|Subject: Re: Renting a Cell phone in Europe|
The best deal of all is to use a GSM service here in the US and get
the Ericsson WorldPhone (T-28) or the Nokia equivalent. They work
everywhere in the world by supporting all frequencies. This is a
great light-weigh small phone with great battery life.
This phone will work on your regular phone number in Italy ñ or anywhere in the world, as the name implies. But forget it! The roaming charges are totally usurious. In Italy, however, you can go to Omnitel and register as a user. It'll cost L 50,000 to activate, and you must show your passport. You need to do this at an Omnitel dealer. Pretty easy to find in a major city. This DOES NOT work with TIM. They can only register Italian citizens. After you are activated, you buy prepaid cards. Lt 100,000 is the most economical size, but Lt 50,000 are good too. You can buy the prepaid cards at thousands of places with the Omnitel logo on the door, tobacco shops, bars, etc. In Italy prepaid cards are by the preferred method of billing on cellular, because they are so much more economical. Calls are amazingly inexpensive: no charge for incoming. All calls, within Italy or to the US or wherever are billed at the same rate and it is only pennies per min.
Here are some details to watch for: If you get the Ericsson phone, you must have it unlocked for use in Europe. Your carrier can do this, but it takes almost 2 weeks so allow time. It is locked because the phones cost about $100 here through your carrier and are 2.5 times that in Europe and people were coming here and signing-up for service to get the phone and the disappearing back to Europe with the phone. You should also have international roaming activated just in case you want to use it.
I did this on my last trip to Italy and will be able to switch in my Omnitel activated SIM card when I return in November.