Wifi or 3G, which should you use, and what's the difference between them? In very simple terms, your laptop can have the capability of using either wifi (Wireless Fidelity) or 3G (3rd Generation) technology to connect to the internet without using cables or modems. Wifi will use "hotspots" to give you a coverage area, and 3G will use the mobile network. To connect to wifi, your laptop needs to be wireless capable (most modern ones will be). To use a 3G USB device, you just need a USB port.
Is one better than the other? Not really, whichever is most convenient. There might be some advantages with coverage using 3G as the mobile network covers a large area of not just the main islands, but also most of the popular offshore Mamanuca and Yasawa island chains. To use wifi, you need to be in a hotspot area, and those are generally found at your resort or internet cafes. With 3G, if you can get a cellphone signal, you can be connected to the 'net.
Not so long ago, your internet options in Fiji were limited to using an old slow computer in the resort lobby, or finding an internet cafe in one of the main centers. But things have changed in Fiji over the past few years, and 3G has become more widely available.
No longer do you have to pay ridiculous prices, or wait in line for a free computer. You can browse the 'net, check emails, send files, all from the comfort and privacy of your bure or hotel room, using your own laptop or other 3G device. It's easy to get connected, and surprisingly cheap.
The Vodafone shop in the arrivals area of Nadi airport sells Vodafone 3G dongles for fj$39, this comes with 1GB of free data. It is actually easier to buy this than to put credit onto your NZ or Australian dongle. Just uninstall youu current dongle if you have one, then run the setup for your new Fijian one... it saves computer conflicts if you uninstall first before you plug in the new one.
Tip! If you don't think that 1GB will be enough for you, then buy extra data when you get the new dongle. Don't wait until you are running out to try and find a Vodafone shop and go through the hassle of trying to get topped up (speaking from experience).
While coverage can be a bit patchy in some of the remote places, it makes sense to use this in preference to purchasing a wifi card at your resort. Many places sell a connect scratch card for wifi, which can cost up to fj$30 for 24hrs. Of course, if the resort offers free wifi, that's great, but most of the budget places will charge you.
Prices start at fj$6 for 400mb. If you want a reasonable amount of data, then 2gb will cost fj$25 (this is about 1/3 the price you pay for the same thing in NZ!). You can either purchase a USB Flashnet device (known as a "dongle" in Australia, and a "Mobile Broadband USB Stick" in NZ) at any of the Vodafone shops in Fiji, or bring your own and get it recharged in Fiji. There is a Vodafone shop in Nadi airport, so you could get yourself set up almost as soon as you arrive in the country.
This stretches from Nadi, along the Coral Coast to Suva and surrounds. Also the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands, as well as most of the main offshore islands such as Ovalau and Kadavu. For areas that don't pick up 3G, then there is the slower 2G. Vodafone has 320 3G base stations, and cover the majority of the "tourist belt" so chances are, you will be in an area that has good service.
It's quick and simple to convert your mobile for use in Fiji. A new sim card will cost you $25 at the airport, which comes with 1hr local calls and 1hr international... very cheap compared to NZ mobile prices.
If you don't have a cellphone, then you can buy a cheap throwaway Nokia at the Vodafone shop for fj$59. Nothing fancy, but it works well, and it's at the right price.
Top up phone cards are available at almost any supermarket, service station or general store in Fiji. We chose to use Vodafone, although there are other companies such as Digicel. Top up cards come in only two denominations, fj$6 and fj$11. All the mobile companies offer regular specials too, such as a "double up Friday" where you get your minutes doubled.
Getting connected in Fiji really is easy these days!
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