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BEST MIFI for Italy 6+ weeks

Gardnerville, Nevada
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BEST MIFI for Italy 6+ weeks

We will be spending 6+ weeks in Italy beginning the end of April. We have 2 iPhones, an iPad and MacBook Air. We would like to have easy but reasonable access for at least the iPad and Air while in the country. I have a MAC airporter router which has worked great when I can attach to an internet dsl cable but need something like mifi for this trip. Any suggestions? THANKS!

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Le Marche, Italy
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1. Re: BEST MIFI for Italy 6+ weeks

If at least one of your iPhones is a GSM (AT&T) phone and is either unlocked or can be unlocked for the trip, your best solution would be to use it as a personal wifi hotspot to tether the other devices. To do this, you would buy an Italian SIM card, and get a data plan that has sufficient data to allow you to tether other devices. My provider, TIM, has a plan that is adequate for a reasonable amount of tethering for 6 euros a week. The SIM card costs 10 euros, so the total cost for six weeks would be 46 euros. I don't think you can get a mifi device that cheaply.

I have been considering the purchase of a mifi unit, but haven't yet decided which one I would buy, or even if it makes sense to buy one. It might be cheaper to buy a cheap Android phone and use it for tethering. My husband tethers his wifi-only tablet to his Android phone, and has had no problems with it. My own data plan isn't adequate for tethering, so I haven't tried it. I've seen cheap Android phones for little more than $100, so this might be the best option if you can't unlock one of your iPhones. It would have the advantage of also giving you a phone to use while you're in Italy (and also in the US with a prepaid plan). I think you need at least Android 2.4 to tether, but almost all Android phones being sold now are at least at 4.0.

Santa Monica...
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2. Re: BEST MIFI for Italy 6+ weeks

Ctalan,

What did you end up doing for cell/internet on your trip? I'm going to Italy for 2 weeks in June & am looking for some insight. I really like the Mifi device, as you can connect multiple devices & make phone calls over Skype or FaceTime.

It's in Italian, but this seems to be the best deal:

internet.vodafone.it/chiavetta-internet-wifi/

From what I understand (through google translation), you can buy a mifi device & 7GB worth of high-speed service for around €100.

Le Marche, Italy
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3. Re: BEST MIFI for Italy 6+ weeks

All the devices on that page require a contract. On this page, the R205 and R208 Mobile wifi devices can be bought without a contract:

http://eshop.vodafone.it/internet-key

I was thinking of getting a mifi device myself, but now that you can use a phone to tether other devices, I don't think it makes sense any more. You can get a cheap unlocked Android phone for about the same price, or even less. If you put an Italian SIM card in it and get a data plan that allows tethering, you basically have a mifi device AND a phone. I don't know about Vodafone's data plans, but a TIM plan that would allow tethering costs 6 euros a week, for 500 mb of 4G data. You can find a cheap unlocked GSM Android phone on eBay or Amazon. I've seen some for as little as $84. The version of Android has to be at least 2.2, but I don't think they're even selling phones with Android versions lower than that any more.

My husband and I each have a 7-inch tablet that's wifi only. On our next trip, to England and Scotland, I'm going to take an older-model Android phone and buy a UK SIM card and data plan and use that as our mifi device. I also have a USB modem that would work, but for one device at a time. However, the phone will allow me also to make local calls.

Gardnerville, Nevada
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4. Re: BEST MIFI for Italy 6+ weeks

We did 2 things. Bought TIM SIM card for unlocked iPhone to use as GPS and a few phone calls. Also purchased a TIM wifi stick for my MacBook Air. Together were about $100 on a special deal in Venice for 7 weeks. We may have to purchase more time for the iPhone but it is not expensive. Working great. We are in Sicily now and no problems.

Santa Monica...
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5. Re: BEST MIFI for Italy 6+ weeks

Thank you ctalan & bvlenci! It seems like you have to wait until you actually get to Italy to purchase anything. I think we're going to go with the Mifi & whatever deal they have at the time. It seems like TIM & Vodafone are the best carriers.

Ctalan, when you get the chance, would you mind sharing how the TIM reception & data speed are?

Grazie!

Gardnerville, Nevada
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6. Re: BEST MIFI for Italy 6+ weeks

TIM has been great and we have driven all over Italy and Sicily. No problems with service anywhere. Biggest problem is starting with a store where someone speaks English. But, if you are in a large city, should be no problem. We even found both TIM clerks in Reggio d Calabria speak enough English to get by. They have been so helpful.

If you have an iPhone 4 or higher it can be used to tether other devices. I am glad I did not buy a MIFI as we have not needed it and the service has been good and for 7 weeks very reasonable. We also use our iPhone for SKYPE calls as well as my MacBook Air with the TIM internet stick. Isn't technology marvelous, when it works!!

Melrose...
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7. Re: BEST MIFI for Italy 6+ weeks

Hi ctalan

I am going to Sicily in August for work and vacation... I need a sim card for an iphone 4 that I can use to tether my macbook. What product did you purchase from TIM?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Edited: 10 July 2013, 19:23
Le Marche, Italy
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8. Re: BEST MIFI for Italy 6+ weeks

If you want to use your iPhone for tethering, you need to buy a more expensive data plan than the basic TIM x Smartphone, which specifically forbids tethering. The TIM x Smartphone 4G at 6 euros a week, for 500 mb, should work, although I'm not sure the 500 mb would be enough for a laptop. It would probably be enough for a tablet, unless you use it for streaming video.

If you have a laptop that you want to connect to the internet using the cellular network, you should get a USB modem, and a SIM card and data plan for that. The modems cost about 30-40 euros, and there are data plans ranging from about 9 euros a month to 25 euros a month, depending on how much data you think you'll need.

Gardnerville, Nevada
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9. Re: BEST MIFI for Italy 6+ weeks

I paid $50 for 2 months of an Internet stick for my MacBook Air and still had data time left at the end of our 7 weeks. It worked to run my husband's and my sister in 's i Pads as a hotspot. l thought it was a great deal. Lots of TIM stores in Sicily. We did also put a TIM SIM card in one iPhone and mostly used that for GPS.

New Hampshire
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10. Re: BEST MIFI for Italy 6+ weeks

Very helpful thread so far. We're headed to Tuscany, Liguria and Como/Milan for 10 days at the end of September and hoping to tether my wifi iPad to husband's iPhone 4. (It does not do 4G.) We fly into Florence on a Friday afternoon and will plan to stop to pick up a TIM SIM at at TIM store near the airport on our way to Chianti. We plan to use the phone for data and possibly GPS/map apps more than phone calls. Any thoughts about which specific TIM plan would be recommended for this? Thanks for whatever advice you can offer.

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