig offers is a device made by ZTE. The hotspot is very lightweight and compact. Our biggest gripe with the device however is that it’s powered via Mini-USB connection – not Micro-USB. This is a bummer because that means you have to travel with yet another, non standard cable. The good news however is that the device can will operate just fine while being charged from a USB port – this is something that many mobile hotspots can’t do. Also, Globalgig includes both a U.S. and U.K. charger for convenience.
We tested the Globalgig hotspot in London where the device was running off of 3′s 3G network. In general the hotspot’s data was reliable. At its peak, we saw speeds of about 3mbps for downloads. Unfortunately there were a few instances when the internet slowed to a crawl, usually when we were around congested areas like Soho in central London. However, this experience was consistent with the service we observed on our iPhone which was also running on the 3 network.
Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the Globalgig mobile hotspot operates on Sprint’s network. In midtown Manhattan we saw average speeds of 2.5mbps down and .7mbps up. For the moment, Globalgig’s hotspot only works in 3 countries for now – the U.S., U.K, and Australia, but more are on their way. Also, it’s important to note that the U.K. is only first starting to roll out their 4G network, and only in limited areas. However, we would like to eventually see support for 4G with Globalgig.
Globalgig also promises that soon you’ll be able to login to your account online so that you can easily monitor your data usage, and make sure that you avoid overage charges.
For what feels like ages, we have been longing for an affordable way to get data while traveling internationally. And it seems like Globalgig might finally have accomplished just that. If Globalgig can expand their country list, and keep pricing affordable, we can really see Globalgig being a must-have for frequent international travelers. Again, the key is for them to keep the pricing affordable, especially since Verizon and AT&T’s global data rates are no longer astronomical.
The Good: Finally truly affordable international data! You’re owning – not renting the mobile hotspot. Generally reliable service. No contracts.
The Bad: No 4G support. No SIM-only option. Device is powered by Mini-USB. Service is limited to just 3 countries – for now.