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Mobile Internet outside the UK

Want to get Internet access when you're travelling overseas? Help and advice on getting mobile Internet abroad


Internet on your mobile overseas?

If you're looking to use your mobile phone to surf while you're abroad, you'll be "roaming". Charges for data whilst roaming can be pricey, and aren't generally included in your free data plan.

To give you an idea of the cost of "roaming", here are the prices charged per megabyte for some of the UK network operators in 2010 .

  • o2 - Either £3 (EU) or £6 (non-EU) per megabyte , or get a "Data Abroad" data bolt-on (£20 a month for 10Meg)
  • Vodafone - Pay by the day. Up to £4.99 for 25Meg (selected countries, using Vodafone Live on a mobile), or £14.99 a day for 25 Meg (for rest of the world).
  • 3 - Either £3 or £6 per megabyte depending on country, although cheaper (£1.25 a meg) in European countries such Austria, France, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Spain and Sweden.

As an example, 1 Meg is equal to between 10 and 20 web pages, or around 125 emails (average).

Update July 2011 - Mobile Data Roaming prices drop. See European Roaming Charges Reduced

Tips: Here are some tips on how to surf from your mobile without incurring huge costs:

  • Check your roaming charge before you leave by looking at your UK Network Operator's web site
  • Get a local SIM Card - Get a pay-as-you-go SIM card when you arrive. Chances are, this will work out a lot cheaper than roaming to your UK network.
  • If your phone has wi-fi built-in, stay in a hotel that offers free or low-cost Wi-fi use your phone as a data modem.
  • If on an expensive connection - only download what you need. Go for "headers only" with email, and turn off images when surfing.
  • Take a look at MobileLeap - This is a service you can access from your mobile phone - type in a web address, and it will convert to a more mobile-friendly format, reducing image size, or even offering a text-only version. From your mobile, go to


Listen to the FrequencyCast UK online radio show
FrequencyCast Podcast IconPODCAST FEATURE: Internet abroad? We looked into ways to keep your costs down when surfing abroad in show 38
of FrequencyCast, our online radio show.
Listen to Show 38 | What is FrequencyCast? | Add us to iTunes


Internet on your laptop?

o2 USB modemIf you have a laptop or notebook and want to be able to connect to the Internet whilst travelling, there are a few options:

  • Use wi-fi or a fixed Ethernet connection wherever possible
  • Use your phone as a data modem - some Smartphones support this as standard (but check before you travel)
  • Get a USB dongle with wifi and 3G - See our USB Modems page

Tips: As explained about, charges while roaming can be quite pricey, so it'll cost you a pretty penny to watch live streaming TV from overseas over 3G. Here's some advice for using your laptop abroad:

  • Local SIM card: Investigate whether getting a local pay-as-you-go data SIM Card might be the cheapest option.
  • Turn off Windows Update: If you're being charged a huge amount for each meg you download, you don't want to be downloading loads of Windows patches in the background
  • Watch your virus checker: As above, downloading new virus definitions in the background may eat into your allowance. Update your Internet security software before you travel, or over a connection where you're not being charged £5 a megabyte
  • Images: Web pages tend to be loaded with images, java apps, banner ads and Flash animation. Consider turning off anything that might be thirsty - The Google Chrome browser from Google is pretty minimalistic and allows you to disable stuff that you don't want to pay to download
  • Try Onspeed: Onspeed is a clever little application that speeds up your Internet connection - It does this by compressing images and stripping out bloated content. Handy if you're on an expensive connection. More details here: OnSpeed Review

Got any top tips? Let us know!


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