International roaming packages for iPhones

Discussion in 'Travel Technology' started by Punki, Jun 3, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    We typically just keep our data roaming turned off and don't bother with any type of international roaming package when we traqvel because we almost always stay at Starwood properties and get free internet. In July, however, we will be taking a two-week cruise in the Mediterranean, followed by a visit to Croatia, and think it might be smart to have some sort of international package to stay in touch with our office.

    We will have 300 free minutes of internet while actually on the ship, but will need some sort of connectivity while we are in the various ports, and wandering around Croatia visiting Joe's long-lost cousins.

    What is the best package to purchase for this temporary type of situation, and how would that package work? Also, what sort of pitfalls do we need to consider? I have heard horror stories of people getting crazy huge bills for international roaming.

    OBTW, we use AT&T,

    Thanks in advance for your assistance, Punki
     
  2. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    The prices are so ridiculous that it's hard to justify, but if you're careful and make sure you don't have unintentional use -- disable automatic email checking, etc. -- you can try to mitigate some of the costs.

    With an AT&T iPhone all you have to do is call 611 and have them add international roaming to your account. They can do this at any time and you don't have to wait for the start/end of a cycle for it to be activated. The rates in Croatia are $2.29 per minute for voice, 50 cents per SMS and $1.30 per MMS.

    Data is billed on a per-use basis at a rate of $.0195 per Kilobyte, which can get expensive really really fast if you don't show some discipline. :)

    But you can get slightly better rates if you activate one of their World Traveller packages, depending on how much you're planning to use your phone and for what. The voice package for an iPhone is $5.99 a month and lowers the rate to $1.99 per minute for voice.

    The international data package under World Traveller costs $25 for 20MB, $60 for $50MB, $120 for 100MB and $200 for 200MB of data transfer. Overages are billed at $0.005 per Kilobyte.

    http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/international/roaming/affordable-world-packages.jsp
     
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  3. Punki
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    Punki Silver Member

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    Maybe at those rates it just makes more sense to buy additional ship minutes. I think we can do that for about $.25 a minute when we first long on--of course it is ridiculously slow. We also enjoy checking out crew lounges in port. They can be really interesting and usually run about $4.00 per hour for internet services. Even less or even sometimes free if you bring your own laptop.

    What is the story with buying a pre-paid phone in Croatia?
     
  4. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    AT&T, that URL is insulting the intelligence of your customers. Affordable?

    How about offering your customers the same deal companies can negotiate. My iPhone has a corporate plan with a $20 monthly add-on fee for UNLIMITED international data roaming. Tells you how huge the profit margin is on data roaming as offered on that page.
     
  5. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Punki,

    I know some folks at work who may be able to answer your Croatia question -- I'll ask at work on Monday. When people ask, I always recommend getting and unlocked phone to bring to Europe (that charges on 110v and 220v) and then get a local SIM to communicate...MUCH cheaper in most cases.

    On another note, my sister bought an unlocked mobile phone on eBay then purchased a SIM here in the UK that works all over the world for a pretty cheap rate...

    Croatian Traveller on Mobile Phones in Croatia

    I've heard great things about Croatia!

    :)robin
     
  6. Punki, we travel to both Italy and the UK on a regular basis and we have an unlocked phone with sim cards for each country. Usually local numbers come with unlimited free incoming calls and you pay something like 10/20 cents a minute for outgoing ones. What we do is, as soon as we get the new number, email everyone who needs it.

    Data rates vary and like you we only use data when in wifi areas of which there are many in Europe, although not as many as in NA. The other approach for data is to buy an internet stick for about $30/40 which gives you pretty much unlimited data while on a short trip.
    These costs all depend on your usage while there.
     
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  7. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    I agree with the "don't use US companies for local cells" sentiment. Unlocked cheap phone + local SIM for cash all the way.
     
  8. Falcon View
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    Falcon View Silver Member

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    I've used Telestial pre-paid for years with no complaints. http://www.telestial.com/ Airtime for Europe, including Croatia, is $.39 a minute on the passport plus plan. They have phones with $10.00 free airtime for $89.00, or you can just purchase a sim card to use in an unlocked phone.
     
  9. Bluto
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    Bluto Silver Member

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    If you're going to bring your iPhone and you will have access to WiFi then you could also download apps like Skype and Whistle. The latter allows free calls to North American numbers even while overseas. You can load some credits onto Skype to make cheap calls over WiFi from your iphone to international numbers. Of course, you won't be able to make or receive calls when you're not on WiFi but I find this to be sufficient when I am traveling overseas and just need to check in on voicemails and return a few calls.
     
  10. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    As far as I know, only calls to toll free numbers are free (and skype-to-Skype, of course). Calling land lines or mobile numbers costs $ (2.3 cents/min + connection fee, I believe)
     
  11. That is correct. One must have a prepaid plan set up with Skype. I also don't find the Skype signal that reliable in public wifi spots for whatever reason.
    In terms of Skype I also have a plan (Canadian resident) that allows me unlimited land and cell phone calls anywhere in NA. That plan works whether or not I am in Canada or China or wherever.
     
  12. Bluto
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    Bluto Silver Member

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    That is true for Skype but if you read my sentence in the post above, you'll see that I was saying that on Whistle, calls to any North American number are free (not just toll free numbers). Download the app. It is free and it is pretty decent. I still use Skype to supplement Whistle when I need to make calls to non-North American numbers.
     
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  13. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Sorry, skipped over/missed "the latter" -- don't know anything about Whistle, but will check it out. Thanks!
     
  14. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Punki,

    The all recommend getting an unlocked phone and buying a local SIM.

    :)robin
     
  15. Tivoboy
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    Tivoboy Milepoint Guide

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    yeah, the free month plan with skype is 2.95$ for unlimited to USA numbers, any numbers. After than, one can call int'l numbers for between about .01 and .50$ a minute depending, but most are about .05$. Have to add some value to do this, the one month plan can be just paid once and done.

    I just add the monthly plan to my skype account when I leave the country, and use it to make all my calls. Requires WIFI though mostly or a data plan in country.

    As for int'l sims, I use a couple, the searoam sims are pretty cheap for most places, but croatia seems to be spendy. you might be best with a local sim if you can find it, or just use wifi on your iphone. you can also use SMS on your iphone to have people call you for example at a designated number and you can SMS out for only .50$. Cellular data does NOT need to be on for this. The phone does though and if calls come in, then boom you are charged a round trip. I just forward my phone to my google voice number when I get on the outbound plane. I get an email or even an SMS with the transript of the call.

    For 10$ AT&T will give you 50 int'l texts, (so it brings to the rate down to .20$ each) so you can freely text to friends and family back in the USA. Again, all inbound texts are taken off any text plan you already have
     
  16. Tivoboy
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    Tivoboy Milepoint Guide

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    I hate to say it, but you can get a MUCH CHEAPER card for croatia at the t-mobile in croatia. Cards were 10$, WITH credit on them and for another 10$ I got 500MB data, 100 SMS and 100 minutes calling. Yes, I had to walk in to a croatian t-mobile store, but it took about seven minutes to get the card and it was active five minutes later. I used it mostly for Skyping back to the usa for the 2.95$ monthly skype fee. Worked pretty much everywhere.
     
  17. joesmoe
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    joesmoe Gold Member

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    Be very careful on ships, sometimes the FemToCell towers that broadcast a local satellite based cell signal on the boat are not included in packages (be it unlimited or discount), and can be $5+/minute, and extremely expensive for data as well.

    I know this from personal experience.
     
  18. man on the move.

    man on the move. Silver Member

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    i just get a local sim where i am and stick it in my 3g that is jail broke... it is almost worth it to get a unlocked phone for travel, if you travel enough.
     
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  19. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I use only unlocked phones. I usually buy local sims (I have seven of them now) but sometimes roam from my Brazil Vivo account which has cheaper roaming than does the US ones. Italy sims often have good rates for Croatia.
    BTW, virtually all mobile phone chargers today are good for 100-240V, with only plug adapters.
     
  20. Dangjr213

    Dangjr213 Gold Member

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    $.0195 per Kb is just nuts! I forgot to turn my data roaming off on my last cruise. Kept my phone off very day except for one when I decided to lay out on the deck and listen to my iPod. As soon as I turned it on all of my emails/texts/VMs/app alerts started to come through. $95 worth of data

    I find the ship phones to be more reasonable than AT&T's price per min, however I haven't done a Mediterranean cruise so I'm not sure if the prices are any different
     

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