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Guthdog (Offline)
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Default Best Strategy for Voice/Text/Data - 10 days between France and Germany - 05-09-2012, 21:32

Hello,

I am finally getting a chance to visit Europe in mid-September and I would like the forum's opinion on the best strategy to have access to voice/text and data during my, (unfortunately), short stay. I will be spending about five days in France, (Paris, Normandy, Verdun), and four in Germany, (Frankfurt, Otterbach).

I should note that data would be nice to have but it isn't absolutely critical since I'm sure I will have frequent access to Wi-Fi. In other words, if it is prohibitively expensive, I'll pass.

I have a Sprint Motorola Photon which is a "World Phone", (it is normally CDMA, but has a GSM SIM slot for use overseas).

I have done a little reading on the forum and it appears that SFR has very appealing plans, (unlimited texts etc), but coverage and support seems wanting. I am very open to different opinions.

My questions are as follows:

1) Is there one carrier that I can purchase a SIM from that would provide satisfactory service to both countries? I doubt it, but I had to ask.
2) Who are your favorite carriers for quality of service and coverage for France and for Germany, (assuming that I will have to change carriers during the trip).
3) Where should I acquire the SIM's, or should I leave this question for the concierge at my hotels?

Thanks in advance for your help and opinions.
   
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inquisitor (Offline)
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Default 06-09-2012, 02:11

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guthdog View Post
1) Is there one carrier that I can purchase a SIM from that would provide satisfactory service to both countries? I doubt it, but I had to ask.
As you anticipate the answer is no, at least if you intend to call outside the EU or need data.

Quote:
2) Who are your favorite carriers for quality of service and coverage for France and for Germany, (assuming that I will have to change carriers during the trip).
As long as you are not a heavy data user who needs omnipresent 3G coverage any operator will do it. Compared to the US coverage gaps are nearly inexistant in Europe and will usually only occur in remote uninhabited spots (see Mobile World Live - Coverage Maps for coverage maps of both countries).
Since I evade travelling to France due to prohibitively expensive data tariffs I can only provide advice for Germany, for which I would recommend Lidl mobile which provides best value for voice (calls to the US cost 9ct/min) and data (€ 2/day for unlimited data). Otterbach as well as Frankfurt are covered by O2's 3G network on which Lidl is based.
For further info on Lidl see LIDL mobile - Prepaid Wireless Internet Access and the corresponding threads on this forum.

Quote:
3) Where should I acquire the SIM's, or should I leave this question for the concierge at my hotels?
At a Lidl supermarket.


terminals: Samsung: Galaxy S5 DuoS (G900FD); BLU: Win HD LTE; Nokia: 1200; Asus: Fonepad 7 ME372CG; Huawei data: E3372, Vodafone R201, K3765, E1762;
postpaid: O2 on Business XL; prepaid: DE: Aldi Talk, Lidl; UK: 3; BG: MTel, vivacom; RU: MTS; RS: MTS; UAE: du Tourist SIM; INT'L: toggle mobile
VoIP: sipgate.de (German DID); sipgate.co.uk (British DID); ukddi.com (British DID); sipcall.ch (Swiss DID); megafon.bg (Bulgarian DID); InterVoip.com
   
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Guthdog (Offline)
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Default 06-09-2012, 02:34

Thank you for the suggestion Inquisitor, I appreciate it.

LIDL is not one I had seen in my searches yet. I am headed over to look at the link now.
   
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dg7feq (Offline)
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Default 06-09-2012, 07:57

as the french cards are quite expensive it would be nearly ok to use the Lidl card also in france, but you do the trip the wrong way round


Germany: smartmobil, simquadrat, Vodafone (data)
Thailand: truemove (phone+sms+wifi), TOT 3G (data)
International: xxSim+372, toggle +44/+49/+41/+31
Phones: Huawei Mate7, Zopo ZP700
   
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inquisitor (Offline)
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Default 06-09-2012, 11:20

Calling the US from France with a Lidl SIM would cost € 1.29/min while data would be charged with € 0.83/MB - given theses rates a French SIM would quickly pay off, I think.

There are two interesting options for American travellers who need to call home from France:
  • Mobiho : Votre Mobile moins cher ! - calls to the US for € 0.18/min, SIM cards cost € 10 and appear to be widely available in local shops
  • Call In Europe - calls to the US costs € 0.44/min, SIM card costs ~ € 10 (€ 7.95 + a monthly fee of € 1.67), delivery to the US


terminals: Samsung: Galaxy S5 DuoS (G900FD); BLU: Win HD LTE; Nokia: 1200; Asus: Fonepad 7 ME372CG; Huawei data: E3372, Vodafone R201, K3765, E1762;
postpaid: O2 on Business XL; prepaid: DE: Aldi Talk, Lidl; UK: 3; BG: MTel, vivacom; RU: MTS; RS: MTS; UAE: du Tourist SIM; INT'L: toggle mobile
VoIP: sipgate.de (German DID); sipgate.co.uk (British DID); ukddi.com (British DID); sipcall.ch (Swiss DID); megafon.bg (Bulgarian DID); InterVoip.com

Last edited by inquisitor; 06-09-2012 at 11:45..
   
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dg7feq (Offline)
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Default 06-09-2012, 12:19

yes, if you intend to make many calls to home a local card mostly pays off. But if you only need to be reachable and call some hotels etc. it is usually not a big deal to use the same card all over europe nowadays.
And regarding the data rates - my smartphone used about 32 MB last month. So if you use 10 MB in a week and pay 8 Euro while on roaming it is also often not worth to search a local card.


Germany: smartmobil, simquadrat, Vodafone (data)
Thailand: truemove (phone+sms+wifi), TOT 3G (data)
International: xxSim+372, toggle +44/+49/+41/+31
Phones: Huawei Mate7, Zopo ZP700
   
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Default 06-09-2012, 13:03

I'd suggest a Truphone or Piranha sim - then just one for both countries, you are set up for future travel, you get a US number for people to contact you easily and cheaply from the US. Piranha is much cheaper for data and calls in Europe. Data is reasonable in limited doses e.g. for email, and calling back to the US is cheap with Piranha (but Truphone is direct dial, Piranha is call back system).
   
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powerlifter (Offline)
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Default 06-09-2012, 15:02

Let me ask a question. Is your sprint phone unlocked to use any sim card? Or does sprint have a sim card in it that the phone is locked to. When I was with the US govt. we had sprint blackberries. I traveled once a month to old Russian block countries or to Asia. We had phones that were for voice and e-mail only, no text, no internet and no other programs. we would come back to a bill in the thousands as we answered all our e-mails, and took calls on this phone. So make sure your phone is unlocked to insert another sim card in it.


[size=1]Prepaid cards, Moldova Tempo, Kyrg Republic BiTel, India Hutch, Bulgaria Mtel, Vodafone, UK. Etisalat. UAE. Afghan Wireless, Afghanistan. Three, UK. T-mobile post-paid.

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Guthdog (Offline)
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Default Thank you all for your responses - 07-09-2012, 05:28

Much appreciated...

In reverse order:

@Powerlifter - Thank you for asking. Yes, the phone is unlocked for use on non-US GSM towers, research indicates that the radios on Sprint "World Phones" are set to ignore US GSM towers, (apparently this is hackable if you want to root the phone, I'll leave that to my 19 year old son to try on his phone that I didn't buy). You touched on a mortal fear of mine as I am already stretching a bit to make it to Europe on a pleasure trip; I fear the shine would come right off the memories if I had a $2K bill waiting for me when I got home.

@DavidtheProf - two more to add to my list to check out, thank you. When you describe a "Call Back" system, you mean that the caller in the states would dial a number, wait for some sort of tone then hang up and when the call connects, the phone rings back, correct?

@dg7feq - Fair consideration, but I am concerned about how fast time will go when mom gets on the phone with the kids, (my 11 year old son could care less that we're leaving, he's staying with grandma which promises to be a party, my 8 year old daughter is green with envy and will drag every conversation out as long as possible), especially when billed in full minute increments. The LIDL card is at $.09/minute and my friend in Otterbach can pick one up for us in Germany and pass it to us when he meets us in Paris.

@Inquisitor - Mobiho looks very attractive from a cost perspective, but I don't read a word of French! Is there a data plan that can be added to the voice services? Per your earlier post, with any of the major carrier networks, I shouldn't really have to be concerned with coverage in any but the most remote locations, correct?

Again, thanks to all of you for your input.
   
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Bossman (Offline)
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Default 07-09-2012, 10:56

The callback is for when you are dialing out. You dial, hang up, you will get some message on the screen (wait, inavalid, etc...), you will get a call back and hear the phone ringing or busy or whatever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guthdog View Post
When you describe a "Call Back" system, you mean that the caller in the states would dial a number, wait for some sort of tone then hang up and when the call connects, the phone rings back, correct?


Phones: ASUS zenfone 3, Nexus 4, Lumia 650 dual sim
Sim cards: AT&T (Contract), 3 UK, Piranha Mobile
   
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