How can a bunch of Singaporean young adults go to Tokyo without internet access? Never in today’s context. The idea is preposterous. After getting my first smartphone two years ago, mobile data usage has became part of my life. The only occasion I was cut off from internet was during a 3 week community project to India. Well, having access to internet anywhere was certainly a privilege back then.
This time, we were lucky to get an overseas mobile WiFi sponsorship from Y5buddy Singapore, a pocket WiFi rental service company. Y5buddy offered us two pocket WiFi devices for the duration of our trip; Bizad Abroad 2014 to Tokyo was from 12 May to 19 May.
One of the devices look like that, smaller than the size of a Samsung S3:
It acts just like a secured WiFi hotspot, so all we have to do was to key in the password provided and tap “connect” and TADA!
Oh, please do not underestimate the use of mobile WiFi overseas. While many of us still can survive without internet (probably for a limited amount of time), the usage is not limited to Facebook browsing or replying to your Whatsapp chats. Allow me to remind you of the capabilities of your smartphone.
Lost your way? Go to Google Maps. You do not even need to turn on your GPS or download a GPS app as the WiFi location service is pretty accurate! Just identify landmarks around you, compare it with the map and you are good to go! Although I would say turning on your GPS gives you a better sense of direction as the arrow will move while you walk. You may already know that Google Maps allows offline caching – pre-downloading the maps so you can access them without data network. However, some countries are not available for offline caching, and Japan is one of those in the list. So isn’t this service very useful in Japan?
Took a beautiful picture? Post it immediately on Instagram! I think this doesn’t require much of a reminder but it is still super cool! Throughout the last semester, Instagram browsing was filled with envy as I saw my friends on exchange posing with the Eiffel Tower or the Venetian waters. Okay maybe Instagram was not so much of a kick. Let me introduce Snapchat then. These friends on exchange would also make me jealous by sending Snapchats with some random nice scenery in paradise or something. Now it was my turn! No Sentosa but Shibuya. No Bak Chor Mee but Sushi Sashimi. No nice scenery? It’s okay we can still see Mount Fuji!
Most importantly, you can Google search for anything, anytime and anywhere. It was certainly quite useful for web browsing during the long bus journeys when Facebook and Instagram ran out of updates. Another entertainment available was YouTube. From short videos to dramas to movies, they all streamed smoothly thanks to the unlimited and fast connection.
Oh one more thing. You can actually use the device to locate your friends whom you lost contact with. So the summarized story was this:
There were about 8 of us walking around Harajuku on the Friday afternoon and one of the WiFi devices was with one of us (TK). Eventually we were split into three groups and the TK wasn’t around me. Somehow, I lost my companions as they had “unintentionally” abandoned me for they thought I was gone. I was left alone to search for the rest. Knowing that TK should be walking along the crowded Takeshita street, I turned on my phone WiFi and began searching for the signal. Just as I thought I had also lost TK, the signal suddenly showed up on the screen; my phone connected to the device. I looked around and saw a few familiar faces. Well, I shall cut the story as that’s not the main point. The main point is that you can improvise the usage of the WiFi devices for such situations. I am not very sure about the effective ranges of the devices, but they can definitely be detected in open crowded areas.
There are no pros without cons. Just like any other portable network devices, underground connection is definitely weak and may not even work. Also, each WiFi device can only serve up to 10 other devices. That is to say the 24 of us cannot be connected at the same time, but it is not much of a problem as we don’t always use it. Having only two devices meant only those who follow the holders can use the WiFi. Another problem was that the speed was reduced when more devices were connected. Otherwise, all was good!
For more information, visit y5buddy.sg
*The rates are damn cheap. Don’t need to get overseas data, just get one of these devices.