So for a family that has lived across Europe for well over 450+ days... who use the internet daily to update their website, road school their children and research new family experiences for the days ahead.... we really do need a stable, cost effective solution to the problem of internet access abroad.
With data roaming charges creating huge bills abroad, it needed to be a solution that provided the ability to get wifi signal or cellular data.... so how has the Kuma Hotspot Package fared against it's rivals?
Having started the European Roadtrip with an IBoost (Motorhome Wifi) we've found that this unit loses signal too regularly, does not have a robust build quality and can sometimes struggle to pick up certain signals... but it got us thinking!! What about trying to use a mifi box that links to the wifi extender... a singular solution. So was there one on the market?
We'd experimented with mifi boxes in Italy (using a 3G white mifi box with a local sim bought in Bracciano) but found that this was then locked to the country... so resorting back to our phones and our previous mifi box... we'd struggled home with limited access..
After a fair amount of research, we discovered KUMA, a company that uses marine technology but has applied it to the motorhoming world.
It seems compatible as we've used a variety of devices with it. Connecting our laptop, iPad & phone but with so many different devices in the van, it needed to work and be secure and fast. It also needed to have an easy, accessible menu to access WiFi connections on sites or use the 3G data network across Europe via the unlocked dongle... and in fairness, it's done this brilliantly since it found it's way into our van.. It comes boxed with all the bits you can see above and a pretty easy to read 'set up' guide too..
The Kuma WiFi Hotspot Kit also has a useful magnetic 3G antenna which has been easy to place in our van, and it appears to pull in a decent signal which has been comparable with most other kits that we've heard of or seen across our travels.
So how far does the extender really manage? Well, we can say that it has easily pulled in a signal across a bay (700m away) and has worked well in urban areas but perhaps thats due to it's directional aerial... with a little fiddling, you can often pull in campsite reception signal and park away from the crowds... a perfect solution if you like a little privacy or want to give other campsite owners a little peace when you have young kids!
The crucial aspect for us... is the fact that these systems repeat a signal... so we only have to purchase one internet code rather than one per device... it's certainly saved us enough to cover the cost of the full system (over the 450+ days we've been on the road)
So should you invest in one? In truth, it depends on your usage and amount of time on the road... for us, it's perfect and we're not the only ones who use it. (see here)
But check out the views on popular forums like Motorhome Adventures, Motorhome Madness etc and see what they think, there are plenty of motorhomers out there who have given their views on both this unit and similar ones..
MOBILE INTERNET ADVICE - For the majority of our journey, we've used the Three Network and a series of individually bought 'preloaded 1GB' sim cards that can then be added to with incremental top ups (to a max of 12GB abroad). We've also looked into the ID network (with Carphone Warehouse) which is currently offering great value deals for use in the UK + Abroad... but the deals change so much & so quickly, it's probably a case of checking out sites like 'MoneySavingExpert' to find out the best current deals