ITALY - CELL PHONES AND MOBILE PHONE INFORMATION
The following material is kindly provided by Sebastian at cellularabroad.com (October 2006):
Renting a villa or booking a hotel, car or a flight for
Italy online has made the process a snap. However, there
some aspects of your trip that will take some more figuring
out – like
how to manoeuvre your rental safely down the Amalfi Coast or
even more confusing, how to figure out if your cell phone works
in Italy. The short answer to the question, “will my
cell phone work in Italy?” is 'perhaps'.
good news is that even if your phone does not work in Italy,
there are solutions available that are so reasonably priced
you might want to consider them even if your cell phone does
First, let’s try to answer the question. If your cell
phone works in North America, you have a less than 50/50
chance your phone will work. In Italy, as well as the rest of
GSM cell phone technology relying on the 900 and 1800 frequencies
is used. If your phone uses the GSM technology in the United
States or Canada (such as T-Mobile or Cingular), your phone
also uses GSM. So that means it will work, right? Not necessarily.
In North America, although some carriers use GSM, unlike
virtually the rest of the world, they use the 1900 and 850 networks.
Isn’t it nice to be unique?
However, many of the newer
and pricier phones have international capabilities. Therefore,
as long as you confirm with your carrier, and sometimes pay
an access fee, you can “roam” internationally
including to Italy…for a price of course. As promised,
there are much less expensive solutions out there, but first,
address the issue for those who are Sprint, Rogers, Nextel,
Verizon or other users.
These carriers use a different standard
than GSM. However, there are very few cell phones that these
providers may either sell or rent you that will work in Italy.
If you want to go this route, make sure you get a phone that
has the 900 as well as the 1800 networks or you will get
partial or no coverage depending on where you are roaming.
you will want to find out what the exact rates are. Currently,
the lowest roaming rates are about $1.25 including tax for
both in and out calls.
If your North American phone does not work or you do not want
to pay those high fees to use a cell phone in Italy, you can “go
native.” As you will be able to ascertain first hand once
you arrive in Italy is that everyone has a cell phone and everyone
is constantly on them. One can only conclude that every Italian
has a lot of disposable income to spend on cellular service or
that the Italians are not spending $1.25 or more per minute for
their calls, and in fact, the latter is true. In fact, Italians
benefit from unlimited free incoming calls from anywhere. The key
here is to tap into the solution that the Italians use.
The majority of Italians, in fact, 90% of them, use a prepaid
cell phone service with no contract. This is also the perfect solution
for the short term visitor to Italy. You can go to virtually any
cell phone store in Italy and purchase a prepaid cell phone and
SIM card. Please keep in mind that sometimes cell phone stores
ask for certain documentation that only Italians have and therefore
will not allow you to buy from them. Also, if you do not speak
Italian you need to keep in mind that the operating instructions
for both the service as well as the cell phone itself will be in
Italian. You can also purchase or rent a cell phone with the same
exact rates at Cellular Abroad in the US prior to your departure.
Not only will you receive the same low cost service that the Italians
use but all of your instructions will be in English and you will
have the phone before you leave (this is also convenient for leaving
your phone number with family and friends).
Cellular Abroad offers unlimited free
incoming calls and inexpensive outgoing rates on your
cell phone in Italy. Contact 800-287-5072
or go to
this page for up to the minute information and pricing.
To sum up, while not all carriers allow you to take their cell
phones overseas, even when you are able to the roaming rates
can be exorbitant. For most, the most cost effective approach
use the same
service the locals use which is now available even to the short
term tourist. So while the question still remains the solution
is simply – do as the Italians do …now if we can
only figure out how to manoeuvre through customs just as easy!
*Disclaimer: All our information is correct at time of writing,
however knowital.com and/or Ginestra Internet cannot be held responsible
for any changes, omissions or errors of fact. We strongly advise
you to check anything you're unsure of before you begin your holiday.