You may know that I am one of many consumers who own an iPhone; the 3G version to be exact. I love the iPhone however, I hate that AT&T holds the exclusive network rights in the USA. Yes, I know there are softwares that can unlock the phone but I’m not interested in unlocking the phone by unauthorized means. So when getting ready to leave for England, I was researching options to stay connected with my apps while abroad and not incur roaming charges when I discovered Fonmigo.
Fonmigo is a company that allows US travelers to stay connected while traveling in the UK with your smartphones and laptop at a relatively low data network rate by renting out devices. One of the products they offered is the mobile wifi, which as the name suggests provides you with wifi access wherever you are in the UK; well, almost – more on that later. As I mentioned earlier, you rent the device and select the data plan you will use while abroad. I selected the 1GB data plan, which was plenty for the level of usage I anticipated on my travels – more on that later.
The mobile wifi is a small device, and lightweight. The device arrived in a box, packaged, charged, with instructions, and included a plug-in-the-wall charger. The plug is for UK sockets only. Upon returning the device, you re-use the packaging and box. The network name and pass code is sent to you via email.
Customer service contact is available as a toll-free number and via email with concerns and questions you may have with their products or devices once received. Customer service was very helpful and thorough in their verbal instruction on how to use the device when I contacted them. And if you are having trouble with the device while you are in the UK, there is a toll-free number that you may contact them at as well for immediate help.
I was not able to find any independent reviews of the device so when I decided to use this product, I knew there may be some risk involved and at the same time, I would be providing some valuable information to travelers who are seeking data network options while traveling specifically in the UK.
After traveling for two weeks in England, I must admit that I was relatively pleased with the device however it is not perfect. I got connectivity right away and when it was on there was little to no wait time between pages when the device is working. I’m not tech savvy so I won’t be able to describe the technical operations of the device but I will advise you of my experience and observation of the mobile wifi.
Upon activating the device, the power gauge will show how much battery life remains. Then the signal indicator will flash red until it picks up a signal and turn green. Once these indicators are green, the mobile connectivity must be activated – the button must be held down until it flashes green and then turns blue. Next, the wifi access must be activated; it turns blue when it is on. Your mobile device will pick up the network and ask you for the pass code. Enter it and voilà!
Having the mobile wifi allowed me to use my iPhone as our GPS navigation system sans voice commands while we were driving as well as on foot. It gave us tracking and directions. Renting a sat nav with the car rental was expensive in my opinion. It was especially handy when checking in with apps such as foursquare, Twitter, foodspotting, and blogging the travel contest with hints. I was generally pleased with Fonmigo’s mobile wifi product however there where moments of frustrations.
The mobile wifi did not work in remote settings such as in the countryside of Devon however, I should advise you that my cell phone did not work too. And even when we drove away from the countryside of Devon, connecting for wifi access was also spotty. Connection was also spotty in more populated locations too. I would at times find the mobile wifi was not working for my iPhone and would notice the “M” or “W” was deactivated. (Re)Activating the “M” was at many times frustrating as it would take several tries or even reboots of the mobile wifi for it to finally turn blue.
Battery life was also limited to roughly 4 to 6 hours of constant use. It also heats up if stored in a bag, which also drains the battery life. As I mentioned, it does come with a plug-in-the-wall charger. It would have been nice if it also included a car charger as well.
Despite some of the annoyances, I would use the product again and would recommend the mobile wifi from Fonmigo to others unless there was another similar option available that provided a more consistent connection. Another plus, return shipping is free. They email you the return shipping label and all you have to do is return it in the box you received it in. Simple!
For more information about products from Fonmigo especially the mobile wifi while travel a road to the UK, click here.
This post and review within this particular post was written about mobile wifi offered through Fonmigo.
Fonmigo is now Tep Wireless. For more information, please visit their website.