Saturday, March 29, 2008

Buying a 'telefonino'

One of the essentials in Italy seems to be a cell phone. Probably even more than in the US, people walk around with a phone glued to their ears. Even the bus drivers regularly talk on the phone while driving (though they do seem to use a hands-free headset). So to have some sort of means of communication, I had to get one as well. After doing a bit of research online, and trying to figure out all of the Italian terms for 'plan' and 'recharge' and 'fees' and such, I went around to the stores of the four major providers (TIM, Vodafone, WIND, and 3) and got some brochures to compare plans. That's not so easy, since there's monthly plans and pay-as-you go plans and at least 5 different offers from each of these companies, along with many other options. While 3 seemed to have some decent priced plans, they only sold locked phones, for which you needed an Italian ID, so I ended up going with Vodafone, who had similar plans as all the others, with the added advantage of an English language website. So now I am in possession of a phone and an Italian phone number, which I will be glad to give you if you email me. But be warned -- calling cell phones here can be expensive for you, since the caller pays for all the cell phone fees (it's free for me to receive calls). In return, it's expensive for me to call anyone outside of Italy (about 70 cents/minute), so I expect to have Skype pretty soon. You can check with me about the status of that, as well.

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