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Cell phone in Europe: voice + internet (data)


Mar 21st, 2012, 10:59 PM
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Cell phone in Europe: voice + internet (data)

I will be travelling through the 3 countries and I want to take my own cell phone with me and buy a European SIM card and load it with some minutes to talk and GB for the internet (data). I will probably have to buy the card in France.

1. Could you recommend me a provider or providers ? good coverage in the areas I'm planning to travel is very very important.
2. Is it better to have a provider that covers the three countries (if so, would I have to pay roaming rates?) or is it better to have one provider per country?
3. Does the iPhone 4 works with European frequencies?

I will need the SIM card for the following number of days per country:
France: 4 days (mainly Paris, one day at Loire Valley)
Italy: 7 days (mainly Rome, 1 day in Pompei and 1 day in Tuscany)
Spain: 2 days

I will appreciate your help!
bquinons is offline  
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 04:19 AM
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There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of posts on this topic.

The minimum information anyone would need to help you is what brand and model of phone you already have and who your home carrier is.
Ackislander is offline  
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 05:22 AM
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1. If you need all of this for an iPhone, you will need to find the a retailer that has the special micro SIM that the iPhone uses. I am an Android user but to my knowledge, all of the iPhones will operate on the required 900/1800mHz frequencies for Europe.

2. No one provider will give you coverage in 3 different countries at local rates. If you purchase a SIM in France, you will be charged roaming when in Italy and Spain (assuming the SIM works in all of those countries which is not always the case).

3. Short term voice/data plans are very, very expensive. Apple in Paris had a voice/data SIM available at 3€, good for one day. It required your purchasing a new SIM for each day of use meaning your number changed every day. This SIM used the Orange network which has very comprehensive coverage.

4. If you can accept voice/SMS plans only, there are some very inexpensive solutions but add data and the prices escalate rapidly.

5. I might suggest two solutions: a. use a roaming plan offered by your current provider (and expect a sizable bill for the month of your travel) or b. check with one of the many Orange boutiques upon your arrival in Paris.
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 02:54 PM
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I can answer the Spain one. I am in Spain right now and Yoigo is by far the best voice-msg-data plan I found. For 20EU, I got 20EU voice/msg plus 500MB data usable for a month. I am not sure how the accounting worked. I definitely paid only 20EU and the data plan is supposed to by 8EU for 500MB for one month. But the balance says 20EU. Someone told me they had internet special earlier, but thought they no longer offered that. Oh, by the way they also gave me 1st 20 text messages free to anywhere. Vodafone is twice as expensive for the same offering while Movistar does not offer any prepaid data plan.

For those people who think a copy of passport would do in Spain, I tried that at the Yoigo store. The store clerk said, no, it must be an original passport to be able to get a SIM. I happened have the real passport in my neckpouch when I visited the Yoigo store.
greg is offline  
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 07:25 PM
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Unless your U.S. phone is a triband or quadband phone, it's not going to work in Europe anyway. If it is, all you need to do is get SIM cards in each country. In France, try Lebara or Orange. In Italy, try TIM.Don't know about Spain.

If you just go for the roaming charges on your US phone, expect unreasonably huge fees for that. Like hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a few calls, a few texts, and a few checks of your email. NOT the way to go.
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 10:35 PM
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Here is the information missing:
model: iPhone 4
carrier: Claro (Peru, Southamerica)
here in Peru I have 3G (is that the triband you are talking about StCirq? my phone doesn´t support 4G)...

Since it´s not a US or European phone, previous post were not entirely good for me.

Thanks for the names of the carriers, I will look through the internet to look for the plans.

Sarastro, does the Apple SIM 3 euros give you voice + data or you have to buy extra minutes + Gb?
bquinons is offline  
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Mar 23rd, 2012, 07:34 AM
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bquinons - iPhones accept a smaller SIM than what is offered by some of the mentioned companies - Lebara for example does not offer what you need. The Apple, 3€ SIM was written about last summer, it was voice/data capable and lasted only one day meaning you would need to purchase more than one for multiple day coverage. I do not remember its having voice/data caps and I cannot confirm that it is still available.

GSM phones in Peru operate on 1900mHz, phones in Europe operate on 900/1800mHz but I rather doubt that iPhones are manufactured without capabilities for all four frequencies - it would just be easier for an international company like Apple to manufacture them all the same - quad band.

What I have noticed over the last several years is that the mobile phone service options are constantly changing and prices are dropping. With the iPhone widely available in the places you want to travel, I am sure you will find reasonably priced solutions sufficient for your needs.

In your shoes, I would find a Phonehouse boutique as soon as I arrived in Paris and ask about options. Phonehouse has stores all over Paris and they are the largest independent retailer in Europe. Orange also will have answers for you but Orange´s offers are not generally the cheapest. You could also ask at Apple, they have a relatively new store just below the Pyramid of le Louvre.
Sarastro is offline  
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Mar 23rd, 2012, 07:55 AM
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I used my AT&T phone in Europe last year. "hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a few calls, a few texts"? Hmm... two calls and four texts.. No where CLOSE to a hundred dollars much less "hundreds"

So depending on your definition of a 'few' it can be just as cheap to use the roaming feature and skip the hassle of buying a SIM card etc.

Now if your definition of a "few" is really what I would consider more useage (AKA as at least 10 a day and long calls) then get a SIM.

If you make one call/text to let folks know "i have arrived" and use it only for emergencies... it's not worth the hassle to change the SIM IMHO.

Honestly, "days" is not a method to make a decision. Amount of usage is what you need to decide.

For emails I just used WIFI. If it's an emergency my family will call and my office can wait until I find Wifi... if I bother to check at all.
CarolA is offline  
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Mar 23rd, 2012, 08:22 AM
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Where people run into problems using a roaming plan, such as what AT&T offers, is really with data downloads. If you use your phone in France, in the same manner as you use it at home or if you forget to disable these features: GPS functions, multimedia download, internet usage, news updates, etc. there have been many reports of additional billings in the hundreds of dollars.

Still, French SIMs never charge for inbound calls, and outbound calls are charged at rates closer to pennies per minute rather than the dollars per minute that AT&T charges. Purchasing a French SIM is hardly a hassle, they are sold everywhere news papers are sold, I have purchased them in the métro.

It it very easy to avoid the outrageous roaming charges levied by US providers and pickup a French SIM and save a bundle of money.
Sarastro is offline  
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Mar 24th, 2012, 06:07 PM
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First of all is your iphone unlocked, if so you can get a local sim in one of those countries, and just use it in the others (roaming at ok rates of course). If not unlocked, just get a cheap unlocked phone, and use as I already suggested. Roaming rates in the EU have been capped, so it should be ok to use the sim from one EU country, in another. OTOH, for just a ferw calls, you may as well just roam and do not bother with a local sim. Just make sure data is turned off.
mrcamp is offline  
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Apr 19th, 2012, 02:50 AM
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www.Telestial.com have some pretty good prepaid options for travel in Europe. They also do microSIMs for iPhones.
NJB73 is offline  
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Apr 19th, 2012, 03:00 AM
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Roaming data is expensive, so if you buy a sim in France then use it for data in Spain you could quickly reach your limit.
If you can make do without a data plan and use free wifi sites you will save a lot of money.
Your phone must be unlocked for you to use another providers sim in it.
I agree that if you are just making a few calls/texts then it is probably cheaper to use your current provider and their roaming service - with data turned off - that is vital or you could end up with a serious bill!
hetismij2 is offline  
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Apr 19th, 2012, 08:39 AM
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one other option for you to consider (if you are still looking for options?) is buying a microsim from MAXRoam. They aren't the most economical, the data plan is fairly expensive. But you can get a MAXROam sim over the internet, before you leave, they are good in multiple countries, and the data allowance doesn't expire. What this means is while you only get a small amount...like 50GB for $14, I think...you don't have to use it up in a month. You can keep using that 50GB until its gone, and then buy more.

Its worth at least checking the prices and whether they have something that works in your phone. I htink I wouldn't recommend them for someone spending several weeks in France, but could work if you are bopping around Europe.

Full disclosure...I haven't actually used the service yet, its just something I've been researching, since I was going to be in 2 different countries 2 months apart, it might be a good deal for me.
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