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WIND Mobile Cell Service

I purchased two WIND Mobile pre-paid SIM cards while in Italy earlier this (October '15) month. Unfortunately, I can't recommend this service due to its lack of reliability and its hidden expenses.

The tourist package I chose for 20 euro each included 100 minutes of in-country voice calls, 2GB of data and 5 euro of balance for SMS text messages at 0.15 euro each. Fortunately, I was able to make emergency calls back the USA on our last day when our return flight was cancelled.

The signal coverage in Venice, Florence and Rome was very spotty. Outside the cities, it was pretty much non-existent. Rarely did I have more than one or two bars of signal strength and I only had 4G data once or twice. In fact, if I went into a building I would lose service completely and most of the time we had 1G data coverage.

Probably the worst part was that after sending 3 SMS messages back and forth between our 2 phones, we had depleted our entire balance. I took the phones into the WIND store and they could not explain it. I went ahead and added another 5 euro to each phone but we still could not send SMS messages - we got messages from WIND that we didn't have the necessary balance needed to send the message.

If you are going to Italy and need/want a pay-as-you-go SIM, I would skip WIND and try one of the other brands. I heard good things about TIM from other tourists but not until it was too late.

Happy Travels.

Posted by
167 posts

I researched Italia cell service before leaving and found TIM to be well recommended.
When I arrived in Verona, I found the TIM store just around the corner from my B and B,
I was very satisfied with the store and a most helpful young man and the quality of reception from TIM. I used it for local calls which is extremely useful on many occasions, and also for dialing a local access number from a very cheap calling plan that I have used for years. Having a local access number in Italy allowed me to call my friends and family in the US for only the cost of local, in-county minutes.
I have no need or use of data on a cell phone, use my Ipad for Wfi for that sort of thing.

Posted by
823 posts

From my research, there seemed to be little difference between the various providers. The WIND store in Venice S.M. station was convenient so that's where I stopped first. I admit it was a mistake to be so hasty...

I use data on my phone quite a bit. From getting directions to checking transportation schedules to finding restaurants, my main reason for getting a local SIM is for the cellular data connection. I was really disappointed with WIND. Next time I'll know better...

Posted by
4686 posts

Todd, what kind of phones were you using these WIND SIM card with? Not all US phones have the radio frequencies needed to get the optimal connections in Europe. For example, when I was in Europe (Croatia and Bosnia mostly) in May, I had my US T-Mobile phone with me - a cheap Android phone. I used T-Mobile service in Croatia (part of the roaming package) but bought SIM cards in Montenegro and Bosnia. It was then that I realized my phone was capable of only 2G connections in Europe, even though it can connect at 3G in the US. But we use different frequencies in North America. More expensive phones have better radios capable of connecting on more high speed frequencies than my phone could.

Even if you buy local SIM cards when you travel overseas, I recommend installing the Google Hangouts app so you can make free phone calls and texts to US phones while on WiFi or mobile data. Had you done this, you could have texted each other without using up your SMS allowance, and you would have had the option to call the US on WiFi (when your flight was canceled) without relying on your mobile connection, though it worked for you in that case. Either way, something like Google Hangouts would let you preserve your minutes/SMS on the local SIM cards.

I bought a TIM SIM card in Italy years ago (without a smart phone) and general reception seemed good everywhere I tried it.

Posted by
770 posts

Thanks for posting your experience. It's very timely for me as I was just exploring TIM vs. WIND 30-day tourist plans last night. I want data and texting more than voice, so I guess I'll pay the bit more for TIM. Still much cheaper than the "Roam Anywhere" plan from my extortionate Canadian provider!

Posted by
823 posts

Andrew - we both have new iPhone 6s. The reception problems were regardless of the Otterbox cases (or not). We heard from several locals that WIND just isn't very good service.