One concern before leaving the comfortable environs for your overseas adventure is what it will really be like to live in a new country.
- Will my cellphone work wherever I go?
- Can I find WiFi when I need it?
- Is the internet fast and reliable so I can manage our new expat life?
As seasoned global travelers know, what constitutes “normal” can take unpredictable turns when adapting to a new reality. There is, fortunately, a myriad of technology forces at work in our favor.
Years ago, when cellphone service expanded around the world, there were bizarre moments when developing countries were deploying more advanced technology than we had. It became possible to roll a telecommunications trailer into a remote village and instantly connect to the global digital economy. So now it’s possible to take your unlocked cellphone to nearly every country, get a local SIM chip, and quickly have fast reliable service.
Keeping your number
There is also an option that allows for roaming the planet with the same number anywhere. Expansion of Google Fi makes it a fantastic choice for global coverage. It’s competitive with data plans at $10USD/GB and never costs more than $60/month for unlimited data (plus $20/month for the first phone and $10/month for each additional phone).
It operates in over 200 countries and territories making it a great choice for international travelers. This does require a Google Fi compatible phone using a Google One based design. They make it easy with no-interest financing. You can also add a cellular-enabled tablet for free and only pay for the data you use.
Another viable option is the T-Mobile ONE plan which includes international data roaming to over 210 countries and destinations.
It’s a particularly good plan for anyone going to/from Canada and Mexico with unlimited voice and data while traveling in both countries. I continue to hear complaints from my Canadian friends about how expensive cell service is there. Why not sign-up with T-Mobile for your normal everyday phone next time you visit south of the border?
At US$70/month (US$35/month each with four phones on the same plan) it’s a great deal for families on an international adventure. With T-Mobile ONE Plus (an extra US$15/month per phone) you get higher data speeds and also in-flight WiFi access on GoGo enabled aircraft.
Finding that hot spot
Any seasoned traveler has stories of the endless search for a decent WiFi hotspot. There are times too numerous to count when we had a Skype or WhatsApp call scheduled with family back home and couldn’t find a reliable connection (if one was available at all). OK, so at risk of this sounding like a running advertisement for Google Fi, they also include access to over 2 million WiFi hotspots all over the world.
Boingo has been at it for years with global WiFi plans. AT&T includes WiFi access in their international roaming plans which allows you to use your normal plan in other countries. It’s fine for a day but at $10/day it just gets way too expensive for extended travel.
Wired internet has advantages in places not limited by aging copper wires.
For instance, developed countries are scrambling to remove the burden of archaic wired systems at a time when it’s possible to have high-speed fiber-optic internet provided directly to a home, and in countries where you might least expect it.
We’re finding more and more apartments equipped with fiber-optic internet streaming TV in place of traditional cable or satellite TV.
So go off on your expat journey knowing that your connection to the world can be surprisingly better than what you had back home.
With fiber-optic internet, there are advantages in places without legacy services that can be an obstacle to having the fastest connection possible.
Let us know what you found when traveling and how you managed your connectivity while on the road.