Have you ever had the internet die on you at a critical moment?
I have—more times than I’d like to count. One such story involves Germany…and a girl. A girl who was really, really keen to spend the day with me (and feel free to interpret that any way you want—it’ll still be correct).
But I had online work deadlines. The kind you don’t skip. And instead of spending our time in a far more pleasant fashion, we burned it trying to find a cafe with decent internet access so I could upload a document.
It took the whole day. And trust me, there were better things we could have been doing.
Losing access to the internet can be a pretty big problem sometimes. Work. Family. Close friends. Sorting out travel plans when something goes wrong.
You’ve been in a similar situation, I bet—and if you plan to use the internet while you travel, you’re in for a world of frustration.
I teamed up with TravelWifi, the mobile WiFi solution for travelers, to show you how to avoid getting caught offline when you need it most.
12 Countries Where Getting Online Is a Total Nightmare
It’s not guaranteed you’ll find it nightmarish in these places. Your mileage will vary wherever you go—but generally speaking, these are the countries with the slowest and most chronically unreliable WiFI-accessed internet, based on the average broadband connection speeds for each country, according to SpeedTest.net.
1. Venezuela: 3.31 Mbps
Ah, lovely Venezuela. The Caribbean beaches. The Angel Falls. The warm, friendly people—and the absolute worst internet you’ll find anywhere.
Not only does it suffer the slowest broadband speeds in the world, they’re also some of the flakiest—and the reason behind both is infrastructure. Venezuela is in the middle of an economic, political and social crisis, and every part of the country is suffering, including the tech industry. Right now is a bad, bad time to visit as a tourist (although tragically, your tourist dollars could do a lot of good there).
If you go, expect the unexpected—and be prepared to scream at your laptop a lot.
2. Libya: 3.81 Mbps
If the phrase “Qaddafi regime” doesn’t immediately put you off, and you’re unperturbed by a lively mixture of 90% desert and near-constant violent insurgency, Libya has a lot to offer the modern adventurer, like the ruins of legendary Cyrene and the archaeological site of Leptis Magna.
It’s also the home of a lot of truly horrific internet access. According to some accounts, Libya’s internet is unique in that it’s gotten worse over the last half-decade, not better.
However, if you’re in Libya, you should regard problems getting online as the least of your worries—the Department of State has a travel warning in place for the whole country right now.
3. Algeria: 4.10 Mbps
Another handsome North African country with a security issue, Algeria currently carries a high risk for foreign travelers of kidnapping, banditry, and terrorism, especially in the border regions.
Also, the internet is shambolic. Since the government has recently taken to restricting or shutting down the internet to tackle terrorism or, bizarrely, crack down on students cheating in their exams, it’s an unreliable service for its 8 million internet-using citizens. If you go, you’ll probably be in the same boat too—but remember it’s a vast country, so depending on where you go, internet coverage can range from terrible to really terrible.
4. Lebanon: 4.51 Mbps
A fascinating country, where the Middle East meets West and ancient meets thoroughly modern, Lebanon´s troubled history (some of which is still underway) means it’s yet another country that the US Department of State wouldn´t want you visiting right now.
Regarding connectivity, Lebanon is in a curious situation—it’s at the receiving end of brand-new underwater fiber optic cables, theoretically giving it some of the fastest speeds in the world. However, on land, most of the country’s fiber-optic network has yet to be installed or turned on—meaning the quality of your internet access is not guaranteed.
5. Bolivia: 4.81 Mbps
The first country in this list to get a completely green light from the State Department, Bolivia is also arguably the most stunning—a vast landscape of soaring mountains, wide plains and remote villages it’ll take you days to get to. It’s a wonderful place to disconnect and take a digital detox—which is a good job, really.
Bolivia’s public telco has just announced plans of a new fiber network stretching over the country. Meanwhile, the country’s first satellite is allowing 4G LTE services as fast as 100 Mbps in a few select places—but for the vast majority of everyone else, the average is slow enough to hurt (especially if it’s a shared connection, eg. in a hotel).
6. Egypt: 5.15 Mbps
You may have seen Egypt in the news in recent years. Is it currently safe to travel there? This is what I have to say about that.
But what I can tell you is that the internet has come a long way from the 2011 complete network shutdowns—most Egyptians now have access to ADSL, and while it’s not fast (most mobile networks are actually faster), it’s workable.
A bigger problem is recent crackdowns on specific websites and publications. Censorship and internet freedom are ongoing issues, but that’s happening all over the world.
7. Suriname: 5.23 Mbps
You’ll be guaranteed a warm welcome to this South American, former Dutch colony—in every sense. Online access? Not quite so much.
Less than half of the population of Suriname are on the internet, so once you get outside the cities and into all the signal-destroying rainforest of the interior, your internet-time is probably going to take a tumble. Console yourself with some of the tastiest fruit juices in all the Americas.
8. Uzbekistan: 5.30 Mbps
Famous as part of the epic Silk Road route, this Central Asian country and former Soviet republic is stunning. Just don’t plan on telling anyone about it until you get back home. Broadband is slow, but much more disruptive is the current total block on Voice over Internet Protocol Services like Skype, WhatsApp & Viber.
9. Mozambique: 5.51 Mbps
This Southern African, Portuguese-speaking country is still developing (and is currently one of the poorest countries in the world) but it has so many beautiful sights to offer that tourism is growing quickly.
Countrywide, speeds aren’t so good, but if you’re in Maputo, you’ll find way faster data rates and a lot of cafes and wireless spots to choose from. Not too bad, on the whole.
10. Nicaragua: 5.75 Mbps
Nica is a hot destination for travelers right now—it’s highly affordable, it’s filled with jaw-dropping scenery, and the internet is…okay, back to the scenery. And it’s cheap!
Frequent power outages continue to be a problem, but Nica is an increasingly attractive prospect for remote workers—although if you need practical speeds of more than 2 Mbps, you’ll definitely need a mobile solution, not a wired one.
11. Honduras: 5.86 Mbps
Honduras is currently shaking off its reputation as a violent corner of Central America—and has much to offer.
Thanks to the government’s Internet para el Pueblo initiative, there’s free WiFi available at most central parks and plazas. The big cities have faster speeds than the national average—elsewhere, frustratingly lower.
12. Pakistan: 5.95 Mbps
Both Pakistan and neighboring India have been having severe internet blackouts or slowdowns this year. In India’s case, it’s due to government shutdowns—29 of them in 2017 so far. India´s (almost) saving grace is that it has a fast internet service, an average of 17 Mbps, which Pakistan has yet to catch up with.
Pakistan’s internet speed woes can be blamed on one thing: a recent undersea cable system collapse. While repairs continue, expect the internet to crawl.
Using Mobile WiFi to Get Reliable Internet Anywhere In The World
In many situations, including transit through the 12 countries listed above, you’d be smart to rely on your mobile connection instead of the local broadband.
There are two ways to do it—but one comes with a ridiculous price-tag.
- Data Roaming. If this phrase doesn’t give you a stab of pure fear, you haven’t traveled enough. In an ideal world we’d all be rich and data roaming would be a wonderful thing: instant, speedy internet wherever we are in the world. The technology is terrific. The prices can bankrupt you.
- Mobile WiFi. Imagine all the benefits of data roaming at a single, 100%-predictable price plan that will never turn round and sting you with extra charges. That’s the dream for many travelers—and at last, practical, affordable mobile wifi has finally become a reality.
TravelWifi Gives You Fast, Unlimited Internet Almost Everywhere
TravelWifi’s mobile WiFi is a game changer.
Your WiFi device isn’t much larger than the phone you’ll use it with—and it’s a lot less complicated. There’s one button on the front, and when you press it, you’ll boot up a WiFi hotspot that will give you unlimited data every day you’re on their plan (with reduced speeds after 1gb).
It works almost anywhere in the world—including in six of the twelve countries listed above (specifically, Venezuela, Bolivia, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Nicaragua, and Honduras).
In many countries, you’ll even be able to use super-fast 4G speeds of up to 10Mbps for your mobile WiFi—faster than many standard broadband networks.
Just check out this TravelWiFi review.
It’s also more economical with your data. If you use Tep+, their brand new call & messaging app, it uses up to nine times less data than other chat apps with no loss in quality (I’m looking at you Skype). This means less bandwidth and better quality connectivity at the same time. This way, wen you’re in areas with poor mobile coverage, you’ll still be able to make a call without the signal breaking up (and it’ll save your battery life too!).
All this, for a single price per day, with no extra charges, no surprises and no life-ruining bills a month later. Win, win, win…win?
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