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It’s being reported that in Sochi every single phone and laptop is getting hacked. Even the U.S. State department has issued an official warning that there should be no expectation of privacy in Russia:

“Russian Federal law permits the monitoring, retention and analysis of all data that traverses Russian communication networks, including Internet browsing, email messages, telephone calls, and fax transmissions.”

So, while the government is officially on record as monitoring you, Russia is also known to be the home of some of the most prolific hackers. Early reports are that they are already having a field day with all of these unsuspecting and distracted tourists filling the airwaves with their personal data.

If you haven’t headed to Russia yet, but are planning to join in the Winter Olympic festivities – it’s not too late to rent a secure mobile hotspot from XCom Global. Our rental devices provide private and secure Wi-Fi connections, including support for WPA2 and VPN pass-through, for up to ten devices – all for a low fixed rate fee.

The techies all agree that WPA2 Wi-Fi security and VPN is the way to go to ensure your privacy. Why take a chance with public Wi-Fi? At your home or office, passwords and a firewalls protect your data on your computer. WPA2 and VPNs provide that same protection while you are using XCom Global’s Mobile Hotspot. The potential cost of falling victim to cyber criminals far exceeds the cost of an XCom Global rental. In addition, XCom Global provides better connection speeds, lower cost of access, more convenience and stronger security than other Internet connectivity options while you’re traveling abroad. Lucky for you, we’ve put a special Sochi Travel Package together to make it even more affordable.

XCom Global is excited to announce new website improvements that will make it easier for customers to find coverage maps for their specific travel destinations.  With XCom Global’s updated coverage page, customers can navigate between individual country pages for the 175+ countries XCom Global supports.  After selecting the specific country they wish to travel to, customers will have the option to view a coverage map for that country. Interactive coverage maps, updated quarterly, allow customers to navigate to see where exactly they can use their XCom Global mobile hotspot. Customers can zoom in to the exact city they are visiting to see what kind of Internet coverage is offered in that area.

With XCom Global’s new MF60 mobile hotspots, customers can also enjoy connection speeds up to 21.6 Mbps.  With the ability to provide a secure and reliable Wi-Fi Internet connection for up to 10 Wi-Fi enabled devices at once, the MF60 is compact, easy-to-use, and supports 4G (HSPA+) networks. If you are heading to a destination that can take advantage of the latest high-speed connectivity, the XCom Global customer care team will automatically assign an MF60 to fulfill your order.

XCom Global’s promise to customers has always been “Know before you go” – with XCom Global, you pay one flat fee up front, with no roaming fees or data overage charges.  In addition to providing business and leisure travelers with the peace of mind knowing they won’t be hit with roaming fees or data overage charges, customers can now travel knowing the exact network and coverage information for their destination, so they can truly know before they go.

The XXII Olympic Winter Games are fast approaching and many will be heading to Russia to witness the incredible athletes from around the world compete for Olympic Gold. Here in San Diego, we are very excited about San Diego native Shaun White, Olympic snowboarding medalist, who will be competing once again at #Sochi2014. Who are you rooting for?

If you are one of the lucky ones who will be heading to Russia to cheer on your favorites, XCom Global has put together a special Sochi Travel Package.  U.S. travelers heading to Russia in the months of January and February can order this package which includes a 4G mobile hotspot unit that provides high-speed data connectivity  for only $9.99 per day.  The XCom Global Mobile Wi-Fi hotspot units provide high-speed data connectivity without long-term contracts or roaming fees, allowing you to upload and share photos of the thrill of victory and stay in touch with loved ones.

Surprising finishes during a race are fun, but surprising charges on your wireless carrier bill are not. Travelers can securely enjoy 4G (HSPA+) download speeds of up to 21.6 Mbps  without worrying about returning home to bill shock. No technical expertise or unauthorized unlocking is required to receive a private and secure Wi-Fi connection, including support for WPA2 and VPN pass-through.  Customer support is available 24 hours a day with a local toll-free number available in Russia.

This is the first time Russia has ever hosted the Olympic Winter Games. To add to the excitement, there will be 12 new winter sports events: biathlon mixed relay, figure skating team event, luge team relay, men’s and women’s ski half-pipe, men’s and women’s ski slope style, men’s and women’s snowboard slope style, men’s and women’s snowboard parallel slalom, and women’s ski jumping.

Enjoy the games! We’ll be watching them from our living room, but if you’re heading to Russia, be sure to rent from us before you go!

XCom Global is excited to offer users new 4G LTE mobile hotspots in Japan with data download speeds of 75 Megabits per second, delivering the world’s fastest mobile data access to consumers and businesses.

The new 4G LTE mobile hotspot offers multi-network compatibility in Japan, supporting three network types – AXGP, FDD-LTE and W-CDMA.  Featuring a lightweight and compact design, the mobile hotspot supports up to 10 Wi-Fi enabled devices at once — providing travelers with a reliable connection that they can share with family, friends, and coworkers.

Using the hotspot is quite simple.  No setup is typically required and XCom Global provides the password in the instruction manual.  Simply turn it on and, once the Wi-Fi indicator lights up on the device, you are ready.  The product has a battery capacity with 3,000 mAh battery life of up to 9 hours with LTE connection, and can also be used when connected to a USB cable.

In the words Hallie Wilson, a New York based fashion blogger who recently took the new 4G LTE device for a spin in Japan:

“I traveled through Japan with my XCom Global 4G LTE hotspot for eight days in December 2013. The device was a digital lifesaver, to say the least. I used it to overcome the language barrier (via translation apps), look up directions, and post updates to all of my social media channels. Traveling abroad has never been easier with XCom Global; I highly recommend it if you have an upcoming trip abroad!”  – Hallie Wilson, Editor,

Initially, the service will be available for those traveling to Japan, however XCom Global plans to begin adding additional countries in the coming months.  Stay tuned for more information!

International roaming charges are a problem for travelers from every country as soon as they leave their wireless provider’s coverage area. We often receive requests from travelers around the world who are heading abroad. From our U.S. headquarters, we best serve travelers heading out or entering the United States. However, starting today XCom Global’s Internet access rental services are now available in Singapore thorough a strategic partnership with Yourwifi Pte. Ltd.

“Partnerships like these allow us to increase our outreach and bring our rental services and savings to more people across the globe,” said Joe Fennell, Chief Operating Officer (COO), XCom Global, Inc. “With offices in Japan and Taiwan, and now Singapore, we have a strong presence in Asia Pacific.”

Yourwifi is headquartered in Singapore under the leadership of Founder and CEO Noritaka Kobayashi. He recognized that travelers in Asia were underserved and looked to XCom Global to help him deliver the most affordable and efficient rental service.

“With an increasing demand and trend for travelers to stay connected on the Internet while overseas, it is becoming the norm for people to be able to use the Internet,whenever and wherever. Unfortunately, there is no perfect solution to such needs in Singapore yet,” said Mr. Kobayashi. “Using mobile telco, data roaming could cost you a ton and it surely comes with multiple hassles, and narrow coverage area. Local SIM cards can create even more trouble by requiring complicated APN settings and activation process. But with our service, we ensure customers will get the easiest and cheapest Internet access with the least worries and maximum gain.”

XCom Global is excited about our partnership with Yourwifi to serve international travelers in Singapore!

Jesse Mendoza, JIA president

Jesse Mendoza, JIA president, using XCom Global devices (courtesy of Instagram)

There are many people who will make it onto Santa’s “nice” list this year, and at the top will be the relief workers, many who are unpaid volunteers, who are spending the holiday season in the Philippines providing aid to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. XCom Global has been proudly supporting these relief efforts by providing Wi-Fi Hotspots for Disaster Relief to improve access and sharing of information.

ShelterBox is a non-profit organization that provides boxes of aid, including temporary shelter, immediately after natural disasters. They have committed to providing these boxes to nearly 6,500 families and have a response team of 24 highly-trained disaster relief experts on the ground who will stay into 2014 to get the job done. Mark Boeck, Senior Trainer at ShelterBox International, posted his feedback via LinkedIn: “Having just returned from deployment in the Philippines and experienced 1st hand the difficulties experienced by a severely damaged infrastructure – the Wi-Fi hotspots provided to the ShelterBox response teams by XCom Global made it possible for us to communicate with teams located on different islands affected by the Typhoon, as well as with our Head Quarters back in the UK.”

Jordan International Aid currently has a team of bay area doctors, nurses and operation members in Tacloban and Palo. This humanitarian team of medical personnel will treat cellulitis, diarrhea, pneumonia, bronchitis, conjunctivitis, hypertension, diabetes, lice, scabies, eczema and many other conditions due to exposure without shelter.  This update was posted recently on their Facebook page: “During our time in Tacloban, we expect to care for over 3,000 victims. (On other missions, we have cared for 2,000 to 10,000 victims). A huge thank you to Palo Alto Medical Foundation, for donating supplies & medicine. AmeriCares donated 700 lbs of medicine, Blessings International sold us 200 lbs of medicine cheaply, XCom Global sent 4 MiFi cellular modems, and WeCareSolar sent 4 solar suitcases for power.”

Immediately following the disaster, Red Cross volunteers in the Philippines and across affected communities rapidly mobilized to support disaster response operations. Now, one month later, 6,233 volunteers are working with the Philippine Red Cross to deliver crucial assistance to those in need. This includes distributing items such as food packages, hot meals, water, hygiene kits, and medical support. In addition, the Philippine Red Cross continues to work closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross to help people re-establish contact with family members who have been separated by Haiyan.

The Red Cross has appreciated XCom Global’s support. Gwendolen Eamer, Media Advisor, Canadian Red Cross said, “As you can imagine, being able to connect online is critical in the field.  In the past we have relied on satellites for Internet access, which can be expensive and temperamental. XCom Global’s mobile hotspot devices provided us with the ability to reliably access specific, up-to-date information that our teams required.”

During this season of giving, we are pleased to be able to support these organizations that continue to give so much to those in need.

It is estimated that Typoon Haiyan destroyed more than 550,000 homes across several regions in the Philippines. One of the first things many victims needed after the storm hit was temporary shelter. That’s where ShelterBox comes in. This non-profit organization responds instantly following natural disasters by delivering boxes of aid to those in need. Each ShelterBox supplies an extended family with a tent and essential equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless.

To date, ShelterBox is committed to providing these boxes to nearly 6,500 families. They have a response team of 24 highly-trained disaster relief experts on the ground and have committed to stay into 2014 to get the job done.  Several of the team members have been equipped with XCom Global’s mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. Having secure, reliable Internet connectivity during recovery efforts has proven to be invaluable – giving team members improved access to information and communications.

David Hatcher is a retired police chief and now dedicated ShelterBox volunteer and trained Response Team Member. This is the first time he has used an XCom Global mobile Wi-Fi hotspot and the benefits became immediately clear to him as soon as he powered it up in the field. David recently sent us this update: “The hotspots are a real boon to improving the effectiveness of communication in the field. Already ShelterBox has teams spread across the area of the Typhoon damage and in particular is now working in Tacloban and a number of other locations that have been affected by both the typhoon and the storm surge. Thank you again for the generous provision of these units that will greatly assist in maintaining and improving efficiency of our service.”

XCom Global is pleased to offer grants to relief organizations and volunteers like those with ShelterBox who are participating in disaster recovery and other charitable missions. More information can be found on our Disaster Relief webpage.

Join us this week as we interview Carl Williams from Peace Boat, an international non-governmental and non-profit organization that works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development and respect for the environment. XCom Global recently teamed up with Peace Boat to offer all international emergency personal unlimited access to network services under their Wi-Fi for Disaster Relief program.

1. Can you tell us a bit about Peace Boat and the nature of your work?

Peace Boat JapanCarl: Peace Boat is an international non-governmental and non-profit organization in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The organization works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development and respect for the environment through global educational programs, cooperative projects and advocacy activities on global peace voyages. As part of its wider peace building activities, Peace Boat has carried out disaster relief activities since 1995. Peace Boat began its disaster relief work following the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (Kobe, 1995) and since then has provided disaster relief assistance in Japan and around the world. Following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011, Peace Boat established the Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center (PBV) to focus on emergency relief, specializing in the training, dispatch and coordination of volunteers to support disaster stricken areas around the globe including a deployment to New York following hurricane Sandy.

My work with Peace Boat has developed from a field volunteer providing cleanup and sheltering of survivors during the initial response in Tohoku to an advisory Disaster Preparedness Planner. As a university educated computer science major and emergency manager, and experienced US Air Force disaster and contingency planner, I was invited in October to lead ongoing efforts to develop disaster IT standards in Japan.

XCom Global’s support has been central to my relief actions during my stay in Japan over the last two years.

2. How does XCom Global play a role into Peace Boat’s mission & operations?

Carl: XCom Global understands that even in this age of rising prosperity and in Japan, a country known for its advanced technology, nature is still the ultimate power and can bring us to our knees during a disaster. The earthquake and tsunami resulted in thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in damage. Vast communities were without power and communication capabilities which left us unable to properly deploy relief until alternate means of communication were established.

Given the scale of the challenges faced by responding international teams to Japan, XCom Global offered all international emergency personal unlimited access to network services while conducting relief operations in Japan. The inescapable fact is that XCom Global, a private sector firm, had a critical role to play and quickly assisted by getting help where that it was disparately needed.

Without XCom Global technology contribution and business model of hardened communication infrastructures and elements of “resilient operating systems”, many of our emergency managers would have been helpless to save lives or affect recovery efforts effectively. We did what was needed and in every manner that mattered. XCom Global provided the technologies to link networks, scale data analysis and provide decision-makers the timely information which guide responses.

3. What types of activities does Peace Boat do using XCom Global’s devices?

Peace Boat JapanCarl: In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, PBV immediately dispatched personnel to the disaster-stricken areas. Volunteers commenced relief activities in two of the worst affected areas, the cities of Ishinomaki and Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture. As we enter into the third year mark since the disaster, the number of volunteers and organizations in the affected areas continue to wane; however we still have the support and understanding of XCom Global. PBV will continue working closely with the local people along this long path to recovery.

In Fukushima Prefecture, where the nuclear power plant accident and its consequences are still very much a reality, we provide recreational and educational programs. These programs are directed at children and young adults by connecting Fukushima to the rest of the world.

4. How does your organization use social media channels as part of its overall strategy? What impact has social media had on your operations?

Carl: Just last month I sponsored a Japanese research team through regions of the US stricken by recent disasters. The team from NHK, Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai, Japan Broadcasting Corporation is Japan’s national public broadcasting organization is reporting on the use of social media during the disaster cycle.

A visit to our online communities will reveal compelling stories of how the use of social media helped response, relief and recovery efforts in Japan. Parts of the social media efforts assisted with disseminating vital information, to organize volunteer efforts, and attract donations to help with the overall process.

Perhaps the most poignant of these stories reported on Facebook was where a friend of Peace Boat described our information as “key” to recovery and providing a strong understanding of where her skills and efforts were mostly needed. “You couldn’t get out to the city to see what was happening, but you had eyes in Facebook,” said this early member of a kick-off team which dispatched to the area within days of the disaster. The internet became instrumental of harnessing virtual volunteers and in raising money for relief and recovery. Reporting and accountability happened in real time with updates through our use of social media.

5. What goals does Peace Boat have in mind for the future?

Peace Boat participates in a cross-sector emergency relief exercises in Shizuoka Prefecture, where the Great Tokai Earthquake is predicted to occur. This is a joint exercise, held every year since 2005, between governmental, semi-governmental and civil society groups simulating the response after a major earthquake in the area.

XCom Global’s gift of connectivity supports these exercises by putting the right set of tools in the hands of our invited international volunteer staff. The strict rules of ownership in Japan and high cost of obtaining connectivity is no longer an issue for visiting participants working to strengthen disaster recovery.

6. To wrap it up, would you like to say anything to your supporters?

Carl: We truly appreciate all continued involvement and supporter of PBV’s activities. The generosity and caring continues to help us assist those affected by disasters around the world.

Looking for a way to add something special to your Holiday travels this year?  We’re kick-starting our busy holiday season with an unbeatable deal.  Rent your international mobile hotspot from XCom Global between now and December 31th, and enjoy free return shipping (a $14.95 value!).

To redeem: when you are placing your order using the online ordering system, the checkout process will ask if you have a promo or discount code. Enter the code “FREERETURNSHIP″ to receive the free return shipping on your rental order.  Thank you all for your continued support!

The sale runs now until December 31, 2013.

The following is a guest post by RTWgirl, a freelance travel writer and travel blogger.  You can follow RTWgirl on twitter @RTWgirl_

RTWgirl in Canada

I am a freelance travel writer, and in September, I left to go up to Vancouver, Canada, for a travel assignment. Vancouver happens to be my hometown, so I go there several times year to visit my elderly father, family, and friends. This visit was going to be different because I was going to be working while there. I was scheduled to be there for a few weeks and didn’t want to roam with my American mobile provider and come back to a costly cell phone bill.

In the past, I would purchase a SIM card from Canadian cellular companies like FIDO or Rogers to use while visiting. In case you didn’t know, Canadian mobile plans, especially prepaid plans for travelers, are some of the most expensive mobile plans in the world. The average cost of a mobile data package is $25 Canadian pre-tax, and that’s only for 500 MB of data. In the past I would buy a phone and text plan, but now that most of my friends are using iPhones and its iMessage service, data is almost vital for communication. And this is only for data for my smart phone; I have not touched on needing Wi-Fi for my laptop or tablet.

I searched on Google for different services available before I left. A friend who had traveled to Canada previously used a worldwide SIM card. I checked it out and broke down the costs. It was virtually the same as buying a SIM from the foreign mobile company but handy in the sense that you were able to get the card prior to your departure. Then I came across XCom Global — I looked at their website and Twitter account, and read positive reviews from users and a great review on the tech website Engadget.

Under normal circumstances, you would contact XCom Global and receive the device prior to your departure. But since I did not know about the company in advance I ordered the hotspot to be shipped to my address in Canada. The unit arrived to me in Vancouver in a carrying case with two batteries, a charger, and an instruction manual. I hadn’t even left the FedEx parking lot when I connected my smart phone to the mobile hotspot. It was so simple to connect. When I got back to my father’s house I connected my laptop and tablet to the hotspot as well. I was beyond thrilled!

A solo hike at Francis Point Provincial Park on the Sunshine Coast of B.C.

A solo hike at Francis Point Provincial Park on the Sunshine Coast of B.C.

I traveled with the hotspot unit throughout British Columbia for my assignment. I went up to Whistler via bus and was able to work steadily on my laptop and phone for the two-hour ride there and back. I used it on the ferry to the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island. I took it with me on a solo hike through a provincial park and was able to inform my family that I was safe. I even used it on my regular ride on the SkyTrain, Vancouver’s version of a subway system. There wasn’t a place that I had issues connecting with the hotspot in Vancouver.  Service may vary in some foreign countries, but the Wi-Fi connection in Canada worked out well for me. It worked out even better because my phone bill wasn’t atrocious when I got back home.

The only issue I had when using the mobile hotspot unit was its battery life. I think the spare was a bit old and would die quickly, but I found a solution to that. As someone who works on the road, I carry an external battery charger. I was able to plug it into the mobile hotspot to keep it running. I know I must sound like an addict, but when you are a freelancer and work on the road, it’s pretty vital to be constantly connected.

I’m currently in New York City, and my cousin from Australia was in town for ten days on business. We didn’t speak to each other before he arrived, otherwise I would have told him about renting an XCom Global unit; he told me that on his last two-week trip to the Philippines, his and his brother’s cell bills were about $2,000 AUS each! They had to make phone calls back to Australia for work and check emails. Had he rented an XCom Global unit prior to his trip, he could have powered up to five devices and saved a lot of money. I’m interested to know how much his bill will be for this New York trip—we texted each other a lot just to meet up, and I would have to turn off my data and text him internationally because he didn’t have data and access to his iMessage.

If you’re on a short business trip and have a return flight booked and have had big cell phone bills in the past, this is a great option for you. Your phone will be connected so you can read emails, send texts, and make phone calls from online services like Skype or Viber. If you travel out of the country with a team for sales meetings or a convention/trade show, this is also an option for you. I had a great experience with XCom Global, and it’s definitely going to be my go-to company for data service for short international trips. I couldn’t recommend them more.