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anngmoore Mar 31st, 2012 06:50 AM

Cell phones for Ital
Friends and I are taking a bus trip to Italy for 2 weeks that also has a fair amount of time on our own. I was considering getting a cell phone. We both have Verizon and our phones are locked so we can't get a SIM card for them. I have seen some on line for as little at $30.oo that can be used in 160 countries. You do not put any money on a card but rather the fees just go to your credit card. Has anyone used this type of a plan or phone in Italy before? How is the reception ? I've also been told to buy one at the airport in Italy but would rather have things figured out before we go.

greg Mar 31st, 2012 07:33 AM

There are different things to figure out between buying before or after getting. The timing of risks is different.

Before: You can figure out how to use the phone, but have to figure out how to make calls depending on which country's SIM card you ended up with and the type of services. Also you have to make sure the frequencies match. So you postpone operating uncertainties to a later time. If you can get an unlocked quadband phone, you only have to buy SIM cards in Italy.

After: It would work correctly as a local phone. You have to figure out how to use the phone. This should be a one time hit upon buying a phone. The sales person usually does few things on the phone and on the carrier side to make as much things as possible to appear in English. Because these type of services offered by major carriers are meant for locals, the pricing seem to be competitive.

Generally, I don't like attaching my credit card to phone services I use overseas. I don't know how much end up on my card. With prepaid, there is an upper bound on expenses.

I have used Vodafone and TIM. I liked TIM fee structure much better than the Vodafone.

Bronxbomber Mar 31st, 2012 07:56 AM

At home I just phoned my carrier - AT&T - and they walked me through the unlocking procedure. Now I'm good for wherever I go, where I get the local SIM card.

StCirq Mar 31st, 2012 07:58 AM

I'd either get the phone unlocked and buy a SIM card when you arrive or buy a cheap phone at a TIM or other store when you get there.

anngmoore Mar 31st, 2012 09:18 AM

I am not familiar with the term TIM. I have the i phone 4s through verizon. I went to the local store and they told me that I can not unlock the phone.

StCirq Mar 31st, 2012 09:23 AM

It's not true that you can't unlock the phone, no matter what they tell you. You can usually go online and get the unlocking code. A TIM store is an Italian cell phone chain - there's at least one other, but I can't remember the name of it at the moment. You could google it.

PatriciaOne Mar 31st, 2012 09:27 AM

I got service on my phone through Verizon. Supposedly, I have no roaming charges, can text, and can call in Italy and back home. Got the Value Plan pro-rated for time there cost .99 per minute. Had to turn some things off and type in a code. Told I do not need to use a country code but must use the "+" before the local US area code to call home. I can call those I'm traveling with too.

caroline_edinburgh Mar 31st, 2012 09:30 AM

TIM is one of the main Italian phone providers - it has its own shops, as do other providers like Vodaphone and WIND. I bought the cheapest available Nokia in a Vodaphone shop in Venice last week for E29.95, it was available to use instantly and works exactly like my old British Nokia (which is why I chose it!). It wasn't hard to work out how to change the display language from Italian to English. I also bought a E20 deal which included a month's unlimited texts & other stuff, but you can buy a topup code in many shops including supermarkets.

caroline_edinburgh Mar 31st, 2012 09:33 AM

P.S. DH got a (more expensive) phone at the same shop & Vodaphone offers free calls to 1 other Italian Vodaphone number, so that's quite handy for us & could be hnady if you & your friend are both getting one.

kybourbon Mar 31st, 2012 09:58 AM

>>>anngmoore on Mar 31, 12 at 1:18pm
I am not familiar with the term TIM. I have the i phone 4s through verizon. I went to the local store and they told me that I can not unlock the phone.<<<<

Probably true depending on your phone. Many Verizon phones are not GSM so you can't put a SIM card in them. They are CDMA and don't have SIM cards (many Sprint phones are the same way). To use a phone in Europe, it must be a quad band GSM.

kybourbon Mar 31st, 2012 10:08 AM

TIM is the name of the company Telecom Italia.

I paid 10€ for a TIM card in September. That was to get the phone activated with Italian phone number and included 5€ of talk time. You could add more time if you wanted (my travel companion put an extra 20€ on her phone). The fees were higher if you used it in the first 24 hours after activation. There was always a connect fee which I think may have been .50 the first 24 hours and about that per minute. After the first 24 hours it seems it was .20 to connect and .20 a minute.

equitraveler Apr 3rd, 2012 12:43 PM

There are several phone companies in Italy, the biggies being TIM, Vodaphone, and Wind. The best bet is to get a SIM that you can put money on. I do not recommend linking to your credit card. If you lose your phone, you could be liable for endless charges until you cancel your credit card. I have a WIND SIM. I load it with euros, either at a tabacchi or via the internet, and then make calls or txt (which is way cheaper!!) Wind works all over Europe, and in some other countries (e.g., Australia, but not Turkey). If you have an unlocked phone you can buy a SIM wherever you are. Another approach, if you are traveling with an iPad or laptop is to set up a Skype account with a phone number. You have to have internet access, but the phone charges are very inexpensive.

jent103 Apr 3rd, 2012 01:10 PM

<i>I have the i phone 4s through verizon. I went to the local store and they told me that I can not unlock the phone.</i>

You don't need to unlock it if all you want to do is place a phone call or text or two. The 4S is GSM and CDMA-capable, so you just need to call Verizon and have them activate the international plan(s) (your data will work over there too, but will be an additional fee). I just did this for a trip to Paris. I was able to call people in France ($0.99/minute), text people at home ($0.50 to send, $0.05 to receive), and use it for data when I really wanted to. I also used it in our hotel with the wifi. All of it easy as pie.

If you want to be able to call/text each other frequently while you're in Italy, though, that's probably not the most cost-efficient option. In that case you would want to either pursue unlocking your phones yourselves, get an unlocked phone off eBay and get SIM cards when you get there, or just wait and get phones and cards when you get there. With any of those options you won't really be able to test it out till you're actually there.

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