Being a digital nomad means having a strong, reliable and fast internet connection is like oxygen. I simply can’t live without it. However, getting speedy and consistent data worldwide isn’t terribly straight forward, and usually ends up in meltdowns or security breaches. I don’t know how many Wi-Fi freakouts I have had to date, but I can tell you they’re not fun.
Ever since we were essentially trapped South America with no power or internet, I vowed I would never again go abroad without a plan.
Trying to find free WiFi connections is annoying. I’m all for saving a buck, but there are less important things I can save money on. Data is not one of them. There are way too many insecure networks out there, not to mention how desperate I look when I’m trying to find a connection.
2020 TEP Wireless Review - Travel Wi-Fi Hotspot
This blog was originally written in 2018, but since then, Tep has changed a LOT with their pricing, options, and subscriptions. The service is essentially the same, only the device looks different and the pricing structure is different.
Here's the most current and update information on using Tep:
If you don’t already know, TEP Wireless is a little portable hotspot that gives you Wi-Fi/Data while you are travelling. Think of it like it’s own little cell phone, but it’s only feature is to allow you to hotspot off of it’s connection. It allows up to 5 people to connect to it at one time, gives 4G speeds, and offers unlimited data consumption. (As long as you aren’t being a hog… more on that later.)
Connecting to TEP lets you have internet abroad without getting a new SIM card or without using your current cell phone’s plan.
So...Did TEP Wireless Work For Us?
90% of the time, TEP worked flawlessly, but like anything tech related, it had it’s moments.
I can clearly remember 2 of them.
The first time TEP didn’t really want to work was the first trip we took it on. Last summer, Trevor and I took a month long road trip through 18 different states in the USA. Somewhere around South Dakota it decided it wasn’t going to play our road trip game. The unit just wouldn’t recognize the network. After emailing tech support, they reset the signal and we were able to get it back online. For the rest of the month, it worked like a charm! It was great to have Wi-Fi sitting shotgun in the car for those 10 hour driving days. I was surprised how it could keep up with the speeds were were going and throughout all the different cities we passed through.
The second time was a little less convenient. It was February of this year and we had just docked in New York from a Caribbean cruise. The weather was FREEZING and we were waiting outside to try and get an Uber. For some reason, TEP would not connect, which was the worst case scenario. We had no possible public WiFi, no pre-booked transportation, and 5000 other people trying to get a ride. Not a great way to end a cruise. Almost an hour later, we were able to get a faint signal and summoned an Uber, who luckily found us before the connection shut off again.
Now that the bad is out of the way, I do have to point out that TEP did work wonderfully dozens of other times. I've used it in Gothenburg, Bali, Doha, London, Edinburgh, Belgium and lots of other stops along the way.
This Wi-Fi hotspot saved the day more times than I can count!
All securely. With a decent speed. And without losing my mind. That equals pure bliss folks. Pure entrepreneurial bliss.
It works in 100+ countries worldwide. I’ve listed them all at the bottom of this blog for anyone who loves specifics!
How much does TEP Wireless Cost?
They have different packages for rentals vs buying, and it will also depend on where you are travelling.
RENTING a TEP:
Europe or North America:
- $5.95/day = 1GB per day of 3G speeds
- $8.95/day = 3GB per day of 4G speeds
- $12.95/day = 5GB of 4G speeds
South America, Asia, Africa or Global:
- $12.95/day = 1GB of 4G speeds
BUYING a TEP:
You can buy your own unit for $129 and then have more control over how much data buy. With a purchased unit you can choose between a ‘pay as you go' system or a subscription.
Pay As You Go:
- $7.95 = 1GB per day
- $9.95 = 2GB per day
If you decide you want to pay for a monthly subscription data package, they will actually send you the TEP device FOR FREE!
Here are the packages for monthly data subscriptions:
- $99 = 30GB per month
- $139 = 60GB per month
So when is Tep cheaper/better than just using your cell phone plan abroad?
When I first saw the prices, I thought to myself: “Hmm.. I think my cell phone plan is around the same price, maybe I will just use that!”
Most cell phone providers will offer you a $5, $7 or $10 a day charge to use your existing cellphone plan in another country. Key term being ‘use your existing cellphone plan’. I only had 5BG of data for the month, where TEP would have given me unlimited data for the same price. PLUS, TEP allows up to 5 people to connect to the unit, where my cell phone plan does not.
I ended up going WAY over my cell phone data plan the time I picked it over using TEP. And I mean WAY over. After a $450 cell phone bill, I realized I was way better off using TEP instead of using my existing cell plan.
We’ve actually been suspending our cell phone plans when travelling for 30 days or more at a time. Since TEP has given us a good connection, and now has the ability to make and receive calls, we don’t need our cell planes will abroad.
Being Canadian, this means we are saving $190 a month for our 2 phones. (Yes, the rest of the world dies laughing at our overpriced providers.)
Should you RENT or BUY a TEP Wireless Wi-Fi Hotspot?
TEP Wireless let’s you either buy or rent the unit, but I think buying is the way to go if you travel a lot.
- You need to let them know at least 10 days before your trip so they can mail the unit to you. They also ask that you mail it back to them within 2 days of your trip ending. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do is coordinate mail before and after a trip.
- The rate of data per day is $1 higher on a rental. Not a big deal, but frequent travel can start to add up.
- You own it! Yay! It comes with a 12 month warranty as well.
- Owning it means you can use it whenever and wherever you want, without having to coordinate it with them before hand. We took a last minute trip out of country and simply switched it on, and BINGO… it worked.
- The data can then be purchased on demand or subscription based.
- No mailing back and forth required. Efficiency is KEY with being a full time traveler and I don’t have the time or patience to fiddle with mail.
- You are only charged for the days you actually turn it on and use it. This way, you could have the unit for 3 months before using it again and never be charged. When you rent TEP, it charges you each day of the rental whether you use it or not.
How Fast is TEP Wireless?
Since last year TEP has been offering 4G speeds on their device. Most places we travelled gave us 4G speeds, but of course there are some rural areas around the world that are still running on 3G.
It was fast enough for social media, emails, even playing music.
We clocked speeds of up to 27 MBPS
Does TEP Really Give UNLIMITED Data?
Yes and no.
They market themselves as giving customers ‘unlimited data’, but there is a caveat.
If you use more than 1GB in a 24 hour period OR start using data super quickly, they will slow you down. This is to stop people from hogging data and streaming Netflix, gaming, and other data intensive activities.
They will slow you down to around 256kbs, which will transport you back to the times of dial up. Don’t worry, simple emails and and google searches will still go through, but you won’t be on Instagram for the next 24 hours!
Throughout the year I was slowed down a few times, but it was always because I was doing something non-work related, like streaming Youtube playlists. My throttle was always lifted the next day and life went on as normal.
Having a TEP Wireless doesn’t just give you portable Wi-Fi. They have added some extra features which make their service more attractive.
Call and Text
What was missing for me was the ability to make calls and SMS text numbers back home, but TEP recently fixed that.
Inside the app, they have super low calling rates that are up to 620% cheaper than Skype.
You can use your existing cell phone number, or if you’re like us and cancel your plan while traveling, you can get a new number from them.
It uses less data than WhatsApp, Viber, FB Messenger and Skype, which is helpful if you’re making a lot of calls.
A local concierge on your cellphone, who will give you tips and info on the area your visiting.
They’ve hired local hospitality pros in over 160 cities that you can chat with 9am to 8pm daily. You can ask questions about off the beaten path recommendations, good restaurants or inexpensive attractions. Basically anything you would ask a hotel concierge, but way more 21st century.
Their newest feature keeps a tab on solo travellers and alerts emergency contacts if they don’t check in at scheduled times. It’s a great piece of mind for globe trotters who want that extra layer of personal security.
While it’s not available quite yet, TEP will be bringing in flight Wi-Fi capabilities to their devices. Their aim is to make purchasing in-flight wifi more affordable by offering it beforehand at a discounted rate. Looking forward to this feature!
What About International SIM Cards?
A question I get asked a lot is: “Why don’t you just buy a SIM card in the country you are visiting?”
Because, for me, it’s a pain in the butt.
I know many travellers do this, but it just adds unnecessary trips on the to-do list, and it’s not very efficient.
Sure, if I was staying in the country for 6 months, a SIM would be a great thing to get. But passing through as a tourist it’s a hassle.
After a 15 hour flight the last thing I want to do is find a shop to sell me a SIM card, which then I have to figure out how to activate, usually while dealing with a serious language barrier. All to just move on to another destination in a week and do it all over again. No thanks!
I’ll keep using my hotspot that just requires me to press the ‘power on’ button.
TEP Wireless Review - The Pro’s and Con’s
Is TEP Wireless Worth It?
YES. It’s a game changer. It’s not perfect, but it’s not far off. In my opinion, nothing else on the market can beat it for travel in 2020.
TEP is now a device that comes with me everywhere and has a permanent spot in my carry-on.
TEP Wireless Coupon Code
Countries That TEP Wireless Works (and DOESN'T Work!) In:
Bahrain, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macao, Malaysia, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
Mongolia, Turkmenistan, Afganistan, Pakistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Armenia, Georgia, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Timor-Leste, North Korea, Lebanon, Palestine.
Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Vatican.
Moldova, Ukraine, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia.
Canada, Mexico, and United States.
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saint Maarten, and The Caribbean Islands. Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands.
Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominican Republic.
Australia, Christmas Island, Fiji, Guam, New Zealand, and Saipan.
Vanatu, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Samoa, Soloman Islands
Egypt, Gibraltar, Kenya, Mayotte, Morocco, Reunion, and South Africa.
Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Chad, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somaliland, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Eq Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Dem. Rep. Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi. Somalia, Mozambique, Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Madagascar, Comoros, Zimbabwe.