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Advice on Prepaid SIM Card in Italy

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Manila
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Advice on Prepaid SIM Card in Italy

Hi,

We are travelling around Italy for 9 days and 3 days in France. Hope someone can help advice of SIM cards:-

1) We have Iphone 5 and Samsung Note 2 (all GSM unlock);

2) Requirement:- Voice call (maybe 3-4 calls per day) and data (500mb for the whole trip will suffice)

Which service provider has the best offer which suits our needs and use without much fuss (like password or APN and etc).

Thanks in advance.

Le Marche, Italy
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1. Re: Advice on Prepaid SIM Card in Italy

In early November, there will be major changes in the data plan polices of TIM, Italy's largest cell phone provider. I've seen advance notices of these changes, but I wouldn't want to say anything until the time comes and I see the fine print. If you'll post a response to this topic sometime around the 10th of November, I'll get an update and try to answer with whatever I've learned.

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2. Re: Advice on Prepaid SIM Card in Italy

You might want to look for a recent thread about one person's experience with Vodafone vs TIM. I've been traveling with a person who bought SIM cards with Vodafone and had a problem with setup and service in 3 different countries. In Italy, it took more than 3 days for his service to start working.

TAB

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3. Re: Advice on Prepaid SIM Card in Italy

Hi,

Any update on the new TIM plan? I had previously thought I could use the TIM Smartphone 4G, Estero and Viaggio for voice, text and data in Italy and also Switzerland and France. Is it different now?

4. Re: Advice on Prepaid SIM Card in Italy

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Le Marche, Italy
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5. Re: Advice on Prepaid SIM Card in Italy

I have just got a new TIM plan myself, because the old TIM x Smartphone plan has been discontinued. The plan I got is the cheapest available with internet included, and is called TIM Special Full Small. It has 200 minutes of talk time, 200 text messages, and 1 gb of internet per month, for €10 a month. I suspect that the price is going up to €15 on December 1st. There are more expensive plans, but they just have more talk time and more texts, but no additional internet traffic. You can add an "Internet extra" option to any of the plans, which gives you an extra gb of internet traffic for €5 per month.

Also, you can add the "Internet 4G plus" option, for €5 per month for the first three months, €10 euros per month thereafter.

For a visitor to Italy, the main problem is that there is a €19 activation charge. I'm not 100% sure that this charge includes the purchase of the SIM card, because their web site assumes you already have a SIM card and are either switching to TIM or just changing plan. If you get the "Internet extra" and the 4G, you'll probably pay about €39 for the whole package, and you may pay more for the SIM card.

Since you're from Singapore, you might want to ask for a TIM International New SIM card. It doesn't cost any more than the regular SIM card, and would allow you to call Singapore for 20 cents a minute, with a 16-cent connection charge. (This same rate applies to calls to all of Western Europe, Canada, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand, and many other countries. There are even cheaper rates to some other countries, such as 1 cent a minute to India, Bangladesh, and China.)

There is a new plan for using your Italian phone outside of Italy. It's called TIM in Viaggio Full. It can be activated free, and it allows you to make calls between European countries and the USA for 16 cents a minute, plus a 16-cent connection charge. This is almost the same as the cost for calls within Italy, so there's no reason to buy a new SIM card if you'll be visiting other European countries. It also gives you 25 mb of internet traffic per day for €3, charged only on the days you actually use the internet. This would be the equivalent of 750 mb per month, or about 75% of what the cheapest Italian plan gives you in Italy. To be sure you don't exceed your limits, I would turn on data services only when you need them and try to use wifi wherever it's available.

For a visitor to Rome, the main problem is that there is a €19 activation charge. I'm not 100% sure that this charge includes the purchase of the SIM card, because their web site assumes you already have a SIM card and are either switching to TIM or just changing plan.

Since you're from Singapore, you might want to ask for a TIM International New SIM card. It doesn't cost any more than the regular SIM card, and would allow you to call Singapore for 20 cents a minute, with a 16-cent connection charge. (This same rate applies to calls to all of Western Europe, Canada, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand, and many other countries. There are even cheaper rates to some other countries, such as 1 cent a minute to India, Bangladesh, and China.)

There is a new plan for using your Italian phone outside of Italy. It's called TIM in Viaggio Full. It can be activated free, and it allows you to make calls between European countries and the USA for 16 cents a minute, plus a 16-cent connection charge. This is almost the same as the cost for calls within Italy, so there's no reason to buy a new SIM card if you'll be visiting other European countries. It also gives you 25 mb of internet traffic per day for €3, charged only on the days you actually use the internet. This would be the equivalent of 750 mb per month, or about 75% of what the cheapest Italian plan gives you in Italy. To be sure you don't exceed your limits, I would turn on data services only when you need them and try to use wifi wherever it's available. I don't think there is any plan includes 4G outside of Italy.

I remember reading somewhere that TIM in Viaggio was activated automatically for new customers, but I don't know if that included the internet, so I would ask for "TIM in Viaggio Full" specifically, just to make sure.

Charlotte, North...
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6. Re: Advice on Prepaid SIM Card in Italy

Since you will be in multiple countries with multiple devices, check out a mobile internet device from renters like tepwireless.com ... I used a single unit in Italy last May for my smartphone, iPad and notebook which functioned problem free. Current rates run about $64 for 10 days for a Europe-wide plan ... enjoy!

Edited: 22 November 2013, 18:11
Le Marche, Italy
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7. Re: Advice on Prepaid SIM Card in Italy

The TEP is a mobile internet hotspot. Its cost is more than twice cost of the basic plan I mentioned above, even if you add the setup cost, the extra gb of internet and the supplement for 4G. If you need to buy an Italian SIM card anyway to make phone calls, it wouldn't make any sense to use the TEP device, because the basic calling plan mentioned above costs the same whether or not you include the internet.

TIM also has a premium plan which includes unlimited calls and text within Italy, plus for each month 3 gb of 4G internet in Italy plus 500 minutes of call time, 500 text messages, and 500 mb of internet throughout Europe and the USA. This is €50 a month, so it's still cheaper than the TEP plan cost for internet alone. I didn't mention it above because I thought it was too expensive.

One thing I should have mentioned in my earlier response is that if you'll be using the internet outside of Italy, you should make sure the SIM card has enough credit to pay for the days of internet usage before you leave Italy, because it's almost impossible to top up the credit from outside Italy.

Charlotte, North...
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8. Re: Advice on Prepaid SIM Card in Italy

... bv ... don't you need a SIM card for each device? ... does an Italian card/plan work in France? ... for calling, I use Skype via wifi which is $.016/minute ... the rental is only other thing I pay for and that is for up to 5 devices and covers all of Italy/Europe ... the best part is simple ... I like simple ...

Le Marche, Italy
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9. Re: Advice on Prepaid SIM Card in Italy

Since you can use the phone to tether other devices, you don't need separate SIM cards for other devices. The phone itself is a mobile wifi hotspot.

An Italian SIM card works in France. I've used my Italian phone in many European countries, including France, and I regularly use it in the US as well. In fact, I don't understand why these mobile internet devices need to have different models for different regions. It's one of the things that kept me from buying one several years ago. Now I use my phone for tethering and wouldn't consider getting a Mifi-type device.

Edited: 22 November 2013, 22:08
Charlotte, North...
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10. Re: Advice on Prepaid SIM Card in Italy

... sounds great bv ... I'll update the state of the art before my trip next June ...