Hands-on: Globalgig mobile data hotspot review
Whenever Pocket-lint visits a major event in another country, we make sure we always have our internet connectivity covered so we can bring you the latest tech news as it happens. Often there is wi-fi in our hotels, and some form of connection in a press room somewhere, but the rest of the playfield can be barren or fragmented.
Data roaming and the charges we have to put up with are a constant burden. Take the recent CES trade show in Las Vegas, which Pocket-lint covered in full for the entire week. If we were to rely on tethering our mobile devices, for example, we would have had to pay £6 per 1MB of data. An average hands-on has around 3MB of pictures to be uploaded, not including the text or videos. That would equate to £18 of charges for one hands-on piece.
During CES 2013, we have so far posted 240 articles, and while not all of those were uploaded from the US or hands-on previews, let's presume that 50 per cent were (a low estimate). That would come in at around £2,160 in data roaming charges. A hefty sum, we think you'll agree.
Globalgig endeavours to change that scenario. The company has released a mobile data hotspot device and service that, for a one-off payment for the Mi-Fi modem and reasonable monthly fees, can be used in the UK, US and Australia without paying any further charges.
The device, made by ZTE, costs £79 and three price plans are available. For 1GB of data usage a month, you will have to pay £15. Opt to pay £25 per month and you get up to 3GB of data, and £35 per month will get you 5GB. That's it! No other data roaming costs will apply if you are within your data limit.
If you stray above the maximum data allowance, each subsequent megabyte will cost you 4p. Four shiny new pennies. Not £6.
Up to five separate devices can connect to the Globalgig hotspot at any one time, and they can be any computer, smartphone, tablet or other piece of kit that requires wi-fi internet.
The reason the rates are so attractive is that Globalgig has deals in place with Three in the UK, Sprint in the US and Optus in Australia. Unfortunately, it currently doesn't work in other regions - including mainland Europe - as partners are still to be signed. There are plans to add more countries as the service expands.
In practice, Pocket-lint has found the device to work just as effectively as any other Mi-Fi hotspot or tethered smartphone. We took one to CES in Las Vegas and it always connected to the 3G network no matter where in the city we went.
If there was a problem, it is that it's capable of downgrading its connection to 2G, but we never encountered that. We did occasionally have problems with upload speeds for pictures, especially when in press conferences where our Globalgig was competing with literally hundreds of other connected devices, but no more so than an iPhone 5 would. Posting text, however, was speedy and reliable.
Another mark of recommendation was that, whichever event we visited, there were several other Globalgigs popping up on our network devices list, proving that the service is already popular with tech journalists.
We're certainly impressed, not least because of the money it has saved already. It will be interesting to see if Globalgig will eventually offer a 4G version too.