How to Get Affordable Cell Phone Service for Italy
Most rental villas or apartments do not come equipped with a land line phone for guests to use. Italy, however has some of the best cellular coverage in the world and, since the rates are affordable, it is possible to have the convenience of a cell phone for the length of your sojourn in Italy without biting too much into your budget. There are, however, different ways of obtaining cellular service for Italy and the majority of them are quite expensive. Here is how you, as a traveler to Italy, can obtain cellular service for Italy for fractions of what it would cost to rent a cell phone through conventional channels or to roam with your home country provider. First, here is some general information about international cellular service.
As with most countries in the world, Italy has opted to utilize the GSM standard for its cellular service. GSM offers digital service that is usually so crystal clear that it is difficult to discern if you are on a cellphone or using a landline. Whether you are in a populated area or relaxing on the beach all alone, you are very likely to have cell phone reception. In fact, 99.8% of all Italians has access to cellular coverage. In Italy, as in many other countries in the world nowadays, many people don't even bother having a home phone. If you think about it, since cell phone service is inexpensive as well as excellent, what is the point of having a landline?
If you are traveling to Italy and want to use your current US/Canadian cell phone, you most likely will be unable to do so. Unless you have a GSM tri-band or quad-band cell phone, you will need to make special arrangements with your current cellular carrier. They will rent you a handset with what is called a SIM chip (Subscriber Information Module) inserted into the phone. The SIM chip is the brain of the phone, containing such information as the cell phone number, voice mail and call logs. Getting set up in this manner with your current service provider will however, allows you to retain your US phone number and receive and make calls anywhere in the world. However, many tourists to Italy appreciate having a local Italian number and will just give out their new Italian cell phone number to friends and family or leave it on their voice mail before their departure. Usually there is a monthly fee for being able to use the service internationally plus high roaming rates (call rates) and other applicable charges such as renting the handset and having it delivered to you.
Another alternative is to rent a cell phone. You can rent a cell phone for Italy at any international airport either prior to departing or upon arrival or through many other traditional channels such as the yellow pages. Rates generally average $25-$50 per week for the handset rental plus per minute charges for actually placing and receiving calls. There are usually minimum per day or per week usage rates, regardless if you use the service or not.
Alternatively, and this is by far the least expensive alternative, you can use a service that was designed specifically for US and Canadian travelers going to Italy and needing an affordable communication solution. Cellular Abroad, Inc. a Los Angeles based company with offices in Italy, together with Uno Mobile, an Italian carrier owned by Carre Four (a large European company), has created a pay as you go service with special rates to call North America. The 24/7customer service as well as the menus (voice mail, checking credit, etc.) are in English. Rates back to the United States and Canada are only 0.35 Euros per minute. Local calls are 0.09 Euros per minute and all incoming calls are free. Furthermore, you can get 1GB of data for only 9 Euros. If you already own a compatible cell phone, simply purchase an Italy SIM card. If you do not own a cell phone that works in Italy or you prefer to rent or buy a cell phone, Cellular Abroad offers several packages to choose from.
Traveling to multiple destinations?
If you are traveling to multiple destinations, try the National Geographic International Travel Phone or SIM. The service is considered the best on the market and there is a 24/7 toll free number – from your handset. In terms of value, the main benefit is the free incoming calls in over 50 countries. Again, if you are a frequent traveler and already have an international cell phone, all you need to do is to purchase the stand alone SIM card. If you don’t have a cell phone that works abroad, you can either rent or purchase a phone/SIM combination solution. Frequent travelers will usually purchase a phone package while infrequent travelers often prefer to rent. Whether you are traveling only to Italy or throughout the world, there is an affordable, reliable and easy to use solution.
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