News April 2012

Internet access when travelling overseas

We are so used to today’s smart devices, that often we take internet connectivity for granted. Now that we’ve untethered ourselves from large, immobile computers, we’re used to accessing websites, social media and emails no matter where we are. So how is “mobile computing” impacted if we travel? Can we expect the same connectivity overseas that we have at home? Access to the internet varies from country to country and may be expensive if you want to use your own mobile phone. Here’s what to keep in mind when accessing the internet when overseas:

Before you go – Set your “out of office” email message before you leave, to notify senders that there may be a delay in your reply. Change your phone’s voicemail greeting as well and leave the details of an alternative contact person. You may even be able to set your voicemail so callers cannot leave a message, this can be useful if you are expecting a long absence. Check with your phone provider in case you need to enable “international roaming” so your phone will work overseas and ask them if they have any arrangements with providers in other countries for preferential rates. Also remember that the governments of countries like Mainland China, Syria, Iran, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates block access to some internet sites, so do additional research prior to your travel.

When you arrive – Your phone may automatically connect to an available network upon your arrival in a new country. It may be worthwhile to manually choose the provider you prefer to use, as the automatically chosen one will likely not be the most cost effective. It is suggested that you check whether your phone automatically changed to local time, which can alter your calendar entries. You should also confirm the call and data costs of the network you are now using. If the data charges are high, you might want to turn off “mobile data” on your phone and instead rely on WiFi access when it’s available. This should help guard you from large unexpected bills when you return home. Remember that incoming calls and SMS/MMS messages will be charged to your account at international rates and therefore it may be cheaper to buy a local SIM card for calls and other messages. The local tourist information centre will be a helpful resource and will offer SIM cards in most countries.

Be wary of free internet – Watch out for free internet access offers and instead opt to use known, trusted organizations. Internet connections can be monitored to capture login names, passwords and credit card details, particularly if you use their computers instead of your own device. Be careful about websites you visit on shared connections, especially when accessing your personal information and always remember to sign out.

Talk to Computer Troubleshooters Croydon for more advice on internet access overseas, and how to get friendly, local support from our network of franchisees in 25 countries.

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