Readers share their secrets for thriving in the host city
As for staying in touch in London, I left my iPhone at home because I worried about data charges abroad. Instead, I bought an inexpensive Samsung phone and relied on it and a Huawei modem for my poor, beaten-up nevertheless sturdy netbook.
But Clark votes in favor of swapping SIM cards and getting a provider: "I think it’s worth the effort because if you get a SIM with data you have that awesome resource at your fingertips at all times Google maps with Transit gives you a detailed route planner that lists all the stops for your journey, including the stop letters, which are not necessarily sequential on a given route.
"For mobile service I purchased a 15-pound [about $23] pay-as-you-go micro SIM on the Three UK network. It gave me unlimited data for a month, 300 minutes and 3,000 texts. Such a value compared to American options! I even used the service in mobile hotspot mode on my smartphone, which provided mobile broadband for my tablet, laptop and my wife's iPad and laptop, all together.
Carphone Warehouse shop in the Victoria train station
"A Carphone Warehouse shop in the Victoria train station was very helpful in getting this and is a vendor for multiple networks, which helps if the traveler knows nothing about 3G/4G network frequencies, APN settings, etc.
"I have a new HTC One S from T-Mobile US, which in the past would be a bad thing. But,because T-Mobile US is starting to roll out high-speed data services on the more ubiquitous 1900/2100 frequencies, their latest phones as a matter of fact work abroad at fast data speeds. A SIM-enabled iPhone would have probably worked just as so then, and 3 UK in effect has a support department for iPhone users. I tested the network speed and got over 10,000Kb/s down and 2,000 up. Not bad!"
In eschewing the iPhone and having only the cheapie Samsung phone and an international calling card with a few pounds on it, I relied on Skype, which is when the Huawei modem came in handy. Clark does me one better even though with this info:
Bad option if you're already set up on it
"Skype is not a bad option if you're already set up on it, nevertheless my approach was a little different. I already use a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) provider for my home phone service, a small yet very sophisticated service called VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).ms. They allow softphone access and as many IP Phones or softphones as you want on your account to be connected at any time. I have an IP softphone client on my smartphone, my laptop and my Thinkpad tablet. My provider to tell the truth has a London-based server, which means I was able to place calls from my mobile, tablet or laptop back to the US for about a penny a minute."
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