We had some strong winds (“scirocco”) and it took down our Internet service. It was gone for 2 days which is why I’m late in giving you an update! I didn’t abandon you!! In fact I’ve been worried about writing here as soon as I could!
I guess that makes this a good time to talk about phone/Internet service…
UNLOCKING YOUR PHONE
Europe has a completely different system than in the US. Phones need to be unlocked by your carrier (AT&T for example). The reason is…carriers give you phones at a discounted price when you sign a contract with them. This is so they can gain back the discounted amount over the next two years. Europe doesn’t have the same carriers, so to use their carriers you must “unlock” your phone. Once it’s unlocked, you choose whichever carrier you like, replace your current SIM card with the new, and voila! Remember to save all your contacts either onto your phone or in the iCloud because all contacts on your SIM card will be lost. (They should return if you go back to using your old SIM card)
Most carriers will unlock your phone for you once your contract is up. AT&T does this for free: submit a request online and it takes 5-7 days for them to unlock it for you. You can have your phone unlocked at a phone store in whatever country you are visiting, but if it is not an official representative of your carrier, they can damage your phone–it may be worth it for you, but there is some risk involved. So make sure you trust the person you are handing your phone to!
This may have been intuitive to everyone else, but it really surprised me! You can buy an Internet Key from a European phone carrier (ie. Wind, Vodafone, etc). This key looks exactly like a thumb drive that you plug into the USB port of your computer-it then gives you internet access.
- The key = around 30-40 euros
- The service = you pick how much data you want. A typical phone plan in the US might be 2GB. Here you can choose from a variety of plans and it’s best to look at the specials. 9GB was about 15 euros.
The thing that really surprised me was that the key has a SIM card and you can take that card and put it into a phone and make calls!! It kinda blew my mind. Of course, making calls this way, you wouldn’t have a phone number so no one could call you. But that might not be such a bad thing!
Here, its best to shop around for a phone. By that I mean, you should look at the deals different carriers have at the time. Also consider the people you will be calling and what carriers they have—some carriers might have a discounted rate when you call/text a person using the same service. Then you have to purchase the amount of money you’d like to put on your phone. Once that money runs out, you go to a Tabbacery and “recharge”.
A FREE LESSON
We bought a phone, SIM card and put money on our phone. (To get all this we had to provide our passport!) We left the store thinking we would have service that night….3 days later we still don’t have service. It turns out they gave us a faulty SIM card and we have to go back to get a new one. No “Sorry for the inconvenience” or anything! And we have to drive an hour to go back to that store!!
Welcome to Italy, no?