Wifi hotspot or mobile internet when abroad?
I need to travel abroad for work and will spend most of my time at workshops in a hotel. The hotel offers free internet – will I still need a data package for abroad?
Even when you are abroad, public wifi hotspots allow you to browse the internet or get in touch with friends and family back home. Whether on a smartphone or tablet, using wifi hotspots is a good opportunity to save money, also when abroad. Wifi that is openly accessible to anyone can, however, conceal hidden dangers that are often underestimated. This is why you should make sure that the wifi network is from a reputable provider before you connect up – ideally you should select an official hotspot with additional encryption.
Mobile internet for business or sensitive data
If you are planning on using the internet abroad via your smartphone or tablet mainly for business purposes and are working with sensitive data, you should only connect with your company network via a VPN client. Fundamentally, however, the best solution is to get a data package for abroad. Telecommunications companies provide packages with pre-defined inclusive data allowances and also other options featuring reduced rates. The great advantage here is that you can connect up to the internet whenever you like without first having to find a hotspot or ask for the password. If you leave your hotel, you can still get access to your emails or company data. You don't have to stay in one place to work and you can respond flexibly to urgent emails. Which all means that you work more efficiently and more securely online when abroad.
Wifi connections for private individuals
Encrypted hotel wifi connections are particularly suited to private users as this rarely involves an exchange of sensitive data. With various communications apps like WhatsApp or the Swiss equivalent iO and Threema, you can chat with friends and family, share photos or even sometimes call them, all for free ‑ as long as you are connected to the internet. So if your standard contract doesn't include a data allowance or you don't have an additional data package for abroad – or you don't want to make unnecessary use of it – take advantage of hotel wifi networks to get in touch with friends and family at home, simply and cheaply.
Whether or not you need a data package or optional extra for your trip abroad depends firstly on how you are planning to use your smartphone or tablet once you're there, and secondly whether or not you work with sensitive data.