Cell phone usage in Europe

I know this question has been asked again and again in this forum. Sorry If i am being repetitive
Unfortunately I could not conclude any decision out of it. I have an unlocked device 3g deivce -- so thats not an issue I am planning to travel to Germany / Austria/ Hungary and Italy. I am looking for a sim card, which I can make local calls/ data service at a reasonable price. what should I buy -- Also I land in Germany can i get it there?/ Vj

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

You can probably buy a SIM card right at the airport. Make sure they set it up for you in the store, so that you don't have to deal with prompts that you won't understand in German. You can use the same SIM in all of the countries you are visiting, as long as you have a method of buying more minutes if you need them. The other, more expensive, alternative would be to use a "travel" SIM that is post-paid (charged to a credit card as you go along, so no buying minutes). There are a number of companies, like Eurobuzz and Mobal, that offer them. With those you get a permanent number (regular SIMs expire after a certain number of months unless you keep it active).

Posted by VJ
Austin, TX, USA
14 posts

Hi Nancy, Thanks for the reply. I am looking for a local sim card which I make local calls/ data. Any particular brand that is recommended? that I can purchase from frankfurt airport? Thanks
Vj

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7211 posts

VJ, I think you can just stop by one of several kiosks at the airport and tell them what you need and get the best option for you. A SIM card is cheap and cheap per minute for local calls, I didn't do data (used an Ipod touch when we had WiFi) so you might need something a little different. Worst case scenario, you may have to wait and visit a phone store downtown to find something you're happy with - but I'm guessing you can find what you need at the airport.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

VJ, To begin with, it would help to have more information on your "unlocked 3G device". What type of device is it, and which cell network was it connected to? Also, how long will you be travelling? You'll have to check the "Input Voltage" ratings on the Charger to ensure it's designed for operation from 100-240 VAC. You will of course need Plug Adaptors specific to the countries you'll be visiting (the Euro model with two round pins should work fine). I never buy SIM cards in Europe, so I can't recommend a specific carrier. However, a few comments.... The main cell networks in Germany are Telekom, Vodaphone, E-Plus & O2. I'm not sure which ones have sales outlets in the "Arrivals" area at FRA? It shouldn't be difficult to buy a SIM card for voice & text, but getting data on a PAYG plan could be more problematic. It would be a good idea to make sure the plan is set up and working properly before you leave the store, as menus will likely be in German. You'll also have to ensure that you can top-up easily in other countries. Your credit will deplete faster when you leave the country where the SIM was purchased, as you'll be "roaming". You could also use a SIM from one of the "travel phone firms" such as Roam Simple, Cellular Abroad, Telestial, Mobal or EuroBuzz (there are others). Many of those use post-paid billing, with calls charged to a credit card so no need to "top up". Many of the firms offer data, but it tends to be a bit "pricey". The cheapest and simplest solution would be to buy a SIM for voice & text only, but leave the cellular data blocked. You'll still be able to access the internet in Wi-Fi areas. Hopefully the others will have more suggestions. Happy travels!

Posted by VJ
Austin, TX, USA
14 posts

Hi Ken, I have a droid2 global unlocked,
which I believe has all the 3g/2g frequencies, also I have a world charger. I am travelling for 2-3 weeks, primarily in austria and italy. VJ

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

VJ, AFAIK the Droid 2 global has quad-band GSM capabilities as well as CDMA, so that should work fine in Europe. It's good to hear that it has a "world charger", but don't forget the Plug Adaptors! The two choices you'll have.... (1.) Buy a local SIM when you arrive at FRA (some of the others in the group here have purchased SIM's in Germany, so hopefully they'll add a few comments). (2.) Use a SIM from one of the travel phone firms that I mentioned (you'll have to check their respective websites for details and costs). Good luck!

Posted by VJ
Austin, TX, USA
14 posts

Hi Ken Thanks for the suggestions. What I meant by world charger was Usb cable and 5 different plug adaptors for different countries. Still looking for that recommendation for that local sim for Austria and Italy Thanks
Vj

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

VJ, If you prefer to use SIM cards purchased in each country, simply visit local cell phone shops in each country, which are ubiquitous in Europe. I don't know whether it will be possible to get plans with data on a PAYG plan? One other point to note is that in Italy, you may need a Codice Fiscale and register with your Passport in order to obtain a local SIM. That's apparently not too difficult, but it's a bureaucracy I prefer not to deal with. I've been using a SIM from one of the travel phone firms I mentioned for the past few years, and it's worked well so far. It's by far the easiest and simplest solution, albeit not the cheapest since I've also been getting data. Three of the features I like are: (1.) Consistent rates regardless of which country I'm in. (2.) Post-paid billing so never any need to top-up. (3.) It works the same as at home. Some of the travel phone firms use a "ring back system", and there's no way I'll put up with that. Cheers!

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

VJ, I hope one of those who actually reside in Germany would post here, but in the meantime: Yes, you should be able to get a prepaid account with data. This will be your most cost effective solution. A SIM from Germany should roam just fine in the other countries. Rates are generally capped (true for voice and text, and soon to be true for data, if not already), so roaming isn't a killer. You just need to be able to "top up" your account while outside Germany (or load enough credit on your SIM to last you). Here is a thread I started two years ago: For overseas DATA, local prepaid is best solution. I recently returned from a trip overseas and what I wrote in 2011 is even more true today. The cost for prepaid data has dropped and the amount you can get has increased. It is so convenient, I hardly bothered with wifi.

Posted by VJ
Austin, TX, USA
14 posts

Hi Paul, Thanks for that. Can you recommend any specific carrier? sim that i should purchase? Thanks
Vijay

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

I used T-Mobile in the U.K. Because T-Mobile is a German company, T-Mobile in Germany ought to offer similar services.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

A bit of further information on T-Mobile.... It's now been re-branded to Telekom, under ownership of Deutsche Telekom. I believe it's the largest network in Germany, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding stores (look for a pink "T" logo). I'd suggest waiting to find a cell shop in the first city you visit, rather than trying to find one at the airport (where your choices will be more limited). Cheers!

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

Nigel, T-Mobile is pushing users to switch to EE (which apparently is a joint venture of T-Mobile and Orange) but it looks like it still exists. The website does, at least. I think there were still T-Mobile stores in London a month ago.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

T-Mobile is no more. Bereft of life it is pushin' up the daisies. It is an ex-mobile company. It is now one part of the stupidly named EE.