Iphone with Data Access

I'm planning a trip to the U.K., Germany, Turkey, and Greece. I'd like to have access to a fair amount of DATA usage on my iphone from home. Is there a sim card or plan that I can get that for a reasonable price? Last time I went, I used over 150MB of data, and paid AT&T about $200.00 for that. I'd like to find something where I pay a reasonable rate, and have more data, so I don't have to keep my phone off all the time, and can use it for mapping/GPS etc and email. Thanks!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

jeff, Unfortunately, I don't think there's an "easy answer" to your question, especially as you'll be travelling in multiple countries. Access to a "fair amount of DATA" is going to cost, regardless of which network you use. Your options would seem to be..... > Use AT&T data roaming - you've used that before, so have some idea on what the cost will be. If you use Wi-Fi as much as possible and 3G data when necessary, it's still a reasonably cost effective option. If you leave the phone part "on", be sure to tell contacts NOT to call when you're travelling, as you'll pay for incoming calls! > Use a "travel SIM" (IF your iPhone is unlocked) - I checked one of the travel phone firms, and they offer a pre-paid 200 MB data plan for $199, so you're still about the same cost as what you spent on your last trip. > Buy a local SIM in the first country you visit - I've never tried buying a local SIM with data on a PAYG plan, so not sure how easy that will be? The issue might be topping-up once you leave that country. > Buy a local PAYG SIM with data in EACH country you visit - again, not sure how easy that will be? Your number will change each time you change SIM's, so it may be hard for others to know which number you're using at any time. It's not necessary to keep the phone "Off" all the time. Use the settings and block the cellular data and data roaming (depending on which model iPhone you're using), which will leave the phone active for voice and texts. If you want all wireless functions "off", just place the phone in "Airplane mode" and manually switch the Wi-Fi "On". Bottom line.... there's no "free lunch" - if you want "a fair amount of data", there will be a cost for that. Happy travels!

Posted by Eric
Beaverton, Oregon, USA
84 posts

I really hope that five years from now, we won't have to be asking these questions. Why should it be so difficult in this global economy to have reasonably priced overseas data access that doesn't require jumping through SIM card hoops. Its not like this technology is new after all. There's my rant for the day.

Posted by James
Frisco
1799 posts

I agree you would think we would be there by now. Until then find accommodations with free wifi and check the web before you go for free and subscription wifi spots around the towns you will be visiting

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

@Eric, "I really hope that five years from now, we won't have to be asking these questions." Unfortunately, I suspect this may still be an issue in five years (and longer). Cell networks tend to favour their own customers first, as they're the ones who provide the primary revenue stream to support the networks with their monthly contracts, etc. While foreign networks may allow customers from other countries to roam, there will always be a charge for that. With roaming customers, the local networks first bill the customers home network using a mechanism called "Transferred Account Protocol". The home network tacks on their markup and then passes the bill on to their customer. Data is more expensive to provide than voice or text given the bandwidth and other factors, so that's reflected in the higher charges. Cellular networks have to pay billions to their respective governments for frequency spectrum, so you can be sure they'll not only recover those costs but also make a healthy profit to keep their shareholders happy. I also wish the situation was different as I'm using an iPhone now, but I don't see this changing in the foreseeable future. Cheers!

Posted by jeff
aptos, CA
12 posts

Thank you all..
I was hoping that there would be some sort of "international" type of data sim card, as there is for voice...where they give you a UK number and often also a U.S. number, and the price is sort of "in-between" what you'd pay locally and what you'd pay if you went through AT&T. If anyone knows of something like that, please let me know...Otherwise, I may just be stuck using AT&T and paying through the nose... Jeff

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

Jeff, for information about international SIM cards (they do have data as well as voice plans), look at this: http://www.prepaidgsm.net/en/international.php. Click on "Prepaid offer" for each card to see the details. If you still have questions, look at their Forums. Be aware these can be VERY technical; don't be afraid to ask for clarification if needed.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

jeff, "I was hoping that there would be some sort of "international" type of data sim card, as there is for voice...where they give you a UK number and often also a U.S. number, and the price is sort of "in-between" what you'd pay locally" There ARE services available that provide both a U.K. and U.S. number but again, there's no "free lunch" so there will be a cost for the convenience of having data capability. 200 MB of data will cost $199, and if you go over that amount it's $8 per MB (which can add up - trust me on that one). Many of the "travel phone" firms are now offering data packages but there's always a cost. You'll have to weigh that against what you were paying for AT&T service. Cheers!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

jeff, There are MANY travel phone firms, so it's a good idea to compare features and costs. I only provided a link to one in my previous reply. You could also check Cellular Abroad, Call In Europe, Telestial, Mobal, Eurobuzz, Tru-Phone, One Sim or others. I've tried the service mentioned in the link, and it's worked well although the data portion isn't cheap. This is something I "fine tune" on every trip, but I'll probably use them again on my next trip. I've only travelled with an iPhone once, so it's somewhat a "work in progress" to figure out the most cost effective plan. Cheers!