TELEFONI AND TELEFONINI
For mobile phones and smart phones, Italy and the rest of Europe are on the GSM system. Conveniently, this is the same system used by AT&T and by T-Mobile (a German company). If you are using a phone issued by Verizon or Sprint, which use the more North American CDMA, you’ll need to make sure you have a phone that is GSM-ready. (Verizon will send you a loaner for a trip to Europe, if not.)
Roaming charges can be absolutely exorbitant, so unless you have a very good international plan with your carrier, the best solution is to buy an Italian SIM card and replace the one in your phone. At press time, only certain phones and handheld devices allowed that capability, and only certain carriers allowed you to unlock your phone. Be sure to check with you carrier about the fine print. I can tell you from experience that Verizon, for example, made it extremely difficult for me to unlock one of their iPhones, even though that capability was promised up front. I suspect this will be made much easier in the future.
A gondolier in Venice checks his mobile phone. To sign up for a cell phone number”this requires a copy of your passport, for security reasons” you first need to choose a company. There are four national carriers: Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) Vodafone Wind Three You should wait until you know which company most of your friends are using before declaring your own brand loyalty. This will save you money. If you are a Vodafone customer, for example, it is cheaper to call another Vodafone customer than it is to contact a TIM, Wind, or Three user.
PER-MINUTE COST FOR CALLS FROM LANDLINES AND MOBILE PHONES NATIONAL CALLS FROM A LANDLINE Local: ‚0.02 per minute Within 15 km: ‚0.06 per minute Beyond 15 km: ‚0.11 per minute CALLING FROM MOBILE PHONES TIM customers: ‚0.12 per minute Vodafone customers: ‚0.15 per minute Wind customers: ‚0.19 per minute Three customers: ‚0.10 per minute INTERNATIONAL CALLS FROM A LANDLINE Western Europe: ‚0.18 per minute, about ‚0.40 for cell phones U.S. and Canada: ‚0.18 per minute, about ‚0.50 for cell phones Mexico and South America: ‚1 per minute, including cell phones You also need to decide between a contract and a pay-as-you-go arrangement. In the first case, you’ll pay a base rate every month. As a pay-as-you-go customer, which is most common for transient types, you can buy credit at the local bar, newsstand, tobacconist, etc. Dial in the code anytime you want to boost your minutes. The latter is a slightly more expensive option per minute but offers much more flexibility. Companies offer various discount programs, so do some homework on the services before signing up. For example, there are programs that give you discounts on calling a certain number most of the time. To compare rates and services, visit www.tim.it, www.vodafone.com, www.wind.it, and www.three.com. Each site has a version in English.
Source: Travels Finders