Short term cell phone in Italy?
November 29, 2009 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Cell phone for 3 months in Italy? Cheap is good.

Mt daughter is headed for study abroad in Florence next semester. I am cell-phone clueless. We have Sprint, but I've heard we don't to (or can't) use her phone there.
Is there a 3 month solution to cell phones in Italy that won't break my bank? Should I do it here, or let her do it there?
Pointers and hints gratefully accepted.
posted by cccorlew to Technology (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
And of course, that should read "My daughter" and not "Mt daughter."
posted by cccorlew at 10:22 AM on November 29, 2009

You can let her do it there.

One thing you can do to help before she goes is provide her with an unlocked or pre-paid GSM phone. She can then go to say a Vodafone shop, buys a sim card, and then has an italian number. Is this for her to make local (Italian or European) calls?

As far as I know your Sprint phone is not a GSM phone. GSM operators in the U.S. do include T-Mobile and Verizon and others but not Sprint.
posted by vacapinta at 10:46 AM on November 29, 2009

She can buy a cheap Nokia or some such for about €30, a sim-card for usually €10 (with €5 of prepaid minutes on it) in any large electronics store or even larger supermarkets. There are four main operators: TIM (formerly state-owned), Vodafone, Wind and Tre , plus may more VMOs (virtual mobile operators). Plan prices vary wildly and one can easily get lost there (I do). Minutes can be bought almost everywhere (newsstands, tobacconists, supermarkets) or online.
I'm (currently 20 miles out, but lived 35 years in) Florence, by the way, so feel free to memail me for any question, phone-related or otherwise.
posted by _dario at 10:53 AM on November 29, 2009

I would recommend Tim for your daughter, I did study abroad in Bologna last year and Tim do free texts to anyone on the same network. I used Skype to call home as well.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:15 AM on November 29, 2009

I used in Call In Europe for our 2-3 week trip to Europe (mostly Germany) last December and they were GREAT. They shipped the phone to me here (in the US) before we departed, and that included getting a phone number assignment before we departed so we could give it to everyone. The phone didn't work (we didn't even turn it on) until we arrived in Germany but that was expected. I don't know how much they'd cost in your case but I'd seriously consider them if I were you.

Here's the AskMefi question which ended up pointing me to Call In Europe.
posted by intermod at 11:35 AM on November 29, 2009

In Norway (though I've heard that this is the same in a lot of Europe) I just walked into the first mobile phone shop I found (you could take the time to compare carriers, though) and asked for a prepaid sim card. It took about 30 seconds, I paid 50 kroner and got 25 kroner of credit on the card. My norwegian was never good enough to set up voicemail or add more money, but that turned out to be fine. I stuck it in a borrowed, unlocked phone (you can get one before she leaves- just search 'unlocked' on craigslist or ebay and make sure the phone is on the same frequency as the Italian carrier - this should turn up with a quick google search).

There are people who will ship you the SIM ahead of time at a vastly inflated price, but it's super-cheap to just do it there. I assume she'll just use this for communicating within Italy - calls to and from the US are prohibitively expensive, skype would be a much better alternative, assuming she'll have internet access at home.
posted by R a c h e l at 1:39 PM on November 29, 2009

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