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lizzie1955 (Offline)
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Default Fonic for a Month in Munich - 15-04-2014, 19:34

It has been a couple of years since my last visit to Germany. I'll be spending most of the month of July in Munich.

Is Fonic still my best bet? I am using an unocked Samsung Galaxy Note SGH I717.

Thanks!

Lizzie
   
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Default 15-04-2014, 22:31

Hi Lizzie,

Do you still have an active Fonic SIM card or would you need to buy a new SIM card anyway? In the latter case, I would recommend buying an Aldi Talk SIM card sold at Aldi supermarkets instead which offers a number of advantages over Fonic/Lidl:
  • Aldi does not verify your - mandatory German - registration address by sending out letters, so there are no hurdles for visitors to register.
  • Further to that Aldi offers a wider range of mostly cheaper data and voice packages and all can be purchased from the prepaid credit on your SIM card. Fonic/Lidl in contrast requires direct debit payments from a German bank account for some of their bundles of minutes and data allowance.
  • Lastly Aldi has scraped roaming fees in the whole EU + EEU + Switzerland where you can now call at very reasonable rates and there's also a fairly priced data pack for use outside Germany (120MB valid for 7 days for 4.99). So Aldi is also quite interesting should you travel to any other European country in the future.
  • As of network quality Aldi uses the eplus network which had issues in the past but as they have massively invested in the modernization of their 3G network while all the other operators have been allocating all their resources to the expensive 4G (LTE) roll-out, eplus now often outperforms its competitors when it comes to 3G.

Given that your Galaxy Note does not support 4G (LTE) and since all the other German operators don't allow prepaid subscribers onto their 4G networks, 3G performance is all what counts for you and that's where eplus is definitely competitive.

Best,


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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Default 16-04-2014, 01:17

As always, thank you so much for the suggestion. As it turns out, I do have to get a new SIM. My Fonic disappeared....I'll check out the Aldi SIM. The roaming will be helpful for me as I will be going back and forth to Salzburg.

Is this a SIM that I'll be able to purchase before leaving or will I have to wait until I get to Germany?
   
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lizzie1955 (Offline)
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Default 16-04-2014, 02:01

Chris, Will I have trouble finding an Aldi SIM and topping it up if I don't have an Aldi near by?
   
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Default 16-04-2014, 13:50

As Aldi SIMs are exclusively sold at Aldi supermarkets, there's no way to buy one ahead of your arrival except for someone in Germany picking it up for you (see your email inbox for volunteers).
As of rechargig, Aldi supermarkets are everywhere but you can also use top-up vouchers from eplus, which are sold at every gasstation, supermarket and kiosk.


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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lizzie1955 (Offline)
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Default 16-04-2014, 14:13

Thank you again. Knowing I can use a top-up from eplus makes this very doable. If there is someone in Germany willing to buy a card in advance for me, that would be amazing. I'll look for the volunteer list.
   
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Default 17-04-2014, 01:44

I forgot to mention that I just got a Samsung Mega SGH 1527. It is still locked to AT&T but I'm pretty sure I can get it unlocked. Is there any reason I would be better off using the Mega in Germany rather than the Note? Thanks!
   
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Default 17-04-2014, 02:25

Eplus is special in being the only German operator to let their prepaid subscribers access their 4G (LTE) network. That's why Aldi subscribers can use fast 4G service, though eplus' 4G coverage is still very limited and even in launch cities (Berlin, Leipzig, Nuremberg. Munich, Cologne, Bonn, Frankfurt and Stuttgart) patchy.

Unfortunately the frequency eplus uses for 4G today (LTE frequency band 3, former GSM1800 band) is not supported by your Samsung Galaxy Mega (SGH-I527), which is targeted at the American market and so mostly supports American 4G frequencies instead (LTE: Bands 1,2,4,5,7,17). So despite your phone is 4G capable it can't get 4G service in Germany unless eplus starts LTE service in LTE bands 1 or 7 in which they own spectrum but haven't deployed LTE to yet. As of 3G (UMTS) and 2G (GSM), the Galaxy Mega is fully compatible with all German networks.


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; 17-04-2014 at 02:32..
   
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lizzie1955 (Offline)
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Default 17-04-2014, 20:00

Does it pay to pick up a European Smartphone or will my mine with 3G be adequate?

Also, just out of curiousity, what are your thoughts on Lebara.de. They seem very tourist-friendly.

Enjoy the holiday weekend!
   
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Default 18-04-2014, 15:52

The only advantage of a European handset would be that it would support all European 4G (LTE) frequencies (your Galaxy Mega actually supports two out of 5 or so LTE frequency bands used in Europe, however none of the ones currently used in Germany).
However in Germany no operator execpt for eplus allows prepaid subscribers onto their 4G network. Further to that eplus' 4G coverage is still insignificantly small so it does not really makes sense to buy a new phone just to have 4G coverage for a couple of minutes once a day.

4G is a really nice new technology but there is no use of the huge bandwidths from an individual subscriber's point of view because existing 3G networks already do deliver decent data rates that are sufficient for most of us. Of course if you start watching YouTube videos in HD (which makes little sense on a small handheld screen), you may hit the wall, but I still don't see any reasonable mobile application that would need more than let's say 2-3 MBit/s of bandwidth which you can already get through 3G. So while operators try to sell us 4G with 150 MBit/s and more as a beneficial and expensive feature, the real use of 4G is that it relieves capacity constraints on the network and so rather helps operators than subscribers (increased spectral efficency enables better use of assigned frequency spectrum).
An interesting article on this topic comparing European and US networks can be found at:
http://mobilesociety.typepad.com/mob...in-europe.html

4G also has a significant flaw in its inability to place simple voice calls. Because the industry couldn't agree for years how to transmit voice calls via 4G the underlying standard (VoLTE for Voice over LTE) has only been specified at a very late stage when the first 4G networks were already in operation. That is why today's 4G phones need to quickly switch back to 2G or 3G once a call comes in or you place one (called CSFB for circuit-switched fall back) and this does not always work as it should.
I for my part have opted not to buy a 4G phone before they are finally VoLTE capable and before operators have realized that they can't sell 4G at the premium they demand today.


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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