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Old 27-10-2017, 22:00   #1
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Mobile Phone Plans

Hi Forumites,

We are getting closer to the pointy end of our lifestyle change of becoming liveaboards in the Med and have spent many hours looking around the Internet at "international sim cards", "roaming charges", "charges for incoming sms and phone calls" and everything in between.

There appear to be many options for the 2 week traveler, but very little catering towards the long term European roamer.

The current best option we can see is Go-Sim International Sim card, so would like to get some feedback from anyone who has experience with that.

Ideally we would like to have a continuous single mobile number, so that family and friends can phone or sms us and for two factor sms security texts as needed for banking etc.

Data is not a priority here as we will have a mobile hot spot device with a separate sim plan just for data.

I should point out that we are Australian residents.

Looking fwd to your replies and insights.
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Old 27-10-2017, 22:12   #2
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Re: Mobile Phone Plans

T-Mobile unlimited international package cancelled my cell phone service after five months in the Med, but the iPad cellular data on the same account continued to work all six months. The data speed is very slow at around .22mbps at best, enough for email, data calls and weather, but nowhere near enough for video.
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Old 27-10-2017, 22:20   #3
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Re: Mobile Phone Plans

Kenomac, we are Australian and I think (I may be wrong) that T mobile is only available to US residents.

We were also looking at Google fi, but it seems we need a US address.
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Old 27-10-2017, 22:43   #4
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Re: Mobile Phone Plans

Another front running option is Travel Sim https://www.travelsim.net.au/

Has anyone had any dealings with these guys?
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Old 28-10-2017, 05:46   #5
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Re: Mobile Phone Plans

I'd chosen T-Mobile because Telekom (T-Mobile) is a German company very common throughout Europe, thinking things would be made easier. Their American division then cancelled my service for roaming to much near the "Motherland." The European T-Mobile stores were unable or unwilling to help in any way when I encountered some issues (major issues) with the plan.
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Old 28-10-2017, 06:30   #6
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Re: Mobile Phone Plans

You should read up on the details of the roaming charge ban which came into effect in Europe in June.

It's not total -- with lots of fine print -- but it's bloody good, and it means that you can do a lot with a prepaid SIM card now, which was expensive before.

So for most people, the best thing is to use local prepaid SIM cards which with some limitations are now usable everywhere in Europe at domestic rates, and using whatever minutes and data package you purchased. In many European countries, especially in Northern Europe, you can have data for around a euro per gigabyte, sometimes a few euros, sometimes less than a euro, and since June you have the right to use your data package -- with some limitations -- anywhere in Europe.

A funny effect of the roaming regulations is that in most cases, ALL international calls to other EU countries are charged as domestic calls -- IF you're roaming, even though you would pay international rates if you were at home.

I think the tourist roaming SIM cards are now obsolete -- I don't see any good reason to use them other than having a single telephone number, but now that you can port a prepaid SIM from one EU country to other EU countries, that's already less important; besides that there are lots of ways to set up VOIP DID numbers in your home country which will forward your calls to various numbers -- and your people at home pay domestic rates to call you.

If you're really concerned about being reachable by telephone (many people no longer care; email is the first line of reachability), then you can buy a dual SIM card phone and keep your home SIM card in one of the slots, so people can call you on that.

Skype is another good way to be reachable, and besides Skype-to-Skype calling, I used to use their VOIP phone service a lot, but I've gotten a little tired of how expensive it is compared to other VOIP solutions. Lately I've been using WhatsApp and Telegram with very good results.

I do use a dual SIM phone and I try to always be reachable on my UK phone, although I use various other ones depending on where I am. I do that only because I'm working, and some people haven't gotten used to telephone calls not being the way you try to reach someone urgently, and so they get nervous if you're not reachable somehow by phone. I hardly ever call anyone myself, anymore, except for pre-arranged video calls or pre-arranged conference calls. I think emailing someone is a more polite way to initiate some kind of communication, because you're not demanding that they drop everything like you do when you call -- they can read your email when they actually have a second. If for some reason a voice or video call really is the preferable way to communicate, I prefer to arrange it in advance in order not to disrupt people's lives and work process.

If I were on a long cruise far away from home, I would write to all of my friends and family and ask them to contact me by email if they want to talk, then we'll have a Skype call. So then you really don't need a telephone at all, other than for making local calls wherever you happen to be. Lot cheaper and a lot more efficient.
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Old 28-10-2017, 18:42   #7
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Re: Mobile Phone Plans

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJ-SeaChange View Post
Hi Forumites,

We are getting closer to the pointy end of our lifestyle change of becoming liveaboards in the Med and have spent many hours looking around the Internet at "international sim cards", "roaming charges", "charges for incoming sms and phone calls" and everything in between.

There appear to be many options for the 2 week traveler, but very little catering towards the long term European roamer.

The current best option we can see is Go-Sim International Sim card, so would like to get some feedback from anyone who has experience with that.

Ideally we would like to have a continuous single mobile number, so that family and friends can phone or sms us and for two factor sms security texts as needed for banking etc.

Data is not a priority here as we will have a mobile hot spot device with a separate sim plan just for data.

I should point out that we are Australian residents.

Looking fwd to your replies and insights.
I use a secure token provided by an Australian bank so I can still do banking overseas without needing to keep the same number. It is more secure anyway as too many people have had their phone numbers ported by scammers who then use the sms verification on another phone.
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Old 30-10-2017, 13:48   #8
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Re: Mobile Phone Plans

Authy is far more secure than SMS 2FA if given the option FYI.

Refilling any/all SIM accounts is a breeze if you carry some bitcoin on a phone wallet with bitrefill.com
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Old 30-10-2017, 14:52   #9
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Re: Mobile Phone Plans

+1 on roaming charges ban in Europe.

Check out free.fr. This French operator is killing the market. From memory: for around 25 euro a month you get unlimitted calling and texting, and 25 GB of data in all of Europe. No need for an extra hotspot with its own sim anymore, just turn your phone into one.

Of course if you then spend some time outside of Europe, which realistically is now just Turkey for most people since the Arab Springs, you may have to temporarily get another sim to keep it cost effective.
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Old 30-10-2017, 15:46   #10
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Re: Mobile Phone Plans

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Originally Posted by 2big2small View Post
+1 on roaming charges ban in Europe.

Check out free.fr. This French operator is killing the market. From memory: for around 25 euro a month you get unlimitted calling and texting, and 25 GB of data in all of Europe. No need for an extra hotspot with its own sim anymore, just turn your phone into one.

Of course if you then spend some time outside of Europe, which realistically is now just Turkey for most people since the Arab Springs, you may have to temporarily get another sim to keep it cost effective.
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Do you need a French address for that? That's crazy.

And it's not 25 euros, it's 19.99!

Unlimited phone calls to almost anywhere -- including the U.S.!


There must be fair use for months outside of France, though, no?
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Old 30-10-2017, 17:00   #11
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Re: Mobile Phone Plans

The numbers I gave are for use anywhere in the EU to the best of my knowledge, and usually that means no usage at all outside of it or else your credits melting away like snow in hell. (Except for those other places they mention.)

Should you need a French address then you just provide some marina address even if you have no plans to dock there for long—or at all, that’s what we usually end up doing for all our administrative needs of no real importance.

Even when the vendor asks for proof of you actually living there, such as an utilities bill in your name, then you show them a marina bill with electricity and water included and they always just take it.

For those who’d only want data in the EU, spunky.es has 30GB for about 25 euros a month—followed by throttled speed that still works well enough for e-mail should you use it all up. That’s what I’ve been using for the past year.
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Old 30-10-2017, 19:42   #12
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Re: Mobile Phone Plans

I talk to a buddy in Taiwan every week. Sounds like he's next door. Using his phone and Google something. No SIM, no nonsense, just modern tech used correctly.
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Old 30-10-2017, 23:12   #13
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Re: Mobile Phone Plans

We are currently in Marmaris refitting, we have lived in the Mediterranean for the last three years. And crossed the Pacific 2011-2013, we carry dual sim phones, and always use the local carrier. Our current location in Marmaris, on the border between Greece and Turkey allows us to choose which cell service to tie into when we are coastal cruising. We also use a data sim in a Huawei router to bridge our boat LAN to the local 4G. Did we look into the "World Sim" style services, yes. But found them a bit "busy" to make calls with. Dialing access codes and such. So we let that service fall. We have not had any issues finding local sims to support our digital connections, Oz, NZ, Fiji, Tonga, FP, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Cyprus, Greece, or Turkey. Ironically the most painful experience was in North America where the nice people at the phone store could not understand why we did not have "existing phone service" and practically refused to sell me a prepaid data sim...... get a dual sim phone, a Cube, and go surfing. 15GB of data here in Turkey on Turkcell is 21 USD at 4G and supports streaming of Netflix......Cheers
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Old 31-10-2017, 14:43   #14
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Re: Mobile Phone Plans

Thank you for all the replies, some really helpful information here.

I especially like the look of spunky.es for data only, as Spain will be our base while we find the right boat.
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Old 31-10-2017, 14:54   #15
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Re: Mobile Phone Plans

Just wondering if/to what extent some of these French deals would extend to the Carribean where some islands are part of France?
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