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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in laterlife

May 2011

Getting the most from your computerYou can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web. 

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring.

Jackie has also written the books shown here - you can find more details about these by clicking on the cover images above. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s. 

Every day computer activitiesVia Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, why not email her 

Or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too..

View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers


May 2011

Surfing The Internet on Holiday

When selecting a broadband package, most of us consider our use in the home and try to find the most appropriate service that can also include telephone and TV.

But what do you do when you want to use a laptop on holiday or for the odd trip within the UK?

There are two things to consider:

  • How often are you likely to use it?
  • How much downloading will you do?

Regular use

If using a computer away from home is a very common occurrence, one of the best choices might be to install a BT broadband package – the BT Home Hub - at home. This is because, as a BT customer, you will then be able to use BT Wi-fi hotspots for free wherever you are staying. The system is known as BT Openzone and there is an extremely wide coverage across the UK. (See

The problem with BT broadband is that, unless you are happy to have a very limited download cap at home, it can be quite expensive compared to other suppliers, even with the various cashback and other offers that may be available. For example, rates not including phone line rental can be:

10GB limit with free weekend and evening calls - £13 p.m.
10GB limit and anytime calls - £16 p.m.
40GB limit and weekend calls - £18 p.m.
No limit and anytime calls - £28 p.m.

Without BT broadband installed, you can still use the hotspots by paying for BT Openzone directly. There are various packages but a common choice is to pay £5 p.m. plus VAT for a year's subscription. This will give you 500 minutes each month i.e. light use for general browsing and checking your emails.

A slightly different system for BT customers is BTFON ( where you share broadband use. Members share your home broadband through a special public channel (you still keep your own Internet use private) and you can then access their shared broadband for free when you are away and close to a community member.

BT fon

Again, if you are not a BT customer, you can become a member of the Fon community for £29+ by purchasing a special router called the Fontera that links your own broadband into the system.

A different system that is very similar to mobile phones is to use a USB dongle or memory stick that plugs into a laptop. Dongles are provided by a number of mobile phone companies such as O2, T-mobile, 3, Vodafone and Orange and with subscription services the equipment is normally provided free.

For one or two year subscriptions, you will probably pay between £10 and £20 p.m. and will be able to download up to 15GB per month. According to one company, 3GB per month is equivalent to 100 minutes online, sending 2,000 emails, downloading 200 music tracks or watching 100 YouTube clips. If you go over your limit, you will either have to pay for extra GBs or activity may be restricted by the company on a Fair Use policy.

Occasional use

For most of us, it is more likely that we will want to use mobile broadband for a few days during a one or two week holiday and so will not want to take out an annual subscription or buy special equipment.

Here, you can use dongles monthly or, with some companies even daily or weekly. You normally have to buy your own dongle and the first month's allowance and then use vouchers or go online to pay for further use e.g. £2 a day or £7 per week.

Note that use is consecutive – if you don't use up your daily or weekly allowance, the minutes cannot be carried forward.



You can also pay for BT FON on a minute, day or longer basis if you want to use a FON or Openzone hotspot. Go to for all the details. Costs at present include:
By the minute – 15p plus VAT
90 minutes - £5.99
24 hours - £9.99
5 days - £26.99

If you are in the right spot, you may also be able to connect to the portal and pay for access directly.


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The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

It includes both one off articles and also associated regular columns of a more specialist nature such as Healthwise, Gardener's Diary, our regular IT question and answer section called YoucandoIT and there's also 'It could be you' by Maggi Stamp laterlife's counsellor on human relationships. 

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