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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > iPhone, iPad & iPod > A Trouble-Free, Low-Cost iPhone European Experience

A Trouble-Free, Low-Cost iPhone European Experience
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Mojo
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Nov 12, 2009, 05:20 PM
 
I recently traveled to Europe for a couple weeks R&R. I was concerned about the cost of making overseas phone calls, high data transfer fees, etc. And then at the very last minute I decided against bringing my MBP, which meant that I was totally dependent on the iPhone for my digital communication needs...

To make a long story short, it went pretty-much without a hitch at a total cost of less than $3.

When I boarded the non-stop flight from Portland to Amsterdam I disabled International Data Roaming, switched the iPhone to "Airplane" mode and enabled Wi-Fi. For the next 2 1/2 weeks I relied on Skype and private/public Wi-Fi. (Both of my apartment rentals had wireless Wi-Fi.) I put $10 on my Skype account and spent less than $3 calling friends in Europe and the U.S. and checking our voice mail once a day. I didn't incur any data roaming charges.

The only problem was with POP email using foreign ISPs. But at least one of my accounts did work most of the time (weird...) and there was always Web email options.

I would only add that I consider a public VPN account to be a must-have when traveling with a portable Mac and/or iPhone. I have used Witopia's fine service for years and their iPhone app worked flawlessly.
     
Simon
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Nov 13, 2009, 02:55 AM
 
Interesting. Could you elaborate on the public VPN thing? Did you somehow require VPN for this to work? Or are you just using it to ensure privacy on public wifi?
     
Mojo  (op)
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Nov 13, 2009, 01:11 PM
 
I didn't need VPN to make this work; I use VPN to secure my connections when I use unencrypted public and private wireless and wired networks. I also use it to prevent my ISP from tracking my online activities.

When I first became interested in VPN around four years ago I demoed all the available services and eventually settled on Witopia's personalVPN (www.witopia.net). Its public VPN service includes an iPhone option. The cost is very reasonable and the customer service has been excellent. Installing the necessary software is about as easy as setting up a network connection gets; even a rank newbie should have no problems. As the company has grown it has added servers in the U.S. and Europe and the connection speed has steadily improved. At times its data transfer speeds have been faster than my Charter cable connection.
     
The Placid Casual
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Nov 24, 2009, 04:46 AM
 
I live in France and constantly face crossing borders to Belgium, Italy, Holland etc with work. I concur, using the Skype app over free Wifi on the iPhone really is a godsend. There was a piece on the news here last week about a guy who lived on the Franco/Belgian border, bought a new phone with 'unlimited' internet 3G usage included, and in a month got a €48000 bill.

Turns out it kept jumping to the Belgian 3G network a few miles away... pretty much everything was charged at international roaming prices :O
     
Simon
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Nov 24, 2009, 04:55 AM
 
Of course a simple pref setting would have prevented that ('Enable 3G roaming'). In fact, isn't 3G roaming set to off default?
     
The Placid Casual
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Nov 24, 2009, 09:36 AM
 
It thankfully is indeed Simon. The phone in question was a Nokia of some sort, I think it may have been an e71.
     
turtle777
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Nov 24, 2009, 09:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by The Placid Casual View Post
The phone in question was a Nokia of some sort, I think it may have been an e71.


Oh how I love Nokia.

-t
     
turtle777
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Nov 24, 2009, 09:50 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Interesting. Could you elaborate on the public VPN thing? Did you somehow require VPN for this to work? Or are you just using it to ensure privacy on public wifi?
You can also get a VPN for use with public access points for free, if you trust the company.

Get Behind the Shield! Hotspot Shield by AnchorFree

But it's none different than the link Mojo posted, you need to trust the middle man.

-t
     
Mojo  (op)
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Nov 24, 2009, 04:52 PM
 
But it's none different than the link Mojo posted, you need to trust the middle man.
True enough... I have communicated with the Witopia developers about security issues. They maintain minimal logs that do not identify client connection history and the logs that they do compile are securely purged from their system every 48 hours. They are firmly committed to enhancing the Internet security and privacy of their clients.

A couple of comparisons to Witopia: Witopia does not have a data transfer limit and it offers an iPhone app as part of its basic service. Hotspot Shield does not have an iPhone app. When testing VPN services it is also a good idea to ascertain the download and upload transfer speeds, because they can vary greatly.

Hotspot Shield CNET review:

"This freeware program promises to encrypt all your Internet connections, but since most public wi-fi access points in the U.S. are open, it's a bit hard to gauge Hotspot Shield's effectiveness. However, the connection itself is a bit wonky.

Once the program is installed, it creates an HTML link on your desktop. Double-clicking on it will open the application in your Web browser, and you'll be taken to a page detailing your Connection Status, IP Address, Server Address, Bytes sent and received, and the duration of the connection. Hotspot Shield is ad supported, so you'll get a big banner ad that lives at the top of every Web page, too. Closing the tab with the app's control panel doesn't disconnect the shield, though: for that, or to reload the control panel, you have to go through the green shield icon that gets loaded into your system tray. Also, there's a 5 GB transfer limit.

Overall, we can't give Hotspot Shield a strong recommendation, but as a last resort it might be worth trying out.

User reviews: http://download.cnet.com/hotspot-shield/#rateit

There are quite a few public VPN services; VPN Reviews & Rating 2009 - Top10 VPN REVIEWS is one place to read reviews of many services available in the U.S. and abroad.
( Last edited by Mojo; Nov 24, 2009 at 05:00 PM. )
     
turtle777
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Nov 24, 2009, 07:10 PM
 
I agree, with HotSpot Shield, you get what you pay for. Since it's free, it's hard to complain too much.

It's good enough for occasional use when traveling, or beating the government filters when in China

-t
     
   
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