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Rent an XCom (or Two) and Work Overseas

What you get
Probably the single smartest way to stay connected as you travel.

The XCom is neither lovely to look at nor brilliantly engineered. This modem is basically an entry-level MiFi hotspot from Novatel Wireless (NVTL) with global capability. The not-new unit (or units -- you will need more than one if you travel to several countries) comes in a clunky bag loaded with batteries, international power plug adapters and less-than-clear instructions on how to install the device.

But XCom's genius lies elsewhere. What the XCom does is broker the relationship between the cellular networks in the destination country and the mobile hotspot you get in the mail before you travel. All it takes to stay connected is to arrive in the country, power up the unit and log on.

At least here in India, the XCom manages that feat almost without issue.

From my hotel to various less-than-ideal locations throughout Delhi, no matter where in the city I tried this tool over several weeks of intense mobile Web connectivity, the XCom got me to my Web-based work. It was invaluable.

What you don't get
A truly low-cost data roaming tool. XCom has strict conditions that are confusing, and the tricky nature of global roaming throws in a few curveballs.

The cost of the XCom can add up: You pay $15 per day in rental fees. Next, if you are traveling to more than one country -- say, France and India -- you must carry a second modem. If you add a third or fourth country, there are more modems to carry and a $30 per country surcharge to pay. A second battery, which is handy, runs $2.85 a day. Insurance runs $3.95 a day. Then there are shipping and late fees if you keep the unit too long. For work travel, there is value here, but still, $200-plus for 10 days of connectivity adds up.

Also, complex global networks can confuse the Xcom. India is not a single-cellular-standard country. It turns out there are 13 different networks here, many of which are not compatible with the XCom. The XCom, which got the job done in Delhi, simply did not work when I traveled to Agra, which is to the south.

Bottom line
XCom Global offers a heck of a mobile option. While not cheap, it is reasonable to use and, at least here in the telecom wilds of India, it worked.

If you absolutely must stay connected when you travel for business, this is my pick for the device to carry.

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This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.
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