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Category: Personal Finance

Internet Road Warrior Survival Tips

MARTINSVILLE, N.J., Nov. 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — While Americans have always loved traveling abroad, staying in touch has historically been difficult, expensive, or both. However, thanks to advances in wireless technology, keeping in contact has never been easier or more affordable. The ultimate cost will be a function of your needs and whether or not you are staying in touch for business purposes, which will often require greater data usage in the form of email, etc. Please see the Quick Reference Survival Guide below for an at-a-glance overview and read on for further details.

Quick Reference Survival Guide

  • Degree of Use
  • Location
  • Light/Medium User
  • Heavy User
  • Cruise Ship
  • Use the on-board plan due to its convenience.
  • Check with your domestic carrier for applicable rate plans as they can differ by cruise line.
  • Look into the rate plans for the various countries of port the cruise ship stops in.
  • Usually, local country networks tend to take over within 12 miles from shore.
  • Cross-referencing rates from disposable SIM card suppliers may also yield more attractive in-country rates, although devices will need to be unlocked in order to use the SIM card.

Developed International

  • The best option is going to be the international plan offered by your domestic carrier.
  • Ask for the rates associated with each country to avoid surprises.
  • Check the rates from domestic carriers vs. those of disposable SIM card suppliers.
  • SIM card suppliers offer unlimited data packages that will ultimately prove cheaper for heavy data users.
  • If your phone is not unlocked, renting a device may be the best solution.

Less Developed International, Extreme Camping, etc.

  • Do without internet and voice usage due to the high cost and inconvenience.
  • Best served with a satellite solution.
  • Your specific needs will help determine which model and package are best.
  • We recommend consulting with an expert, such as Steve Manley of Globalcom, at 214-504-2350.

While cell phones and tablets designed for use in the United States have become much more effective in foreign countries in recent years, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Cell phones in the United States work using either CDMA (Verizon, Sprint) or GSM (AT&T, T-Mobile) technology. Be sure to check with your mobile provider that your phone will work in the country you are going to. Your destination will also influence the price you pay for voice and data. Typically, the more developed a country, the more reasonable the rates will be, with Canada usually having the cheapest rate. Additionally, you are more likely to find Wi-Fi access in developed countries in places like hotels, airports, or cafes. In many cases, Wi-Fi will be free and is obviously the preferred connection for data needs.

Be sure to check with your provider for international packages relating to voice, data, and/or text for the country or region you will be visiting. These will often save you money but, in some cases, the rates will still be very high. In these instances, it is advisable to look into pricing on prepaid disposable SIM cards. Check with providers in the country you will be visiting or multi-country providers such as keepgo.com, but be sure to compare rates as they may not always be cheaper than the rates from your domestic provider. It is important to remember that in order to swap a new SIM card into your phone or tablet, it will most likely need to be “unlocked.” Typically, the phone will need to be out of contract to be unlocked, which is usually not a problem for a tablet since they are not subsidized by most wireless carriers. If it is not possible to unlock your phone, you can always rent a phone from one of many online sites or a local carrier when you arrive at your destination. Again, be sure to compare the rates against those from your domestic provider and be sure to figure in any connection costs or servicing fees.

For all of the aforementioned ways to keep in touch, it is important to remember that you will be limited by the infrastructure in your destination of choice. In particularly remote regions of the world, none of the above methods will allow you to stay in touch in the absence of a local network. In these situations, your best option is going to be a satellite phone and/or data solution. There are many satellite models available for voice or data needs, so consulting an expert in the area is recommended. We did just that with Steve Manley of Globalcom for an employee’s recent trip to Africa. Steve steered us toward the Explorer 500 BGAN terminal from Cobham/Thrane & Thrane. Its smaller size made it ideal for a trip that was heavy on travel and when paired with a small wireless router, allowed a host of devices to be connected to it.

Some tips to keep in mind: When taking a cruise, be sure to know the rates on board the ship in comparison to the rates charged by your domestic provider or one of the solutions mentioned above in any of the countries that the cruise ship docks at. Often times, the cruise ship will have the highest rates, so it is generally advisable to use the prevailing destination’s network using one of the said methods. It is also worth noting that the cruise ship usually utilizes a shared network for all on board, so data speeds are typically slow during peak hours. To properly manage your data usage, be sure to turn off roaming when not using your devices, make sure any apps that heavily use data are turned off, and keep from opening emails you don’t need to read because they could contain pictures or other media that suck up larger amounts of data. You should monitor your voice, data, and text usage throughout your trip – most phones and tablets have some way to track this. Finally, if texting is particularly expensive under the plan you are using internationally, look for apps that allow you to text via data instead of your text package, such as Text Free.

Using the methods discussed, a user who needs to go through 150+ emails per day (usually for business purposes) should plan on spending $100 per day in the more-developed countries and $150 per day in areas where satellite communication is needed or while on a cruise ship. The areas you are visiting will be highly influential in determining cost and in some cases a multi-device approach may be the best solution.

Globalcom Satellite Communications

Founded in 2003, Globalcom is an industry leader in the satellite communications arena. Globalcom offers a broad range of service, including satellite phone sales, satellite phone rental and satellite airtime service from Iridium, Globalstar, Thuraya and Inmarsat. Globalcom also provides internet data solutions with Inmarsat BGAN products and Hughes Net. For more information on Globalcom and the products and services offered,please visit www.globalcomsatphone.com or call 888-636-0707.

Condor Capital

Founded in 1988, Condor Capital is an employee-owned, SEC-registered investment advisor based in Martinsville, N.J. employing 15 professional and support staff. Since Condor is a fee-only investment management firm, its fees are based on portfolio size, not sales commissions or number of trades. For more information on Condor Capital, please visit www.condorcapital.com or call 732-356-7323.

Contact: Ken Schapiro, info@condorcapital.com


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