Mobile phones in Italy

I have understood from a previous post that Wendy travels without a mobile phone, and hence have limited internet access. Here is how you get a mobile phone with internet access in Italy.

There are three mobile phone operators in Italy: TIM (Telecom Italia Mobile), Wind and Vodafone.

TIM has a red/blue logo, Wind is orange and Vodafone is red/white. They have affiliated shops all over, also in smaller towns. It should be easy to find a shop for one of them.

In the shop (there will likely be at least one person who speaks English or French) ask for a cheap mobile phone (telefonino economico) with a prepaid contract (prepagato) and internet access (accesso internet).

Un telefonino economico, prepagato con accesso internet.

Internet access can be with GPRS, EDGE or UTMS. The phone must have support for Bluetooth, but I guess all have by now.

They will ask for a document of identity, for example a passport. In some cases they will also ask for an address, where I have just given the address of a friend. They won’t send anything to the address anyway.

I don’t know how much the phone itself will cost, since I had an unlocked GSM phone with me to Italy, but phones aren’t that expensive anymore. My guess is that it should be possible to find a usable phone for €100.

The prepaid account costs €10 of which €5 are for talking.

Activating a new SIM card can sometimes take a while, so be prepared to wait for a couple of hours at this point, until the phone gets a signal when turned on. When the phone is connected, return to the shop.

Internet access requires a configuration on the phone to work. The people in the shop will do that if asked. It only takes a minute or two.

Mi serve la configurazione per l’accesso al Internet, per favore.

At this point the phone should be ready to go.

Internet access with the mobile network can be expensive in Italy, but there is a plethora of ever changing discounts, offers, incentives and so on. It should be possible to get a “100MB for €20” deal or something similar. It depends on the operator.

The Nokia Nseries N800 Internet Tablet

For use with the Nokia Nseries N800 Internet Tablet a few steps are needed to get the tablet on the Internet through the phone.

As I have managed to fry the charging circuits on my own Internet Tablet, I cannot check the correctness of the description below. It is written from memory, so please excuse me if there are inaccuracies.

On the tablet, open the Connection Manager. It is in the “Applications” menu (third from the top on the left) select “Tools” and “Connection Manager”.

In the menu of the Connection Manager (menu at the top of the display) select “Phones” and a new window should appear. Click the “New” button and let the tablet find the phone. Don’t forget to enable Bluetooth on the phone first, or it won’t be found. Once the phone is found, select it and follow the instructions to connect the two devices. It will involve entering a numeric code on one device and then the same code on the other device. Its a one time thing so I haven’t done it all that often.

Once the phone and the tablet are connected (or paired as it is called), an internet connection can be set up through the phone.

Still in the Connection Manager, select “Connections” from the menu (it might be on a sub-menu, I’m not sure) and click “New”. Follow the instructions. The tablet should ask a series of questions about the connection, the phone and the operator. The connection is a “Packet data” connection, and it should be associated with the phone. The tablet will then ask about country, operator and such. When that is done, the tablet should be able to access the internet using the mobile phone.

That should (hopefully if my memory has served me well) suffice to get back in Beach Blogging mode.

The Nokia Nseries N800 Internet Tablet isn’t a very common device yet, so it is unlikely the local mobile phone shop will be able to help with the setup, but it doesn’t hurt asking.

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