In August I spent a couple of weeks in the UK. In the interest of keeping things light and simple, I decided not to take my laptop but only my iPad. Besides keeping in touch with business and personal contacts via my several different email addresses, I also wanted to be able to access bus and train timetables, use Google Maps to navigate, find local restaurants, etc. but had no need for the laptop.
I could have chosen to use the iPad only on WiFi by getting a plan on one of the public WiFi networks like BT’s OpenZone or by only using the iPad when I was in a hotel or a pub. But partly in the interest of unfettered Google Maps access, I opted to get a SIM card so I’d have 3G access. All the major broadband suppliers, of course, have shops everywhere, so it’s easy to find something from Vodafone, BT, O2, 3 etc. You need to be a bit careful – SIM cards that will work in an iPhone won’t work (or won’t work for long) in an iPad.
I did some research. A useful article in the Guardian gave some advice. I decided on a SIM from 3. For about $30 I got a one-month, 3GB pay-as-you-go data plan, certainly sufficient for a two-week visit. Another time, I would look at O2 or Vodafone to see if it might be less expensive to get a smaller 3G plan together with access to WiFi.
Setting up the iPad is simple – pop out the North American SIM card and pop in your new one. But . . . how to deal with email? What SMTP server should I use for outgoing mail? I have several different email addresses, each for different aspects of my business and personal life. Do I need to change them all? Well, as you might guess I use LoaPost on my iPad, so the transition from my Rogers plan to my 3 plan was seamless – I made no changes to my email settings and just kept using ‘localhost’ via LoaPost as my outgoing server. And when I was in the pub in the UK and using their WiFi network, again I did not need to make any changes to email settings. When I got home on Labour Day, I popped out my 3 SIM card and popped in my Rogers SIM card and was back in business, again with no changes.
By the way, we also got a SIM card for my wife’s unlocked iPhone – mostly for phone calls but with a small 500 MB data plan. She was also able to use LoaPost on the iPhone to keep up with her email.