v6.2.3 - moving along, a point increase at a time

Wind GR & Wind IT: Pre-paid SIM review

Wind Italy account notification after call
So this is my last note on this summer's trip (at least for now).  Last time I vacationed and needed a pre-paid SIM I was in France.  This time, I ended up with one SIM card in Greece and another in Italy.  Based on the recommendations of friends I ended up getting a Wind SIM in Greece, and a Wind SIM in Italy which seemed like the better deals.  Trying to compare information on company websites for pre-paid packages (at least as far as mobile data costs go) is like trying to figure out high level math.  The information there is just confusing.  Thankfully I know a few people online who live, or vacation, at these places so I got some good recommendations.

Wind Greece
Getting a Wind SIM in Greece was fairly easy.  I really wanted to go into a telecom store at the airport and get a SIM right away, but I couldn't really find a store at the day and time I arrived. The Germanos store also only sells Cosmote Service, so I guess it wouldn't have helped anyway.  Next day I went to a Wind store, picked up my own number, and activated my SIM.  I just needed to show an ID card to have my SIM activated.  Since I speak Greek this wasn't a problem.

The SIM was active immediately, in that I walked out of the store and I was able to make calls.  The account acts as a regular free2go pre-paid account, so don't do anything before you activate any packages because you will be paying through the nose!  For example, you can activate a pre-paid package for 200 minutes (to any network or landline in Greece) for €5.  You can activate 500MB of internet for another €5, and you can activate a package of 100 (outgoing) SMS messages for another €5.  Thus for €15 you are set.  But wait! There's more!

If you activate these from a store, or from the touch-tone system that you dial into, you get the basic packages (200 minutes, 500MB, 100 SMS).  However, if you create an account on free2go, you can get bonus minutes, megabytes and SMS when you are activating your package.  Thus, for €5 I ended up getting 1GB of data on my smartphone. For €5 I got 300 minutes, and for another €5 I got 20 extra SMS. o all things total, I got 100 extra talk time, 500 extra MB, and 20 extra SMS for the same price.  You can activate the internet package up to 5 times in a calendar month (so, if you play your cards right €25 will get you 5GB of data).

Wind was pretty good, and had pretty good coverage all over the parts of Greece that we visited.  The main issue is that not all places (it seems to be a problem with all carriers) have 3G coverage.  Major cities are good, but as soon as go out to the villages (including mine which was 5 kilometers from the city), you may be down to EDGE, or (gasp) GPRS!  This wasn't cool. Luckily, for the most part we were in 3G areas.

Unlike last time I was in Greece, I realized that my pre-paid SIM from Greece does not automatically roam.  Bummer, but I ended up using all my credit anyway, so it wasn't a big deal.  All things considered, the Wind free2go prepaid service was pretty awesome.  If you use it, just remember to make an account on and check your account frequently :)

Wind Italy
Italy was pretty interesting.  In order to sign up for a pre-paid account you need a codice fiscale which is sort of like your social security number.  The problem is that the system seems inflexible because there are tourists that go to Italy, who want to have pre-paid service while they are there, but have no codice fiscale. That said, there are website generators that use the same (supposedly) code as the Italian government does, so you can obtain your number, even if it's not registered anywhere.  The Wind store that I went to was more by the book, and they didn't but they seemed to skirt the codice fiscale rule and were able to issue me a SIM with just my passport.

The SIM card itself cost €20, and it came pre-loaded with €20 worth of credit (so the SIM card didn't cost anything, but there was a compulsory minimum cost).  Not a problem.  The Mobile Web cost €10 per month and it got you 1GB.  The cost seems comparable to what you get with Wind in Greece if you don't get the promotional bonuses that we got while we were there.  Since we were in Italy only for two weeks, and my battery kept running out on my Nexus, I didn't use the entire gigabyte, but I came pretty close I think, at least based on my Nexus' accounting. I won't know exactly how close because the Wind App for my phone needed a codice fiscale to create an account (fail!).

Wind's coverage in Italy was really good. In all places that we went we had 3G coverage, so no complaints there.  Looking at the android marketplace there weren't many Wind apps (like Wind radio or whatnot that WInd Greece had) but that's OK. I just wish the Wind "my account" app was much more useful in that it did not require a fiscal code to create an account.

The thing that I really liked about the default behavior of calls on this pre-paid service was that at the end it sent some sort of network code when the call was terminated.  This code (invisible to the end user) gave you information about your call duration and how much money was left in your account (also, I think, how much your call cost).  This was pretty nifty!  It would be nice to have this in all pre-paid systems :)

Just like in Greece, the validity of a pre-paid is one year, so if we were to go back to Italy next year, I'd be able to use the  same number!

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