Prepaid SIM Cards in Italy

Old Oct 17th, 2007, 05:49 AM
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Prepaid SIM Cards in Italy

My son and I are traveling to Italy (Rome, Florence, and Venice) and both have AT&T quad-band phones. We need to be able to call each other while we are in Italy. AT&T's international roaming plan would cost us each $.99 per minute.

We have unlock codes for both phones. I have heard that you can buy a prepaid SIM card from the TIM network that will work in our phones. Does anyone have a suggestion as to where to purchase this card once we arrive in Rome?
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Old Oct 17th, 2007, 05:59 AM
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There is a TIM store on via del Corso and Piazza Colonna where you can make this purchase.

Buon Viaggio,
BC
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Old Oct 17th, 2007, 01:53 PM
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You can purchase a TIM sim card for 10 euro at Terminal A at FCO airport or on the 2nd floor at Termini station
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 09:42 AM
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On that same line, when we were in Ireland, we were able to rent a cell phone with prepaid minutes for a reasonable price...anything like that in Rome?
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 09:48 AM
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I'll be interested in what are the current charges for a pre-paid SIM (i.e., cost per minute) in Italy. I was surprised that buying a Mobicarte SIM from France Telecom gave me no better rate than about 0,60 euro per minute - - about 0.84 USD per minute. My sister-in-law used her AT&T phone at 0.99 per minute; my "savings" (of 0.15 USD per minute) hardly merited a description of "brilliant"!

But maybe the rate on a TIM pre-paid SIM is better; I did hear that France rates were among the highest in Europe.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 12:14 PM
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A United Mobile + sim costs 29.90 euros and includes 10 euros calling credit. Incoming calls in Italy are free, outgoing calls to the US cost 0.29 euros/minute. To keep the sim active you have to make a call or buy additional minutes once every nine months. The cost and rates for the Passport sim sold by Telestial are similar. My wife and I used these sims on our last trip to Italy because we wanted to have phone numbers before we left. An Italian sim is cheaper, but I think international sims are more convenient.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 01:41 PM
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One note about the "myth" that incoming calls are free. It's true, there are no costs (minutes) deducted form the credits purchased with/for the SIM - - that's because the costs are charged to the caller.

So, if you are calling your own home... to have them call you back... (or even "burdening" a friend by having them call you) - - you'll still pay the same as if the call was not free - - it will just be on your home phone bill, for having placed the call to your cell phone in Europe.

And one cell calling another? The caller will pay double, the receiver won't use any minutes. But if you're the owner of both SIMs (as in... you and your son, calling from one phone to the other while you are separated), then there's nothing free about such a call.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 02:09 PM
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>And one cell calling another?
What about SIMs that allow you to call other SIMs issued by the same phone company for free, or 1ct. Doesn't sound to expensive imho.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 04:34 PM
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<< What about SIMs that allow you to call other SIMs issued by the same phone company for free, or 1ct. >>

Didn't/don't know anything about the existnewce of such deals. Not from France Telecom, as far as I know.

If you have details, I'm sure that others would appreciate your sharing links to expand on this.

Not disputing you... I just don't know.
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 05:30 PM
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For italy, try www.tre.it. (free internal calls for one month after you buy the card and each recharge but it's WCDMA) For Germany www.smobil.de (1ct) and more at 4ct or 5ct. But there are many more offers, just check the italian/german providers. Just recently a 9€ card at www.tchibo.de came with free on net calls for 2 years limited to 2hrs talking time per call. Great battery tester .
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Old Oct 18th, 2007, 07:29 PM
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rex...

I'm a little confused what you're saying but let me try to explain...

European gsm carriers basically operate on a principle caller pays...thus locally if you live in Britain and call a friend on his or her mobile from your landline, you pay a higher rate than if you call another landline.

It is a bit different in North America. First of all, from the phone number alone, you cannot tell you are calling a cell phone (or a pager, fax machine or whatever)...cell phone numbers in the USA and Canada look like landline numbers with an area code...for a while NYC tried to segregate cell phones into their own area code (917) but the FCC ruled the practice illegal so now a 917 number in NYC might be a cell number or might be a landline.

When you buy a local sim card say in the UK or in Italy, you don't pay out of your minutes or the time on your pay as you go plan to receive calls, the caller pays a higher rate....this higher rate includes the regular rate to call from say the USA to Italy plus a surcharge called a termination fee...I'm most familiar with the UK...you check long distance rates on US carriers to call the UK and you will see rates such as 9/minute but to a mobile phone in the UK, a 21 termination fee so a friend calling you will pay 29 or 30 cents a minute to call a UK mobile but you still pay nothing...of course it depends on what your gsm carrier in Europe charges as to how much you pay to call the USA...with some of the UK carriers you can call from the UK to the USA on a mobile phone for as little as 3p/minute.

The problem, though, came to a head with some of the international cards which preach free reception of calls throughout Europe. The best for a long time was United Mobile locate din Liechtenstein; they were very stable and very good....what happened though to mess up the experience was long distance carriers in the USA and other countries raised the termination fees to call Liechtenstein mobiles to absurd heights..this is also true of calls to some of the other international sim cards located in Estonia and Iceland. There were ways to cut these fees a bit using callback services such as enlinea or callbackworld but the quality of the calls suffered.

The latest rage in international sim cards is to use phone companies on the Isle of Man and in Jersey, both technically having UK numbers (in other words country code 44)...they were okay, the termination fees were not the excessive ones to call Liechtenstein, Iceland and Estonia. As a matter of fact, United Mobile for that reason moved its operation from Liechtenstein (country code 423) to Jersey (country code 44)...they rushed the product out because the absurd termination fees to Liechtenstein were killing their product and time will tell how sucessful they will be.

A whole bunch of other providers were using the Isle of Man using a telcom called callkey to actually direct traffic. About two weeks ago, callkey went under and at the present writing, service has been suspended on thse Isle of Man cards leaving those relying on them high and dry. The Estonian and Iceland carriers still work but with the high termination fees. (Passport on telestial is an Estonian rebrand with a few little perks including the ability to call a US toll free number and have the call forwarded)...

Now...to complicat ematters even further, the eu has butted in much to the chagrin of many of the European telcomes such as vodafone, T Mobile and others which were making a mint on absurdly high roaming fees on intra European calls. Vodafone, in particular, has bitterly assailed this regulation of their roaming business claiming the prices would come down on their own and they had tried with some innoventions such as Vodafone Passport but the new Eurotariffs are in place...something lie €0,39/minute to call within the eu (at least to the home country of the sim card and within the country where you are located) and €0,24/minute to receive calls...I think using my T Mobile UK card with its 3p/minute calls from the UK to the USA, 15p/minute to call within the UK even to other mobiles and the euro tariffs (charge in sterling rather than euro) might be the best direction to go right now but that's because I spend a good deal of time in London...our friend logos knows a great deal more than I know about using German sim cards (although the only German sim card I have is from Vodafone.de which at least has the "good sense" to allow me to set all the menu prompts and voice mail prompts to English, most of the other German carriers don't (not that they have an obligation to do so of course) and I have found it impossible to read the wonderful links that have been provided to German web sites.

Now if you've followed this rambling post, more power to you. The bottom line is things change almost hourly and perhaps the best place to go for information is not here as so much misinformation is thrown out but rather a mobile phone forum such as the excellent one at www.prepaidgsm.net. The moderator there is Italian and there is quite an international crowd making suggestions as to just what might be the best way to go...there is also an operators section on the web site with various national operators and their rates and links to their web sites.

But one suspects, unfortunately, that a good suggtestion today (such as the one I used to give regarding United Mobile and its +423 operation with callbackworld) will become a horror tomorrow (see all the poor suckers who relied on the Isle of Man sim cards and right now are up the creek without a paddle or at least without a mobile provider)....
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Old Oct 19th, 2007, 03:52 AM
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Go to E-Bay. Type in Italy SIMS Card. You can purchase the card prior to your visit and can go to any local TIM store in Italy to buy more time. The advantage to this is that you will have your "Italian" phone number prior to your trip. It's easy - it works.
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Old Oct 19th, 2007, 03:57 AM
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one SIM (= Subscriber Identity Module)
two "SIMs" ;-)
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Old Oct 19th, 2007, 04:58 PM
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My experience with the Italy SIM card. I had an unlocked phone ready to go before I left for Italy. Also decided to get a phone from Mobal Communications "just in case". I did not get my SIM card at the airport or at a major train station first - BIG MISTAKE! When you don't speak Italian it can be a hassle and after 3 or 4 days of the phone not working after I bought the SIM card, I found out that since I was a "foreigner" it took longer. I figured they were making that up and they just hadn't completed my transaction. This proved to be the case when I bought a SIM card and "Air card" for my laptop. Anyone have a similar experience re: taking a long time to have it activiated? Also, for recharging, it was difficult to find anything less than a 30 or 50 euro recharge card. I didn't realize that there was an English only option when calling to recharge at first. In any event, the phone did work but I was glad I had my backup from Mobal. Mobal's worked flawlessly. It was expensive (phone was $49 or $99) and calls were 1.29/min but it never failed me.
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Old Oct 19th, 2007, 05:26 PM
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xyz, Arrgghhhh! Even though you've given me lots of good information on previous threads, I still haven't gotten around to buying a cell phone. Maybe this is why! Actually, I was all set to get the T-mobile one that I could use both here and in Italy, but they won't sell it to me online because I don't have T-mobile service in my area. I can buy one somewhere else at one of their stores, because roaming is free, but I don't get the free phone offered on wirefly.com. I was still thinking this was the best way to go (buy one outside my area).

I'm really not dense about this sort of thing, but if I can bother you one more time, is the T-mobile still my best bet? (I will use it locally in the US on a very limited basis - rural area, lots of dead spots.) Or should I get one phone locally with a service I can get in my area and a separate one for Italy from Telestial?

Once again, I appreciate your help!
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Old Oct 19th, 2007, 05:43 PM
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On this trip to Italy, because we have learned that the apartments do not have internet access and we have 9 people showing up, I got a Mobal cellphone and will have my "skype on a stick" things I made. So the plan is for folks, in an emergency, to call on the Mobal and then we will call back on Skype from an internet cafe. That way we only get whacked on the Mobal rate for maybe a minute and can talk all we want through Skype at 2 cents per minute.

With my SkypeIn number, folks can call my "local" US number, leave a message on the voice mail and I'll get it the next time I log in with Skype. I'll let everyone know how this system works on our return.

Yeah, I know, I'll do anything to save a couple of bucks, no matter how confusing it gets. Ha Ha.

dave
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Old Oct 20th, 2007, 04:25 AM
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hklinker - I'd suggest checking the coverage charts for your home region. If you can get adequate service from T Mobile or AT&T, you can buy a prepaid plan for service from T Moble or AT&T for use in the US and an unlocked gsm phone on the internet. The phone will work in both Europe and the US if it operates on the frequencies 900, 1800, and 1900 (for T Mobile) and 850, 900, 1800, and 1900 (for AT&T). You can then buy an international sim from Telestial or from one of the plans listed on
www.prepaidgsm.net/en/international.html,
or, if you like, you can buy a local sim in Europe when you get there. If coverage from T Mobile and AT&T is inadequate in your region, try Verizon or Sprint. Their phones will not work in Europe, and you'll have to buy an additional phone for use abroad. Motorola sells unlocked phones at its web site, and you can also get new phones at MyWorldPhone.com and TigerDirect.com. Another possibility is Telestial, as noted in your message.
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Old Oct 20th, 2007, 04:53 AM
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I forgot to add that my wife and I use used cell phones we bought from http://stores.ebay.com/JUSTUSEDPHONE
I had trouble with the battery covers on a few of them, and the store took them back without questioning me and credited my charge card.
Also, phone ratings from users can be found at
www.phonescoop.com/phones

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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 05:07 AM
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I didn't think this would prove to be so confusing. Thanks to everyone who posted a reply.

We are flying in to FCO and driving to Florence. Since the bulk of the calling will be between my son and I (and a few calls to home) the comments about the caller paying for both on cell-to-cell calls cuts the savings in half. Good info!

AT&T charges $.99 per minute each, so a 2 min. call between us would be $3.96 plus tax. I don't know what the per minute rates for a prepaid card from TIM would be, so it's hard to calculate a break-even point.

What we are going to do is sign up for the AT&T plan as "Plan B". If we get to FCO and find that the prepaid card from TIM is too pricey, we'll stick with the US card.

Any other suggestions??
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 05:55 AM
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Trust me...you won't find the TIM prepaid package very expensive...€10 for the sim card with €5 included and if you buy 2, calls between them only the caller pays while in Italy.
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