I’m really online now! Not just “sorta…”

One travel discovery we’ve been making is that wi-fi doesn’t necessarily mean a level of service we can do much with (very, very slow; only one device at a time; a very limited amount of data; no service at all after all for whatever reason (“Oh, sorry, it went down last week and the internet company can’t fix it until next week”); no security whatsoever; etc). I mean, we had no wifi on the TGV train yesterday, all the way from Marseilles to Turin. Can you imagine that? Six hours of beautiful blogging time, gone. So I wrote postcards the whole time, instead, lol!

But now, oh joy, we have a nifty little device an Italian cellphone company has put out to market in honour of this year’s Milano Food Exposition. (Should we adjust our itinerary so we can go? We’ve been thinking about it…hmmm…) They want tourists to upload tons of pictures of the expo, and share comments and experiences about it on social media, so they’ve made a way for it to be easy and cheap for visitors to get online.

I think it’s brilliant!

Actually, being a bit of a data hog, I did two things.

I have a new, Italian SIM card in my phone now (Orange, which I mentioned earlier, is a French company that operates in Spain and France and Ireland but not Italy…of course), with a company called 3. It’s the one that Telus has partnered with here in Italy, so I’m happy to go with the one Telus is friendly with.

That was gigantic step one. Haven’t had cell service since leaving Spain, and it’s been a lot harder than I thought it would be.

In addition, we have a nifty new device called a WebPocket. It’s a personal wifi hotspot-maker that allows us to connect up to 5 devices at once, and gives us 20 GB for 30 days of data! For a laptop, that’s not that much, so I’ll have to be sparing still, but for Jeff’s iPad, our Kindles, and both our iPhones, it’s amazing.

WebPocket Mobile WiFi

WebPocket Mobile WiFi

This little device actually is pocket-sized, and the idea is that one family member will just carry this in their bag so everyone in the family can connect their phones to it while visiting in Italy without needing a separate SIM card for each device. (I just know how much I use, and I didn’t want to have to carry the portable modem with me all the time, so I decided to do both.)

The other great thing about it is that it is unlocked, so when we move on to Ireland, at least in theory, we’ll be able to put an Irish SIM card in it and carry on. (Guess we’ll see if it works as advertised.)

Tourists are only allowed to purchase one specific model, but Italians have even better versions available to them, which makes me wonder if/when such devices will come to North America? It would be such a great tool for our trailer, or for Carla and Tom at their cabin…

Bottom line of today’s trip to the cellphone store: We are no longer beholden to the wi-fi mercies of the places in which we stay. I can’t say enough about what a relief that is!