Published by Lyn on 25 June 2020
The Hippocketwifi mobile hotspot is designed to keep you connected no matter where you are cycling in France or Europe.
What is it?
The Hippocketwifi mobile hotspot is the creation of a French start-up (of the same name) based in Lyon. It's a pay-as-you-go mobile hotspot device that you can rent during your time in France. It works all across Europe.
How does it work?
It's a hand-sized mobile hotspot that provides wifi access for your mobile phone, tablet or laptop.
The device itself is smaller than a mobile phone, so it fits easily into pockets and panniers. It comes in a self-contained pouch that includes both USB and plug charging cables, as well as (very easy to understand) instructions in English and French.
You order and pay online and the device is sent out ahead of your trip so that it is waiting for you when you get here. It can be sent anywhere in France – e.g. to your first hotel ahead of your arrival, to a friend's house, or to one of dozens of pickups and post offices across France (inlcuding one at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport).
Standard delivery is free within France and Europe.
It can also be sent to your home outside Europe prior to your departure for a surcharge (between €10-20, depending on the destination).
At the end of your trip, you simply pop it into the pre-paid envelope that comes with the device and drop it into a French postbox.
How much does it cost?
There are several basic plans depending on how much data you need (prices as per June, 2020).
1) France-wide: a 1GB per day plan that starts at €6.90 per day for 3-5 days and reduces to €3.90 per day for 14-30 days.
2) France-wide: unlimited data for €8.90 a day for 3-5 days reducing to €5.90 a day for 14-30 days.
3) Europe-wide: a 1GB per day plan that starts at €7.90 per day for 3-5 days and reduces to €4.90 per day for 14-30 days.
4) France-wide: unlimited data for €9.90 a day for 3-5 days reducing to €6.90 a day for 14-30 days.
Plans can be extended or upgraded with a quick phone call.
For both France and Europe there are special rates for long-term/monthly prices for rental over 30 days.
You can use up to 10 devices at the same time, so it's ideal for families – or you could get one device to share among a cycle touring group.
How much data is 1GB?
This is what I had and it was fine. The company says the 1GB data would roughly cover "average daily usage", including 8 hours' web browsing, 4 hours of interactive map use, an hour of video streaming and 200 emails.
The daily allowance is averaged over the course of the hire. So if you hire for 7 days, you get 7GB of data to use over that period (there isn't actually a 24-hour limit on each day's data). So if you have a few days of cycling with lighter use, the excess data could be used on a rest day.
Is it any good?
I road-tested it on a cycling trip to Provence and I found that it was excellent. It was easy to set up and use – you simply switch it on, find the device on your laptop or tablet, and enter the password that's provided with the device.
The instructions provided were clear and required no technical knowledge to follow.
Wifi coverage was fast and reliable. It uses mostly 4G networks, as well as a smaller number of 3G French networks. The owners guarantee 100% access in large cities and towns. I found their team responsive and friendly ahead of my trip in terms of answering questions, etc.
I used it throughout the drive to Provence to check online maps, as well as for email, daily internet use and Skype calls via both a tablet and a laptop. I downloaded images and edited the website using the hotspot and also did several freelance editing shifts that required reliable connection via VPNs.
As with any hotspot, you do need to stay within relatively close proximity to the device – I comfortably wandered around hotel rooms, and used hotel balconies and terraces with no problems.
I had no trouble with the battery – it lasts between 6 and 8 hours (you can upgrade to a larger battery to give you 20-30 hours if necessary).
Would I use it again?
Yes, for sure. I found it reliable and easy to use.
It has obvious benefits if your mobile phone company at home has expensive roaming charges in Europe, or if you are looking to run multiple devices and don't want to use your phone as a hotspot.
It's also a good stop-gap option if you need to guarantee reliable wifi for a small chunk of your cycling holiday – say, if you need to log on for a work meeting, or guarantee access at a certain time or place. It works remotely and you do not need to be near a powerpoint as long as you have charged the battery.
A mentioned above, you can use up to 10 devices at once, so splitting the costs with a cycling partner or among a group of riders makes this an affordable and reliable wifi option.
Where to get it
The official website is hippocketwifi.com.
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