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Prepaid SIMS for Italy?

Discussion in 'International Wireless Forum (Including Canada and' started by SteveW, Apr 14, 2006.

  1. SteveW

    SteveW Battery mgmt is my life
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    I have an unloked Nokia 6200. The 6200 is tri band 850/1800/1900. I am traveling to Italy in the next few days and may want to get a pre-paid SIM.

    Is there any particular provider I should use or avoid?

    Anyone know what in-country calls or calls to the US should cost?

    For calls to the US is it best to buy an international callling card and dial a local number on the cell first - like we would do here?

    I have looked at http://www.prepaidgsm.net but there are still a lot of options.

    Thanks!

    SteveW
     
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  2. ShoresGuy

    ShoresGuy Euer WA Experte in Europa
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    Post in the prepaidgsm.net forum if you haven't done so yet. You'll get a few more answers there. Some people over there have used callback services like Enlinea or Callbackworld in conjunction with an Italian/European SIM card.

    http://www.prepaidgsm.net/forum
     
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  3. SteveW

    SteveW Battery mgmt is my life
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    Will do. Thanks.

    SteveW
     
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  4. SteveW

    SteveW Battery mgmt is my life
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    Thanks to info and helpful advice on this forum I successfully unlocked my Nokia 6200 and picked up a Wind prepaid SIM card while traveling in Italy last week. This gave me an Italian phone that came in quite handy.

    Bottom line: you can turn your unlocked GSM phone into an Italian phone ready to call the US for an initial investment of €15. I had good coverage from this provider, in all but the most remote villages. All in all, a pretty satisfying experience.

    A few details:

    - The pointer found in the above FAQ to the prepaidgsm site was the most important. Their Italy page is: http://www.prepaidgsm.net/en/italy.html

    - The SIM was 10 Euro which includes €5 of prepaid use. The operator of the (independent) Wind store I went to in Florence spoke English only slightly better than my non-existent Italian. He sold me the SIM and told me it would take about 3 hours for the phone to be recognized by the network.

    - I did not need the "Codice Fiscale" I had brought, as recommended by the prepaid GSM site, but he did copy my passport*, so perhaps he created a Codice Fiscale for me. In my rush to get the card, I forgot that I had the CF with me.

    - Although not strictly nesessary, I had already bought a €10 "Ricarica Telefonica" card to recharge ("ricarica" in Italian) my prepaid SIM. They take €2 off the top so a €10 card only gives you €8 for the phone. The instructions on the back of the card were all in Italian. The phone store guy was confident that when I called the special number on the card there would be instructions in English. There weren't. I had to listen to the message about 5 times before I figured out that the first part of the message was an ad for some new SMS service that I didn't want and finally understood the part where they tell you to enter the code on the card ("codice segreto").

    - To call home cheaply, I went to a tobacco shop (Tabacchi) and got a Wind Dialoga International card (€5 increments). When you use this, there are instructions in English and it is quite simple. It was about 13 cents a minute to call the US. Like almost all international cards, it tells you how many minutes you have for a given call at the start of the call.

    * (Side note: they are very big on copying passports in Italy. I was even asked for my passport when attempting to use an Internet Cafe. No passport, no service. Other Internet cafes only wanted my driver's license).

    SteveW
     
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  5. ShoresGuy

    ShoresGuy Euer WA Experte in Europa
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    It's always great to hear of someone's positive roaming experience.

    Thanks for sharing it :)
     
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  6. SteveW

    SteveW Battery mgmt is my life
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    ShoresGuy -

    A positive experience largely thanks to you :). I did a few things wrong - like buying a final recharge card late in my trip and leaving about €10 on the SIM - but it was a learning experience.

    There are also a few things I still don't understand, like why my Italian SIM card asked for the PIN each time I turned the phone on, even after I set "Confirm SIM Service Actions" to "No" in my phone settings.

    Also, what the heck is a "PUK"? :confused: Its on the card that carried the SIM right under the PIN. I don't remember needing to use it.

    SteveW
     
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  7. ShoresGuy

    ShoresGuy Euer WA Experte in Europa
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    In order to prevent the PIN prompt every time the phone powers up, you have to deactivate the PIN prompt in the Security Settings menu (Menu 4-8).

    Have a look here for the interactive Nokiahowto.com site which gives a detailed rundown:

    http://www.nokiahowto.com/6200/6200/
    http://www.nokiahowto.com/6200/6200/howto/f150/steps.html

    Setting the Confirm SIM Service Actions to No only prevents the SIM asking for confirmation if something is changed by the network.

    http://www.nokiahowto.com/6200/6200/howto/f084/steps.html

    The PUK(1) or PUK(2) code is the Personal Unblocking Key/Personal Unlock Code which is used to reactivate a blocked PIN(1) (your regular PIN) or PIN(2) (only used by a few providers to enable disable extended features like Fixed Dialing [allowing only certain numbers to dialed since the SIM maintains a list of allowed numbers if Fixed Dialing is activated]).

    http://www.phonescoop.com/glossary/term.php?gid=285
     
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  8. esqknight

    esqknight New Member

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    Wind Prepaid Sim And Dialoga International -where?

    I'll be traveling to Italy for approximately 2 weeks for my honeymoon and want to pick up a Wind prepaid SIM card, for my cell phone, and a Dialoga International prepaid calling card to call home.

    I'll be flying into Rome and staying near the main train station for a couple of days. Can anyone direct me as to where I can most easily purchase these?

    Thank you.
     
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  9. ShoresGuy

    ShoresGuy Euer WA Experte in Europa
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    Re: Wind Prepaid Sim And Dialoga International -where?

    Again, I'd recommend a post over at PrepaidGSM.net/forum. The Italian members can give you the feedback about where to look ;)
     
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  10. MOTOhooligan

    MOTOhooligan Former Mobile Data Addict
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    Awesome. Thanks for the update, Steve W. I'll be going to Italy at the end of the month and was looking at TIM but, based mostly on your post and the info from the prepaid forum Shores Guy hooked me up with (thanks again, Shores ;)) I think I'll be going with Wind.

    Viva Italia!
     
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  11. ShoresGuy

    ShoresGuy Euer WA Experte in Europa
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    No problem, if you're interested in using data for any reason, have a look at the sticky regarding WIND's MEGA data offers:

    http://www.prepaidgsm.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=966&hl=wind
    http://www.prepaidgsm.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=1113&hl=wind
    http://www.prepaidgsm.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=1063&hl=
    http://www.prepaidgsm.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=884&hl=

    They can also get you the WIND SIM in advance:
    http://www.prepaidgsm.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=888

    Additional Note:

    For those of you who buy a refill card and refill your accounts with it...all refills extend the validity of the SIM card. Normally all Western European providers set their SIMs up to be valid for 12 months after the last refill and extend the validity for an additional 2 months after the last refill has expired. After the 2 additional months, the SIM is deactivated in most cases. It depends on thorough the provider is.
     
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  12. waltbru

    waltbru New Member

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    Here's why it's so hard to get information on prepaid SIM chips: the phone companies make no profit on tourists, who discard their
    phone number after a few days or weeks. TIM sells SIMs for 10 Euros with $5 credit. After they spiff the local store who sells the account, they're making negative money unless you keep the SIM and recharge it for months. Hence, no marketing to tourists, just the high-profit local teenagers.

    However, having a local phone number is hugely valuable: for confirming reservations, calling ahead, receiving calls from the USA, and staying in contact with other members of your travel team.

    Forget taking walkie-talkies. In Spain, Vodaphone has a family talk plan. In Italy, TIM has a "Recarica Famiglia" plan that
    allows 4 phones to talk to each other for $.00 per minute for one week. I brought 4 unlocked GSM phones, bought TIM SIM chips for $10 Euro each, then paid an additional $5 (once) for the family plan. Then I handed out the phones and everyone could split up/reconnect at will throughout the trip. $45 total and I got $5 in outbound calling per phone. Inexplicably, the TIM store at Rome's airport can't be reached by arriving passengers. Instead, search for a TIM store here:
    Privati Tim. Remember to type in the Italian city name (e.g. "Roma", "Firenze").
    I bought Sony T200 European phones years ago for $50 on the Internet and they work great, less cost than a rental.
    Beware of roaming on your existing GSM phone, the charges can give you a post-trip nightmare. These plans are not marketed to
    tourists because there's no profit for a SIM chip that will be used a week or two, hence you have to scratch a bit. But the effort to find a store and buy the chips in-country has a handsome payoff in convenience when travelling.
     
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  13. SteveW

    SteveW Battery mgmt is my life
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    Wow, thanks for reviving this 3-year old thread and giving me the chance to reminisce. For me, it didn't seem hard to get information once ShoresGuy pointed out the places to look (where is ShoresGuy these days anyway?).

    I'm not an expert in prepaid phone economics, but it seems to me that if they sell the SIM for €5 (net) and split that with the store, the carrier is probably still not losing money. Does it cost more than €2.50 to manufacture and ship the SIM and provision the line? I doubt it. The store guy requests the provision and everything else is automated. I never spoke to a WIND employee, just listened to their computers and punched in some numbers.

    Then, if you're like me and you buy a "Recarica" card right before you leave the country and leave money on it, they get that free and clear. How many times have you gone to a major city like NY or DC for a few days, bought a Subway/Metro pass and left money on it when you went home? I've done it lots of times and I'm sure it's great for the local economy when millions of tourists do it.

    Anyway, welcome to WA and happy travels.



    SW
     
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  14. waltbru

    waltbru New Member

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    Hello WA,

    I posted here because this thread is ranked high in Google under "TIM GSM SIM Italy". I referenced this page and others pre-trip to try to figure out the shortest path to get 4 SIMs for my family phones for the Italy trip. Once I returned, having figured out why the process is such a twisty maze, I wanted to write a follow-up post, both as payback for the old-yet-good info you provided me, plus to help others caught in the same confusion.

    My data points were: (1) Very little information in English on TIM's site, (2) No directory of stores pinned to Google maps anywhere and no directory on TIM's site, (3) The TIM store at Rome's airport is in the departure area, inaccessible to arriving passengers, (4) The TIM store at the Termini railway station had zero new SIM chips for sale in two visits. Given that Italians invented the Ferrari and built the acqueducts hence are smart, this added up in my mind that TIM doesn't want tourist business.

    Once I was in Florence and found a neighborhood TIM store, I was treated well. The clerk took an hour and a half to process the gov't paperwork, activate 4 SIMs, enact the family recharge plan, enact the "TIM nuovo easy" plan on one for dialouts, and test the phones. That was my hint that the store is spiffed adequately, probably more than the $5 margin on each new chip. Why not? In the USA they strongly subsidize phones to get new accounts and potential future revenue. The front of the store is plastered with TIM signs and placed a significant portion of their square footage and employee time to supporting TIM.

    My guess is that TIM would rather have tourists roam on their AT&T accounts using the TIM network. TIM then shares $1.50 per minute roaming charges and no pesky chips to activate, numbers to provision for a week, or stores needing a spiff. The payoff to persistent travelers who run TIM's maze is affordable family calling for 4 phones for a total of $45, with free inbound calls.

    I hope this posting keeps your thread near the top of the Google rankings, plus educates high-tech tourists like myself who wonder how best to get their GSM phones to work affordably in Italy.
     
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