In France mobile operator Orange has launched a true pay as you go data plan named appropriately “Internet Everywhere” that combines WiFi access to their nationwide network of hotspots with 3G data over their cutting edge HSUPA/HSDPA network.
How it works is very easy. You buy one 3G data USB stick at a mobile retailer, in my case, FNAC. You install the software (note on a PC it does disable Windows and internal on board WiFi on most laptops but that can be fixed easily). They give you a SIM with a French mobile number (which means the service is SMS capable) and two hours of usage credit.
To use the service you simply log on, buy the amount of credit you plan to use over a 15 day period (for me its six hour blocks at 25 Euros per whack) and start to surf.
Of course there are a few caveats:
1) VoIP is prohibited
2) P2P is prohibited (this means Skype)
3) No streaming.
I can live with this as I can find other access where I can do all that.
For me, this is web and email, some IM and that’s about it. Oh, one more caveat. You have to remember to mail in a form by French post, showing your French address. Agian, for me, no problem. I have an office in Paris that receives local mail for me.