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progol Feb 25th, 2016 04:23 AM

Using verizon international data plan?
We have Verizon Wireless and we each have an iPhone 5 and we are considering using the international data plan for our upcoming 2-week trip to Sicily. It looks like it costs $40/phone, which includes 100mb data. Will this be enough for our needs?

In our last 2 trips, we got SIM cards -- overall, that worked well and was less certainly less expensive than the above, but we found it difficult when we got messages from the company in the native language and had no idea what was going on (were we running out of time? what else is being communicated). We also had an awful time using our phones after the SIM card was removed -- there was some app that was switched on or off that interfered with our phone use upon return that even Verizon techs couldn't figure out. So we'd like to keep it simple, if possible.

So for this trip, we are considering just paying the extra few dollars to get the international plan, probably for both phones. My questions are what are the added costs, AND, most important, would the 100mb cover our use of Google maps? If it's more than adequate, we might only get the plan for 1 phone, but would do both if necessary. We find the Google maps app especially helpful and that would be the primary data use. We also travel with an iPad but depend on the WiFi for any research or emails. We don't expect to text much - the only calls would be to accommodations prior to arrival and maybe 1-2 international calls (but not more than that).

And no, we are not switching to any other plan at this point. I'm aware of T-mobile but we aren't going to change from Verizon wireless at this point.

Many thanks in advance!

bvlenci Feb 25th, 2016 04:34 AM

100 mb is very little. You could run through that uploading one photo to Facebook. However, Google Maps lets you download area maps in advance when you have wifi, and then you can use them when you don't have any internet connection. (The GPS satellite connection doesn't use data services.) This wouldn't give you turn-by-turn directions, but it would let you see where you are and show you a walking route to get to your destination. It would also show you a driving route, but without the voice directions, you'd need a human navigator to tell you where to turn.

If you can do all the other stuff on wifi, 100 mb should be enough for the occasional light use of data services. To avoid downloading things in background, keep the phone's data services turned off unless you really need them.

greg Feb 25th, 2016 08:04 AM

No one can answer the data usage. That is specific only to you. Use data usage feature/app on your phone to get an empirical result. That is YOUR data usage pattern, not someone else's.

Many people confuse using t-mobile as switching a plan. It is totally not necessary to switch a plan.

If you are comfortable using an Italian SIM card during the trip while you have Verizon plan, you should be just as well comfortable using a t-mobile USA SIM card only during the trip while you retain your Verizon plan. Cancel t-mobile USA as soon as you come home.

hetismij2 Feb 25th, 2016 08:20 AM

If you want turn by turn navigation download the Here app. Then download the maps you need before you leave home.

100mb is not a lot. Is that the total you are allowed or is that per day or per week?

I get 100mb European roaming per week on my Dutch phone, and I get through it in a couple of days if I am not very careful. It is enough to check mail, but not to download attachments or view image heavy sites such as new sites.

Robert2533 Feb 25th, 2016 10:04 AM

Simply put, the Verizon international data plan has nothing to compare with T-Mobile's free unlimited data/messaging service.

And as noted, 100mb is nothing to write home about, in fact, a few emails could easily eat up your 100mb limit if you include any photos in the email, if not in a WiFi hotspot.

progol Feb 25th, 2016 03:49 PM

Thanks for the feedback -- I think you've all answered my question about 100mb. The one use we have and like is the GPS in Google maps, and that seems to need more than 100mb. I think that's what you are all saying, am I right?mthat is what the plan offers for $40 base. I'm not sure how much extra is. It would be for 2 weeks.

Again, we are not using it for Facebook,or email or more heavy website use. We will have our iPad and upload when we have a wifi connection.mits the GPS that we really do use when driving and it sounds like 100 mb is not enough.

Andrew Feb 25th, 2016 04:08 PM

You don't need mobile data for GPS. Even Google Maps now lets you download a section of maps ahead of time (e.g. with WiFi). Google Maps can still give you turn-by-turn directions while driving without mobile data. You can try it yourself now before you leave for Europe (I have). Turn off mobile data and try to navigate somewhere by car. (Get directions first while on WiFi, and/or download a section of Google Maps near you ahead of time.)

I suggest installing Google Hangouts Dialer on your phone so you can make free phone calls home (even to landlines) while on WiFi, so you won't have to use any Verizon minutes to call someone at home. You can make international calls too with Hangouts Dialer but not free, and you may have to buy a block of credit from Google ($10 blocks like Skype?) to do so.

I also suggest you try to understand why your phones had trouble with Verizon once you got home after using a foreign SIM. I suspect it has something to do with using CDMA (Verizon USA) instead of GSM (Europe). I know how to change that setting in my Android to roam on GSM and back to CDMA, but I wouldn't know how to do it on an iPhone. Sounds to me that if you could figure that out, buying a local SIM might still be your best choice, given that you have done it before.

progol Feb 25th, 2016 05:01 PM

Thanks, Andrew, the info on Google maps is interesting and we will definitely try it out. You're making some excellent suggestions -- I'm still trying to understand all of them but I'm intrigued by the ideas.

I managed to figure out the settings last year -- even Verizon had no idea, and we spent many hours on the phone with them-- but I'm not sure which setting it is now. I hope I don't have the same problem but at least I know I managed to stumble upon so if we have problems again, I'll have somewhere to start!

Andrew Feb 25th, 2016 09:27 PM

I would be curious to know if you will have similar problems switching your phones back to work in the US when you get back from this trip, even if you stick with Verizon's international data plan. Because Verizon does not have service in Europe - they use CDMA technology in the US and Europe uses GSM, so you will have to roam on a GSM network (on a Verizon partner over there), maybe on one of the same networks you might use were you to buy a local SIM again. You'll have to switch back to CDMA when you get home. Maybe this is the problem you had last time?

Either way, not the end of the world if you go with Verizon's plan this time and it isn't enough data or something - you'll live, and you'd still have the option to buy a local SIM if 100MB isn't enough data.

progol Feb 26th, 2016 03:02 AM

I wish that I wrote down what the setting was that got changed, but I've no doubt that it had to do with the SIM card that we received in Spain last year. Is it possible that it had to do with the VPN setting? Just not sure now...

DH wants to use the international plan - our biggest frustration with SIM cards is simply not understanding what the frequent texts say that are sent from the carrier, and not knowing what to do about them.

hetismij2 Feb 26th, 2016 03:57 AM

Couldn't you use a translation app to understand the texts? Use one phone to translate the message on the other. There are apps that use the camera and translate the text to save you having to type it in. You can even download the appropriate dictionary before you leave home so you don't waste data.

progol Feb 27th, 2016 04:01 AM

The translation app is an excellent idea, but I think DH is more inclined to keep it simple and pay for the use of Verizon's travel plan and absorb it as the overall cost of the trip.

Robert, we aren't ready to switch over to T-mobile, but it's an idea we're considering for the future. Right now our travels are limited, but when I retire and we hope to travel more, it may be worth our while to switch. For now, we're not, convenient though it may be for travel.

GinnyJo Feb 27th, 2016 04:48 AM

I agree that 100mg is very little, even if you plan to use wifi whenever possible. Verizon also has a $50 plan which provides 250mg of data (no voice or text minutes, but text is inexpensive).

Note too that the 'month' will be your billing cycle, not necessarily a calendar month. Given how your travel dates fall compared to your billing cycle, you might have prorated amounts in two billing cycles.

I have experienced 'misunderstandings' in the past with dealing with Verizon's global service, so now my only communication with them is via chatting online, and I save all the chats so there is no misunderstanding when the bill comes.

progol Feb 27th, 2016 06:01 AM

Great suggestion about using online chatting vs. speaking to an agent! I will definitely do the same -- especially since it is often so difficult to get someone on the phone.

I'll need to do some more research before making a decision....

colonna Feb 27th, 2016 07:41 AM

I have the Verizon $40 plan and have been using it for the last 2 months in France and Italy.

One thing that really threw me is that I have NO voicemail service at all. I can't get into my voicemail, and I can't see if there were any calls. A Verizon person tried various things to get rid of the red dot that means "no service"-- then said, "Oh, voicemail is not available overseas at this time." So that might be a dealbreaker.

Or that Verizon person might not have known what he was talking about.

hetismij2 Feb 27th, 2016 07:52 AM

Checking voicemail while abroad is generally very expensive, since, though you may not realise it, it involves you making an international call back to your home country, then listening to however many messages you have, which may be why Verizon have switched it off.

colonna Feb 27th, 2016 08:22 AM

That makes sense, hetismij2, but I wish I had the option. Or at least that Verizon had made it clear when I signed up.

Andrew Feb 27th, 2016 08:42 AM

I suggested Google Hangouts above to make free phone calls back to the US (even to landlines; the person receiving the calls does not need Google Hangouts to get your call). It's a VOIP service like Skype, so it uses WiFi or mobile data. You can use this with or without the Verizon international plan.

If you DON'T use the Verizon international plan, you might also get a Google Voice US phone number before leaving the US (assuming the OP is in the US - Google Voice as I understand it is still only available to Americans). You can use Google Voice as an app within the US only, but it gives you a US phone number (and voicemail) that you can use overseas with Google Hangouts. So if you have a Google Voice number and call the US from Europe with Google Hangouts, the caller sees your Google Voice number. You can set Google Hangouts to receive calls on this US number as well.

So - you could forward your Verizon calls to your Google Voice number before leaving the US. Then you could answer the forwarded calls with Google Hangouts, and missed calls would go to your Google voicemail. If you return the call with Google Hangouts, the other person would see your Google number, though, not your original Verizon number.

You can try all of this now before you leave for Europe to see how it works. If you already have a Google account, it's easy to get a Google Voice phone number - just an add-on to your Google account. You might not be able to find a new available number in your area code, though, but it probably doesn't matter anymore. The trickiest part might be turning call forwarding from Verizon on and off. On my old T-Mobile flip phone I could turn call forwarding on and off on the phone itself - maybe you do it the same way with Verizon, not sure.

Robert2533 Feb 27th, 2016 10:25 AM

"Checking voicemail while abroad is generally very expensive"

When having to deal with missed calls and voicemail, if using T-Mobile and the iPhone 6, 6s, or one of Samsung's latest in its lineup, you're able to check voicemail when in a WiFi zone at no cost.

Andrew Feb 27th, 2016 10:43 AM

The OP isn't switching to T-Mobile. Give it up.

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