Net2Roam Service - GRIC
£15 for 2 weeks
Simple to install. Cheaper than taking an AOL or Compuserve ongoing subscription.
No 24/7 support outside the U.S. Client software for the Mac already exists from GRIC, but no version for Net2Roam users.
A roaming internet service for Europeans, aimed at all types of users. Transparent as far as third-party software is concerned. Good for vacation usage.
Like iPass, GRIC is one of the world's two major internet roaming facilitators, with services aimed at both business and consumer users.
In Europe, GRIC's main partner is Net2Roam, a U.K.-based company that allows users to sign up for a two-week, three month or annual subscription, and then pay-as-you-go for internet access.
The two-week service costs £15 and includes £4 worth of credits, while the three-month service costs £35 and includes £8 worth of credits. The annual deal costs £55 and includes £16 worth of credits. Each extra credit costs between 5p and 8p and entitles you to between 15 and 60 seconds of access to the internet, depending on where in the world you're using the service.
That may sound expensive, but North American access is charged at just one credit a minute and Europe costs 1.5 credits a minute.
GRIC/Net2Roam also supports its own email, so you can send email via the relay.net2roam.com servers. You can also set up the Net2Roam email service to make it look as though you are sending email from your usual address.
At the moment, only Windows users have their own dialer software (4.7Mb), but Apple Mac, PDA and Linux users will find in-depth information on the Net2Roam site on how to configure their software to use the GRIC network.
Net2Roam doesn't have access to the entire global GRIC network, but only supports dialup, ISDN and Wi-Fi access (which has yet to be launched). Despite this, users can still access 17,000 access ports in 150 countries, although toll-free internet access is more limited than on iPass.
The service uses a customised version of the GRICDial software, and works like the old TCP/IP dialers seen under Windows 3.1 as a client that can be minimised.
Unlike the AOL and CompuServe clients, the GRICdial client does not interfere with VPN software from the likes of Cisco and others, and is transparent to all the encryption and VPN applications we have encountered.
Online support and documentation is excellent. Users can access telephone and online support between 9am and 7pm U.K. time, seven days a week. Users working outside the U.K. will get a call back from the support team to save on a hefty phone bill.