Cell Phone Data in Multiple Countries

Old May 4th, 2016, 02:57 PM
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Cell Phone Data in Multiple Countries

Hi All,

Looking for some help! Heading to Europe for a little bit of vacation & work May 11-25th.
Starting in Athens, but will also be spending time in Rome, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam.

I'm a data hog in the United States. Constantly checking work email & apps. I have contacted AT&T to unlock my iPhone which has been done successfully. I'm trying to figure out how to obtain a SIM card (or multiple) that can support the amount of data I'm going to be using while abroad. I realize that Wi-Fi is frequent, but I'm doing multiple "day-trips" by car and will need to have data accessible during these times.

I'd appreciate any advice you can give regarding plans & prices, as well as locations where SIM cards can be obtained and have someone help me activate in case there is a language issue during activation!

Thank you in advance!
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Old May 4th, 2016, 03:03 PM
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Look on ebay for the sim card offered by Orange Spain which might fill the bill.
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Old May 4th, 2016, 03:15 PM
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When I bought a cell phone in UK, I bought a 10Pound sim card. When I got to France, it would not work. I had to buy a 10Euro sim card. When I got to Spain, same again. So, my suggestion is to buy a sim card that works in all countries first. They can be bought and can save you a lot of aggravation.
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Old May 4th, 2016, 05:55 PM
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The times they are changing. There have been dramatically lower roaming fees within the eu for voice and texts. Roaming charges for voice and texts will disappear next year and roaming charges for data will be capped next year. But I still think the Orange Spain card I saw offered on ebay will lower data costs dramatically.

Incidentally t-mobile usa gives unlimited data for use while traveling in Europe albeit only 2g...sufficient for many purposes and of course many hotels provide free wifi which will work while in the hotel.
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Old May 5th, 2016, 12:48 AM
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I've bought SIM cards in Greece for Cosmote and Vodafone, and a good place to go is a branch of the electronics store Germanos. The clerk in the store should help you set up the SIM in your phone. As xyz123 wrote, the EU is making it easy to roam within EU countries, so a SIM bought in one should work in the others without breaking the bank.

Not sure why you need to have constant access to data during day trips, but for sure you will need 3G or 4G coverage to do so. That may be a problem in some rural areas even if your SIM supports it.
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Old May 5th, 2016, 01:12 AM
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You need to be sure a PAYG SIM can be used while roaming, and know how you can add more money to it while travelling. You may have to send a text message to allow roaming for instance, and will need to be able to put more money on it using a website and foreign credit card, rather than buying vouchers.
It could be easier to just buy a SIM per country even with the reduction in roaming fees.
Many PAYG SIMs offer 3G or less when roaming.
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Old May 5th, 2016, 02:38 AM
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My advice is to throttle back your mobile data usage because it's going to get expensive. Use WiFi where possible.

You can get PAYG SIM with decent data allowances but it might be less than you are used to.

In Germany, look for an independent new/used cell phone shop (usually run by Turkish folks) as they will have a variety of options for you.

Flyertalk has a thread you should check out:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trave...i-country.html
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Old May 5th, 2016, 05:29 AM
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Do you have any idea how much data you would normally use in a month? Checking email and using apps (unless they're video streaming apps) doesn't usually mean you're a "data hog".

Since you'll be in four countries in two weeks, it hardly seems worthwhile to buy four different SIM cards and four data plans.

I recently learned of an international data only SIM card that might suit your case.

http://www.keepgo.com

It's rather expensive, but it has several advantages. It works in all of Europe and many other countries. It can easily be topped up from anywhere. It doesn't expire (although the data plan does) so you can use it on future trips.

The $69 basic plan includes the SIM card and gives you one gb of data, which should be enough for two weeks for the kind of usage you mention. I notice that in Italy their partner is Wind, which doesn't have great coverage in rural areas, but should be fine in Rome.

Note that this plan has no provision for talk or text usage. You'd need a different solution for those, maybe Face Time, since you have an iPhone.

By the way, that Flyer Talk link is full of incorrect and outdated information. Phone plans are constantly changing, so always check the date of information you find online.
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Old May 5th, 2016, 05:32 AM
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It's true that the EU is scaling back voice roaming costs, but data roaming continues to cost a lot. Many EU providers have data roaming plans that either are expensive, or give you a piddling amount of data, or both.
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Old May 5th, 2016, 05:48 AM
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I went to Germany over the long weekend and I paid £5 for a 250MB data roaming pass.
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Old May 5th, 2016, 06:04 AM
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Sparkchaser, it's not clear to me what you got for£5. Your usual provider (who is it?) sold you a pass for data roaming specifically for Germany? Was it just for a few days? Is your basic plan PAYG?

We have data roaming plans also in Italy that are reasonably priced, but the amount of data wouldn't satisy a "data hog", and, while I can top up my credit online, it would require an Italian credit card to do so. The solutions I can use when roaming within Europe are not always convenient for a tourist from outside Europe.

Nicolette needs something she can buy in Greece and use in three other countries.
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Old May 5th, 2016, 06:10 AM
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I have a contract with Virgin. The roaming rate outside of the UK was more than I wanted to pay so I called and they said they had a roaming data plan £5 for 250MB. I have that 250MB for 30 days although I was only gone four. I don't think it is country specific because I was also able to data roam at CPH.

I'll know more when I get my bill next month
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Old May 5th, 2016, 06:28 AM
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bvlenci,

Thank you so much for your information. This seems like it may be a good solution. On average, I use 8-10GB/month, and that's with having wi-fi on at home and at my office. I do a lot of "out of office" work in real estate. Constantly downloading PDFs from our online filing system to be able to view contracts, inspection reports, etc. Also a ton of push email from my work email.

Anyway, the Keepgo looks good, but I think it might be in my best interest to obtain a SIM in each country as length of time in each one will differ. When I'm in Germany, for example, I'll need a ton with very good coverage as I'll be out daily and away from wi-fi. In Rome, I'll have wi-fi more accessible, etc.

Thoughts?
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Old May 5th, 2016, 08:35 AM
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if you have a phone without simlock, just buy sims with data on them in each country you visit.

I've got a dutch t-mobile sub, with 12GB data monthly. I can extend that with a roaming pass, and I can now take 250mb with me across the border. The cost buying a sim with 2GB data is often far cheaper than t-mobile's offerings, so I've started doing that while abroad. One thing: make sure you store nothing on your sim. If you throw one away, then at least it's empty of your personal data, such as sms messages, contacts etc.
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Old May 6th, 2016, 04:36 AM
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I don't know how you manage to use 8-10 gb per month with the type of usage you describe. 8 gb would be about 500,000 pages of pdf files if they were mostly text. Email usually takes up less space. There must be something else going on with your data usage.
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Old May 6th, 2016, 04:37 AM
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email, pdfs, Facebook, Whatsapp, Spotify, Google Maps, etc. They all add up.
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Old May 6th, 2016, 06:11 AM
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I don't think you can make those apps add up to 8 gb for a 2-week trip. Maybe if you're streaming video a lot, but she's only mentioned work usage: email and downloading .pdf files.

There are lots of ways to minimize data usage when traveling: turn off automatic updates, ramp down your phone's default photo size, use SD instead of HD video, turn off autoplay video. When I'm traveling, I manage with about 500mb a week, and I do all the things mentioned by Nicolette, and then some. I even use my phone to tether my tablet when I don't have wifi.
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Old May 6th, 2016, 10:48 AM
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250MB is very, very little data. By contrast, our teens went through 1GB of data -- each -- within four days. They used their phones for a lot of navigation, which is handy but really eats up data. By contrast, 1GB lasted me the whole 10 days, because I used it much more sparingly.

Looking up maps while you have WiFI and taking screenshots of what you need can cut your data use dramatically.
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Old May 6th, 2016, 12:48 PM
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I'm a heavy data user, I upload photos, videos, i watch the odd video, i use google maps, look up the odd thing online... last year in france, i took 10 days to use 2GB, but i curtailed my online behaviour considerably. FB is where a lot of the heavy data stuff happens. you really need to switch off automatic video play there.
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Old May 6th, 2016, 10:49 PM
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I would check the settings on your phone to insure you aren't using data unnecessarily, for instance with apps that automatically refresh when you aren't using them.
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