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Communications Connecting - internet cafes, laptops, Palm devices, cell phones - how to connect, use, which one, and Bike to Bike and passenger intercoms.
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Old 10 Oct 2010
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mobile web access in Africa

Just thought I'd drop a note on here about getting connected while travelling through Africa - it's something I put thought to before setting off but couldn't find info on, so hope this helps someone. This is aimed at those taking a laptop/netbook with them and using a USB dongle.

I've found that in eastern Africa, mobile internet access through a SIM card is very good usually - Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania have been almost as fast as my mobile connection in the UK and very cheap - equivalent to about 5 euros a week for either unlimited or very high download limits.

I started out by buying a local dongle/SIM package in whatever country I was in (usualy costs about 30 euros), but then discovered I could just go to one of the mobile phone shop guys and get them to unlock the dongle for any network (for about 8 euros), same as you do with a phone, and then you can use any SIM from any network in any country in your unlocked USB stick.
You just need to find out what the APN setting and access number is and modify the dial up profile in the options menu (you can find this out on-line or most network operators have a shop in almost every town)

Zain cover quite a few countries in Africa, and you get the impression your dongle will work in any of them, but you still need to get it unlocked and buy a new SIM card if you go to another country, so no saving.
I've found Zain to perform well, except in Uganda which was pitiful - MTN may be better, it was certainly pretty decent in Rwanda.

I've found download speeds have varied between 30Kb (Uganda!) upto 1.5Mb depending on where you are - upload speeds have always tended to be decent. not gone below tanzania or up the west coast yet so cant comment on that.
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