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Guide to using mobile broadband on holiday in France

Posted on 13 April 2015 by Dan Johnson

Heading off on holiday and want to stay online while you’re there? Mobile broadband can be used outside the UK, but some preparation and research is needed before you travel. We asked Broadband Genie editor MATT POWELL for his top tips.

Using mobile broadband in France

Q: What do you need to use mobile broadband in France?
A: In order to use mobile broadband outside the UK you’ll need a mobile broadband dongle that’s compatible with the local network, and permission to roam from your home network.

Most contract mobile broadband services will already be enabled for international use. If not it shouldn’t take much more than a call to customer services. But pay as you go mobile broadband may not work at all. And whichever type of deal you have it may be necessary to purchase an international roaming add-on.

If you’re buying a new package and relying on roaming it’s important to confirm that it is permitted – and whether there are extra steps you’ll need to take to enable it – before handing over your money.

Network compatibility will depend on the frequencies and standards supported by your dongle and the local network. Any device you buy today should support multiple frequency bands and so it will be usable in many countries around the world, but to confirm this you may need to do some investigation into the specifications. Speak to your provider if you’re uncertain.

Q: What is the cost of mobile broadband roaming
A: Using mobile broadband abroad can be expensive. In many countries you will not be able to use inclusive data or pay home rates, instead the networks will charge an additional fee, either as a per-MB rate or a fixed price bundle.

Within the EU there’s a price cap, which is presently 20p per MB.

For a quick check guide, Broadband Genie has created a Mobile Broadband Roaming Map which aims to help travellers figure out the cost of using the internet abroad. Clicking on the countries will display a list of prices for that location when roaming on the major network operators.

The prices display are not comprehensive as there’s a huge number of packages and fees, but it does give an idea of the costs and highlights which providers may be cheapest. Always check the pricing in each and every country you’re visiting before travelling, even if you’ve been there before.

5 tips for using mobile broadband on holiday

  1. Avoid video streaming and downloads: To ensure you don’t end up with a nasty bill or burn through your data allowance too quickly you should steer clear of anything that uses a lot of bandwidth, which includes the likes of video and audio streaming and file downloads. Try to limit your roaming to web browsing and email.
  2. Keep costs low with a bundle: A bundle of data for a set price is usually cheaper than the per-MB roaming charge, and it allows you to control spending. As mentioned above this may be mandatory to even use roaming.
  3. Look out for special deals on international roaming: It’s increasingly common for networks to cater to roaming by offering heavily discounted data bundles or even giving their customers free access to roaming in specific countries. For example, Three has it’s ‘At Home’ deal where you can use the internet in some locations for the same price as the UK, and EE gives 100MB of free data per month to use in the EU.
  4. Use a spending limit: Within the EU all providers put a cap on roaming bills of around £50, and some also apply this worldwide. This is a great way of preventing ‘bill shock’, so speak to your provider to find out what their policy is. The cap can also be removed (which we’d not recommend) or raised if you know you’ll need to use the internet frequently.
  5. Pick up a local network SIM: As an alternative to roaming you can use a local network SIM in your mobile broadband dongle to take advantage of their pricing. Just make sure that as well as supporting the right standards the dongle is not locked to a network.

Matt Powell is editor of broadband specialist Broadband Genie: www.broadbandgenie.co.uk/

Where to next?

For holidays in France, go to: www.siblu.com

To find out about owning your own holiday home in France, go to: www.sibluvillages.com


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