Tuesday, October 08, 2013

International Mobile Wi-Fi Router Internet Services

Sponsored Review

About two weeks before my recent Bangkok trip, I received an email from Telecom Square Singapore, asking if I was interested to review their mobile Wi-Fi router internet services. I thought it couldn't have been more timely because I was considering various options to have data roaming while I was at Bangkok, and even though it was not something I had tried before, it sounded pretty interesting. The hotel that I booked at Bangkok would have free Wi-Fi services, but it was only available within the hotel premise. Having some form of Wi-Fi connection while on-the-go would be very useful. And it proved to be so - I could instagram, check facebook updates and communicate with my friends on whatsapp wherever I went.

Telecom Square Singapore's parent company is in Japan and they only just started operations in Singapore on 1 September 2013. To give you a good overview of what this Wi-Fi router internet service is all about, I thought I'll do it in a Q&A style, to make it easier to understand. If you do make overseas trips, this service is definitely something you would be interested in.

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Basically, you bring a portable Wi-Fi router with you on your overseas trip, and the router allows you to tap into the local Wi-Fi network in the country you are in. The Wi-Fi routers are equipped with international SIM cards (with mobile broadband data plan).

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The rental cost per router is S$15 flat rate per day (includes GST), no matter which country you are travelling to.

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The Telecom Square International Mobile Wi-Fi Service covers these countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Australia, India, Japan, China, Hong Kong, USA and UK.

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Not at all! There are booths at all three Terminals at Changi Airport, to make it convenient for you to pick up and return the Wi-Fi routers. You can even opt for the routers to be delivered to you at a designated address at a small fee.

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At the collection, you will be provided with a carrying case, international adaptors, micro-USB to USB cable charger, portable Wi-Fi router and a user quick guide.  The battery life of the portable Wi-Fi router can typically last for about 3-4 hours continuous usage.  You can also rent an additional spare battery for S$3 per day if you expect to be using the router for a whole day continuously.

If you are concerned about losing any of the equipment, you can purchase insurance at S$3 per day which covers the theft, loss or accidental damage of the Telecom Square mobile Wi-Fi router unit.  With the insurance, you only pay 30% of the unit price in the event of theft, loss or accidental damage.

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It's really simple. There is a button on the right side of the router - Just press and hold for a few seconds to start-up the router. Once the router picks up the signal from the local Wi-Fi provider, you can then connect your mobile phone to the router via Wi-Fi. The hotspot name and password are indicated on the router itself, so just look for the name of the hotspot as found on your mobile and key in the password accordingly. You only need to key in the password once, and thereafter, whenever your mobile phone picks up the Wi-Fi signal, it will connect automatically.

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The best thing about the router is that up to 5 devices can connect to the router at any one time. That means all of my travel companions on the trip with me could connect to one router at the same time! Without the router, we could each have to get a unlimited data roaming plan from our telco, which would cost between S$15 to S$30 per day, depending on the destination. We would also have to constantly make sure that the network we have chosen is the designated one by our telco, because if we accidentally connect to the wrong network, we would run the risk of paying exorbitant data roaming charges with no cap on it. The Telecom Square International Mobile Wi-Fi Service allowed all 5 of us to connect at the same time, which translated to a lot of cost savings for us! That's S$15 shared among 5 people per day!

Some friends had recommended that I purchase a local SIM card when I arrive at Bangkok, but besides the hassle of having to look for a shop to buy the local SIM, I also have to install the card into my phone, configure it etc. This method also only allows one phone to use the data roaming service at any one time.

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I would say that the only bad point about this is that each battery can last only maximum 4 hours, which may not be enough during travelling because we usually spend an entire day out. This makes it necessary for the traveller to rent an extra battery, just to play safe.

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On the whole, having the Wi-Fi router with me on this Bangkok trip helped me a lot. I didn't have to pay for an unlimited data-roaming plan and I could instagram, facebook and tweet on-the-go. Even though I was told that the Wi-Fi network might slow down with more devices logged on, the speed was still pretty reasonable when all 5 of us were tapping in at the same time. I was given two Wi-Fi routers to bring along for the trip, but one of it was faulty (it could not detect the local network when I switched it on). The user guide advised that I call up the Help Centre for technical assistance, but I didn't do so. In the end, I relied on only one router, and that was enough for my data roaming needs.


Checking our social feeds at a cafe by tapping in to the Wi-Fi router all at the same time. Pretty awesome.

As each battery could only last 4 hours, I didn't keep the router switched on all the time. I only switched it on at intervals when I wanted to Instagram or check my Whatsapp messages etc. Because of that, one battery was able to last me the entire day. I've also realised that the router became very hot after I've switched it on for a longer period of time, but that didn't really bother me as I kept the router in my bag.

Because our mobile phones can only detect the Wi-Fi signals within a certain proximity from the router, all my travel companions had to stick close to me when they needed to access the internet, as I was carrying the router in my bag. Apart from that, the router was pretty much able to serve our needs during the entire trip, and we were happy with it.

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To place your order, click on this link and fill up the details accordingly. Do note that you have to place your order online 3 days (72 hours) prior to your departure date of your travel.  Contact Telecom Square Singapore directly at 66928321 (9am-6pm on Weekdays) if you need the Mobile Wi-Fi service urgently (less than 3 days before departure).  VISA and Mastercard credit card payment are accepted at Telecom Square Singapore rental website.

P/S: I received complimentary rental of two routers (but one was faulty and not used) for the purpose of this review, and no other financial compensation was received.