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Connectivity and ISP

How to stay connected to internet when on the road.
Connectivity and ISP

Road warriors have long acknowledged the challenges of staying connected with the office when on missions abroad and they have been pioneers in finding ways to get on the internet by travelling with all sort of accessories (from plugs to jacks to transformers) to overcome the differences in equipement and standards.

Having somehow resolved in part the "plugging" of modem cable (we still carry memories of a fruitless search for the right phone plug which would accept the computer-jack in Mexico 10 years ago!!!) with a more widespread use of the same jack and the major upgrades carried out by telecom companies all around the world, the next hurdle to overcome is the internet access. In fact, despite impressive improvements the perfect solution to global connection is far from being achieved.
Unless you travel to major cities worldwide, having access with your computer to internet requires a lot of advance preparation and planning. Smaller cities or more remote areas, particularly in regions like Africa, India, Russia or China, still require specific solution and you are better off knowing and be prepared in advance, which solutions you can have access to.

Elements that represent constraints are not simply the costs but also your specific needs (for example accessing only emails is very different from needing a live collaboration online with exchange of large files).

When you get ready to move to another country you would normally cancel your subscriptions to phone, internet etc, well, you might consider keeping your ISP (internet service provider) agreement for a while longer if you can use it on the location you are moving to, at least until you find out what are the option locally and what are the requirement to have an ISP.
This is an option you should keep in mind ONLY if your ISP has a local presence in the location you are moving to, otherwise having to call internationally to get connected is going to be not only expensive but also inefficient, because  the connection to a far away server might not be a good one.

In the event you do not have a computer with you (or any other device to connect to the internet) or you do not have an internet connection via your ISP there are other options you may want to consider.

Global ISPs

Global ISPs are much like regular ISPs, only they have local access numbers that can be used around the world (called Points Of Presence or POPs). Global ISP are able to give international coverage either because their network is truly a worldwide one  (very few have a single network covering a lot of countries) or because they have set up agreements with various local operators to create a worldwide network. Network surcharges based on time used are usually applied in addition to the regular service fee.  These can vary from place to place and sometimes can be rather steep.  Better understand what you will be paying beforehand to avoid nasty surprises later. 
TIP: Before you jump into the network and stay online hours, be sure to verify the amount of extra charges, if any, you will be paying for utilizing the access numbers of the overseas location. Depending on the type of  agreement it could be cheap, reasonable or outrageously expensive. Some global ISPs offer the possibility of paying only when using it where others may require a monthly subscription. Calling cards may come in handy to get connected to the local access numbers at cheap rates (see the document "Phone, VoIP and Instant chats")

It is more and more common for global ISP to offer access not only for computer but also for PDA and other mobile devices.

CompuServe, UUNET, AT&T Business Internet Services, Earthlink are some examples of global ISPs.

Global Internet Roaming Services

Global roaming services differ from global ISPs in that, for the most part, these aren't ISPs so much as they are companies that have cooperative agreements/partnerships with numerous ISPs around the world.  The services and rate plans offered by each can vary greatly. Some require a regular subscription, with additional usage fees.  Some charge only when the service is actually used. Some may offer ISP-like features such as e-mail and web space, while others may not. Some companies offer service for Palm and Windows Pocket PC devices (PDAs).

Net-Roamer, PIPEX Dial, MaGlobe, iPass, GRIC.  (GRIC stands for Global Reach Internet Connection), WorldWISP  are some of the companies that offer global roaming.

Hotel-provided ISPs 

Many hotel chains provide their clients, or at least some of them, with internet connection in the room. Unfortunately in some cases instead of a  broadband there is a slow dial-up connection. These systems usually require a network card or built-in connection for your laptop. It is preferable in these cases to check your email from a web-based email server rather then downloading to your computer and then replying using the hotel ISP because you might discover that you are not allowed to send email out. This is because many ISPs, in an effort to block spam, do not allow those who aren't regular subscribers to use their outgoing mail servers.  As always, before using it verify the costs.

Free ISPs 

In portions of Europe (especially Italy and the UK), North America and elsewhere, certain areas are served by a variety of free Internet Service Providers.  Most are supported by advertising, and some post restrictions on usage time or you do not pay for the connection, but you may have to pay a per minute fee for the phone line usage (again the use of calling cards may help you keep the costs down).  However, the price is hard to beat, and they might be good for short-term use. 
http://www.lights.com/pickalink/freeisp/

WiFi Internet Access

WiFi is the broadband wireless standard that allows users to connect at high-speeds of up to 10 Mbps at various hot spots around the globe. A growing network of hotspots enable you to log on to the Internet in locations such as hotels, airport lobbies, train stations, coffee shops and other high traffic locations.
To use the service you simply need to get an account, have a WiFi enabled laptop or PDA and be in the proximity of a hot spot. You pay a flat fee for 24 hours of unlimited high speed access. There are no monthly fees so when combined with our dial-up service you have multiple options to connect almost anywhere. 

Satellite Internet Access

Satellite Internet Access service provides a simple to use, portable, high speed data link with the Internet. Users can access the Internet from 99 countries. The service provides fast connectivity which can support  instant remote access, virtual private network connectivity, high speed internet access, email,  file transfer, digital image transfer, e-commerce, store and forward video, remote IT support, instant messaging. The "always on" Internet service is charged for on a per Mb basis so you only need to pay for actual data sent and received.

Wireless cafe, cyber cafe' or internet cafe'

Those are more likely to get you  connected via their own computer system, but some offer wireless service.
To search for an internet cafe' try:
http://cybercaptive.com
http://www.world66.com/netcafeguide
http://www.cybercafeguide.com/search.cfm (searches cybercafe' in Belgium, Britain, Colombia, France Germany, Greece, India,  Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Serbia, South Africa, USA).