Sunday, December 21, 2008

Europe cellphone and internet access

I recently made a quick trip to Spain. Internet was available at my hotel, ethernet, wifi, or they even had computers for business people to use. I didn't spend any time in the hotel so I didn't use those services.

But, I did buy an unlocked Quad-band cellphone from that I found at I got the Motorola V235. It was $80. I wanted something with basic internet capabilities and a camera. If my US cellphone carrier used SIM cards I would have gotten a better phone, but if you have read the rest of this blog, you know I am happy with my Sprint Touch.

Quad-band cellphones will work everywhere. (but maybe Japan?)...well everwhere I will be going.

Now to get a SIM card. I wanted it to be cheap to use, no monthly fee, and it had to roam everywhere I go.

I did a lot of searching...there are numerous European websites that discuss this, but it is hard to buy a European SIM card in the US. In addition, many of them use an Estonia phone number.

I found the SIM through I assume it is the same company...since they link to each other. I bought the Passport SIM card. They sell Passport lite, Passport, Passport PLUS, and the Explorer SIM card. The Passport cards initial price depends on the roaming and outgoing calls price, but they all have UK phone numbers. The Explorer has an Estonia phone number.

You may wonder why I keep mentioning the Estonia phone number cellphone provider Sprint has an international calling package for $4 a month and $0.05 a minute $0.05 PLUS $0.34 mobile charge per minute to the UK (outgoing calls on Ekit are $0.49 a minute) is about $1 to Estonia. The Passport SIM card has free incoming calls if they call the UK number (there is also an 800 number that can be used, but it charges your sim card).

So while I sat in a cafe on La Rambla having an espresso and a beer, my wife called me from the states...we chatted for about 5 minutes. My SIM card was charged nothing, her cell phone was charged a quarter $2.00. If I had called here using some other service that call would be around $5. You can see how it quickly adds up.

I am still working out some bugs. Apparently I can't text to a Sprint phone...I don't know why, but it is in the documentation. Also I apparently didn't set up the APN info correctly since I couldn't get the cellphone (or laptop) to access the internet.

As far as internet goes. This card included a data plan for $20 per megabyte in Spain you won't be surfing the web all afternoon.

You can get better deals if you get a SIM card that only works in that country with no just depends on your needs.

As a side note, the WWAN card/software I installed in my Dell blocked my tethering capability to my Sprint for now it is removed...but I am looking at getting a T-mobile or At&t data plan for my laptop.

UPDATE: Worked great in Milan Italy, but again I couldn't get the internet part to work in Italy, although it did work in the US. Now explain why I can receive a call in an Milan subway car running down the track, but I get a dropouts in my house in the middle of town in the US?
UPDATE: Got the bill from Sprint and realized I had misread the pricing...but still cheaper than the alternate and more convenient.

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