Prepaid Data Plan in Norway

netcomm_logoI purchased a Netcomm SIM with 800MB of data for $56 (USD). This is more expensive than other European countries but fast wifi connections were hard to come by in Norway. After 35 days (no video watching), I still had 100MBs of data available. I found Netcomm’s coverage to be 100% in Norway. Their network is mostly 3G, no LTE yet. In some more remote areas, the cellular network is still on the EDGE technology. Netcomm sales staff can provide any of the three SIM sizes. I was very satisfied with Netcom’s 100/200/800 prepaid data plans. To monitor your data usage reset your cellular data counter in your device’s settings>cellular data usage area.

Movistar iPhone Mexico

Note: the following iPhone information is for unlocked iPhones and the Mexican prepaid costs are all as of December 2012. I have found two decent options when traveling in Mexico with my Verizon iPhone. The first option is available as soon as you land in Mexico via a delivered text message from your carrier. You can easily purchase 100MB of data for $25, billed automatically through your Verizon account. That’s not much data for $25 (about 10 times the normal global rate for 1GB of prepaid data), but, if you are planning to only check emails during your trip it might be right for you. No SIM card modification hassles and you only have to reply “yes” to Verizon’s soliciting text message. This data offer is the same for traveling in Canada. You might want to reset your cellular data usage counter to monitor your meager 100MB allowance. If you need calling in Mexico (including calling the USA) then you can try Mexico’s discount carrier Movistar. They offer prepaid minutes at very reasonable rates. Verizon’s Mexico minutes are around $1 plus per minute, while Movistar minutes are less than 8 cents a minute (more if you call to the US). With prepaid calling you just run out of minutes, no bill surprises, and with international calling rates there are always strange extras on your monthly bill. On an average week long Mexico visit, I usually spend less than $10 per visit with Movistar. Switching over to a local Mexican carrier isn’t without challenges; including getting a Movistar SIM in your iPhone. There are now three possible SIM card sizes. If you’re lucky, the local SIM will fit your SIM slot without modification. The standard SIM card and micro SIM can be trimmed, the newest nano SIMs may need trimming and sanding to create a slimmer card.

iPhone Prepaid Canada

Two years ago prepaid iPhone options didn’t really exist for tourists traveling to Canada. In August of 2012 prepaid options for smartphones are now readily available. Roger’s Pay as you go wireless plans will cost you $35 for 100MB of data or $45 for 500MB and includes the cost of the SIM card. If you used your iPhone for limited voice or texting during your Canadian visit, those calls will be deduced from your prepaid balance. Telus is another Canadian carrier option with rumored superior coverage outside of Canadian cities. It’s has a 3-tiered prepaid wireless plan as follows: $45 for 100MB data, $60 for 500MB, and $65 for 1GB. The above amounts all include Telus’ more expensive $35 SIM card. If I was planning a longer trip to Canada, I would probably purchase the Telus prepaid plans over the Roger’s plans, as they offer more data and a better rural network. Roger’s would work for shorter trips, where you are spending most of your time in cities. These prepaid wireless plans basically work for email and limited web browsing, so you might want to reset your cellular data usage in your iPhone/iPad’s Settings>Usage>Cellular Usage to monitor your prepaid usage. Another option for US Verizon customers is buying international roaming data at $25 per 100MB from Verizon Global. This wireless option only works for data but could work for a shorter visit to an international destination. The pitfall of this option, is that Verizon has your billing information and should you use more than 100MB of data (which is not much), you are charged another $25 for each additional 100MB. The local Canadian prepaid carriers just shut you down when you burn through your prepaid credits, so using international roaming is still potentially very expensive for US Verizon customers.

Prepaid iPhone Calling in Canada

Seven Eleven in Canada now has inexpensive prepaid calling for iPhones (unlocked GSM or unlocked CDMA) with SpeakOut Wireless. The SIM card is $10, and you also buy however many minutes you need. This is a voucher receipt you get from the cashier at Seven Eleven. I bought $25 worth from the Canadian Seven Eleven store. Once you have your SpeakOut SIM and your minutes voucher, you need to activate the SIM card online at SpeakOut Wireless. At their web site; setup an account with SpeakOut, enter your iphone’s IMEI number (Settings > About) and choose your desired location for your local Canadian phone number. If the SpeakOut cellular network is not displaying in the upper left corner of your iPhone after inserting the SIM, then you might need to restart your phone a few times to get the SpeakOut network established.

Note that SpeakOut’s SIM cards do not have the extra-small micro punch-out size. So if you have a newer iphone (4/4s), you have to shave it down to the micro size.

To activate the minutes you purchased, dial *818* plus the voucher number printed on your receipt. If you need additional minutes, buy more at the Seven Eleven store.

This SpeakOut prepaid solution does allow for data, but you should probably use WIFI while traveling in Canada, so turnoff the Cellular Data setting at the Settings > General > Network.

iPhone in Mexico

Movistar Mexico in 2012 continues to be an excellent value when traveling in Mexico with an iPhone. You will need an older model jailbroken/unlocked iphone (3G, 3GS, 4) or an unlocked iPhone 4S including Verizon’s 4S iPhone. An unlocked Verizon 4S iphone comes with a Verizon SIM card which allows it to work in GSM countries. Most Verizon employees I have talked to are unclear about the iPhone 4S’s GSM capabilities. I think Verizon would prefer you use their included SIM cards internationally, but don’t, the international roaming rates are very expensive; when your Verizon iphone detects that you have arrived in Mexico, you will receive a text message from Verizon with their Mexico roaming rates: Global Data is $5.12/MB, texts are 50 cents each, and voice calls are $1 per minute. Your calls with a Movistar installed SIM are two cents a minute.

Getting a Movistar SIM card is a quick and fairly simple process but you must find a Movistar office that sells their SIM cards. All Movistar stores sell extra minutes but many of the smaller kiosks do not have SIM cards in stock. Movistar Mexico does not sell any GSM phones with the so-called micro SIM cards, though this probably will change, as most carriers are now selling the punch-out SIMs, which allows you to punch-out either the traditional or micro-sized SIM shape at purchase. This means you need to trim the traditional SIM down to the micro size. This takes some care, but not surgical skills. First time you attempt this procedure, under-trim the card initially, and if necessary, shave the card more until it just fits into its SIM slot.

A prepaid Movistar SIM card costs $12 or 170 pesos and your new account will also be credited 100 minutes. Have the Movistar sales agent activate your new SIM card with the agent’s personal phone in the store. If you need to check your Movistar balance dial *12536, you will receive a text message with your current balance. You can use cellular data with a prepaid account on Movistar’s EDGE network which is fine for email downloading, but limit your cellular data roaming. If you use WIFI for most of your heavier data needs, you can easily continue to use your iPhone in Mexico for a reasonable price.

Dial *12536 and you will receive a text message with your current balance
Dial *12536 and you will receive a text message with your current balance