13 Sep Teppy Portable Wifi Device by TEP Wireless: Review for Digital Nomads
What is TEP Wireless?
TEP wireless is a global company with a simple mission: to keep you connected to the internet while traveling.
They do this by providing wifi hotspot devices (for rent or purchase) called the Teppy that can be used on 6 different continents as well as throughout the Caribbean. They even claim it works while on cruises – more on that and other info about coverage later…
With the use of their hotspot device, you can purchase day passes to access unlimited data wherever there is coverage.
How the Teppy Pocket Wifi Device works (with video review)
The actual Teppy pocket wifi device is a small, portable device with one button and one mini-USB charging port. It’s rubber exterior is meant to add a layer of protection in case you accidentally drop it and it’s important to note that the device is not waterproof or water resistant. If you’re really worried about that, you can easily stick it in a ziplock bag or small waterproof sack if needed.
The main button does what you’d expect it to do. It turns the device on (after pressing and holding for a couple of seconds). It cycles through 3 different screens of information (home screen, data usage, and customer support info). It turns off the device, again, after pressing and holding down the button for a couple of seconds.
To connect your phone, tablet, or computer to the Teppy wifi, you simply use the network ID and password information provided on its home screen when turned on. The ID and password will remain the same each time you use it, so you don’t have to keep entering the password into your devices over and over again.
Teppy will support up to 5 devices at a time, though it’s important to note that, similar to other wifi products, the more devices connected and using data, the slower the performance and data transfer rates will be.
On a full charge, we used the device heavily for about 3 hours and still had about a 50% charge left. To charge the device, simply plug the USB cord into the Teppy and into the handy travel adapter charger that is included.
Teppy Wifi Performance
We tested the Teppy while in Florence, Italy and were impressed by the download and upload speeds. In the most optimal conditions (outside and in an urban city), we were able to see 31 mbps down and 18 mbps. Comparatively, our Airbnb’s internet was 5 mbps down and .05 mbps up (and also a glitchy connection that kicked us off every now and then).
Because Teppy works using local data networks, you’re going to find that coverage and speeds will be better in more urban areas. Also, remember when they said they have cruise ship coverage? They are referring to the times you are in port and near a major city. You cannot get coverage out at sea or on a plane.
It should also be noted then that being inside a building with thick stone walls can also affect coverage. We tested our Teppy inside our Airbnb on the second level of a stone building and the speed was significantly slower than putting the device outside on the window ledge or again, using it outside in a clear area of the city.
But this test was just in Florence, Italy. What other countries does Teppy work in?
Room for improvement: TEP Coverage and Speed Information
Though I think this is a solid device and service, TEP could improve on communicating the actual countries of coverage and providing more detailed information about where you can get coverage within a given country.
For example, if you go their website and click on “Coverage” in the main nav, it takes you to a page that shows you all the continents/world areas that they have coverage. Clicking on the specific area you are interested in takes you to another page where only the header picture has changed. All the other information is the same. If you want to find the actual countries they have coverage you can a) search for it or b) go to the FAQ page.
Here’s the TEP wireless coverage info from their FAQ page.
Another important aspect of the data coverage that we think TEP could be more up front about is that the internet speed does throttle after a certain amount of use within a day. For the average user who is just checking e-mail and looking up things on Trip Advisor, this probably isn’t an issue. But for a pair of digital nomads like us who might need to upload images and work with larger files of content, it is possible to hit the throttle limit.
This is mentioned on the fine print of the purchase page: “If you have the 4G upgrade, you get 1GB of high-speed data per day. After you’ve used 1GB, your connection speed gets slowed to 256kbs until the end of the day. If you do not have the 4G upgrade, you get 500MB of high-speed data per day. After you’ve used 500MB, your connection speed gets slowed to 256kbs until the end of the day.”
Renting vs. Buying the Teppy device
The cost of purchasing a Teppy device is $99, and then you pay on top of that for each day that you use data. The rental price is based on the total number of days that you’ll keep the device. The difference in price for the daily data is about $1 per day ($8.95 /day if you are renting vs. $8 /day if you own the device). In other words, if you plan to use the Teppy at least 99 days in your life, you should buy it. If not, you should rent the device.
Is the Teppy Pocket Wifi Device a good nomad wifi solution?
So the main thing to ask yourself before buying or renting a Teppy is how often do you need to be connected to the internet and when and where would you use it?
This is a great device for those that need peace of mind that they can get connected to the internet while traveling. It’s ideal for urban and semi-rural areas around the world without the hassle of dealing with roaming charges and super expensive international data service plans for phones. Once you own the device, you can pay only as needed and that’s really important.
$8/day can seem expensive for some, but you have to remember that this isn’t really a solution for daily wifi all month long. In many cases, you will have access to regular wifi from a hotel, apartment, or cafe – the Teppy would simply fill in the gaps when wifi is not available or when it’s not as strong as you need it to be.
In comparison, we use T-mobile and they give 128 kbps unlimited data in countries they have partnerships with. That speed is ok for usage on your phone to check email, maybe look at a webpage, etc… However, it’s not great to get any real work done. You can pay $20 for a 1GB, 1 week pass, but there’s a lot of restrictions there.
The other common alternative is to purchase local SIM cards with a data plan in each country you visit. This option will often be more affordable, but it does require more effort to set up in each new location. If you’re moving from country to country frequently and want to avoid the hassle of navigating foreign SIM card situations, the global Teppy device would help.
Consider your internet needs as you travel. Do your research and check TEP’s coverage (as mentioned before), contact them if needed, and compare their services to your own phone service’s rates and plans. You might find this device to be just what you needed.
- Better than expected performance in optimal conditions
- Easy to set up
- Pay as you go service
- Finding accurate coverage information is difficult
- Can get pricy quickly if you need to use the device often
- Data speed throttles after 500MB/1Gig usage within a day
Disclosure: We received a complimentary Teppy pocket wifi device for our trip. All views in this post are our own. Links to TEP Wireless contain an affiliate link, so we will get a commission if you use the service but there is no additional cost to you.
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