Last Updated on November 23, 2016 by

Because of the nature of my work (and partly because of my internet addiction), I need internet access wherever I go. It’s easy to get constant WiFi at home with a mobile data plan, but what happens when you’re traveling? And as you know, I’m a full-time traveler who’s always on the road. Using my data plan abroad is just too expensive and having to buy a local SIM card everywhere I go is just troublesome, so I’ve been really happy to discover Tep.

Tep (travel everywhere powered) is a wireless mobile service that allows travelers to remain completely mobile and connected to 3G internet, only paying local rates. The pocket-sized device is small and compact and works in the same way as any other Wifi connection, except it’s safe and secure. It currently works in 35 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania (Full list here).

Granted, such mobile wireless devices (also known as MiFi) have been around for a few years now and I’ve tried a few over the years, but none have been reliable in terms of connection and most of them can only be used in the country where you bought the device. And sure, most hotels and cafes have WiFi these days, but it’s never as convenient as having a pocket WiFi that works everywhere you go.

Working on the beach

How It Works:

  1. Go to Tep’s website and rent a device for the destination(s) you’re visiting
  2. The device gets delivered to your home or hotel
  3. It requires no installation, cables or software; just switch it on and you can connect it to your device
  4. Ship it back when your rental period is over

What It’s Useful for:

You don’t have to be a business traveler or travel writer like me to find mobile internet useful. There are so many ways where mobile internet comes in handy when traveling—it can help you navigate a new place, translate languages and find tips online. Here are some ways I use my Tep:

  • Using Google Maps to find my way around
  • Finding recommendations or tips for good local restaurants and activities
  • Connecting with local experts on social media
  • Translating foreign words using Google Translate
  • Keeping in touch with friends on Whatsapp and Facetime

photo (11)

What I Liked about Tep

I’m not a techie person at all, so I really appreciate how user-friendly Tep is. It’s really as simple as turning it on, connecting my device to the network and entering the password (which is printed on my Tep). Once I’ve done that one time, my device remembers the password, so the next time I switch it on, it connects to the network almost instantly.

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A Tep device also allows connections of up to five devices (laptop, cellphone and tablet) with a unique password, so that means I can use all my devices simultaneously or share my WiFi connection with friends. It’s also small, compact and comes in a nifty little bag, which makes it very easy to carry around.

As for the connection speed, it completely depends on the cellular coverage in the area. The device can only work as fast as the cell networks do. When there’s no cell service, there is no 3G on my Tep. When connected to a 3G network, download speeds will be around 7.2 Mbps, and the upload speed around 5.76 Mbps. I’ve been rather happy with the speed so far, having used my Tep in various parts of Europe.

For those who are traveling to more than one country, Tep has devices that cover an entire region. My European Tep can be used all over Europe and it’s worked perfectly across Spain, Germany and UK as I’ve tested.  However, take note that this device doesn’t work in every single country in Europe; Tep has specified on their website that the European pocket WiFi does not work in Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway or Switzerland. Hmm….

As for technical problems, I haven’t had any issue with my Tep at all and haven’t had the need to talk to their support team. I’ve heard friends who have had problems but they were usually resolved quickly by phone or email with the customer service staff.

Tep website

What I Disliked About Tep

Renting a Tep device comes at a cost of €5 (US$6.70) per day for a daily allowance of 150mb. You can also pay an additional €2.95 per day for 100mb more, or an extra €4.95 for unlimited usage*. TEP claims to be cheaper than 95% of most carriers. When you think about hotel WiFi charges, it’s really not that bad if you’re traveling for less than two weeks. I think it’s a decent deal for those who need reliable internet access to work on the road. However, if you’re traveling for a long period and using internet just for personal purpose, then it’s quite a hefty price to pay.

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*Note that their unlimited plan comes with a data policy imposed by the local network. If you exceed the limit, you will be asked to pay for more data or your service will be suspended. So all in all, I wouldn’t recommend getting an unlimited plan.

Tep devices are not meant to be used outside their intended destination, and doing so may result in surcharges. I tried using my European pocket WiFi in Australia, just to test it out, but it didn’t work at all. Because of the nature of my work, I tend to hop from one country to another random one on a different continent. I wish Tep had a global device that works everywhere in the world — but alas, it’s just my wishful thinking!

Another downside for me was the battery life of the device. A fully charged battery lasts around 4-5 hours; but when it’s switched on the entire time, it only lasts around three hours. That’s quite a pain especially since I need to be charging it constantly. My device came with an extra battery but I haven’t bothered carrying it with me (perhaps I should!).

My Tep device and its pack

Would I Recommend It?

If you’re a business traveler or digital nomad (with a mobile office), then definitely yes! Tep will make your working life more efficient and productive. For internet addicts who are going on weekend breaks or vacations, this would be a useful tool and it wouldn’t cost too much for a short rental. But if you’re traveling for a few months or a year to obscure places and you’ll only need internet to stay in touch with friends, then this isn’t really essential for you. It depends on what type of traveler you are.

All in all, it looks like Mobile WiFi is the way forward. If you’re a gadget geek and internet addict, perhaps it’s time to catch on with this trend.

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Disclaimer: My device was kindly provided complimentary by Tep, but they did not request for a review. I get a certain percentage if you order your Tep rental through my site, and that helps me to keep this website going. As always, all opinions expressed above are my own.