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Communications for Expats in Italy

Submitted: March 2014

Living in today’s world, even for a few days, without an Internet connection can seem like a nightmare for many. Undoubtedly setting up mobile/ internet service would be on the top of any expat’s agenda. In order to choose the plan that best suits you, it is important to consider your needs ahead of time

 

Mobile Service

It is possible to use your own mobile phone in Italy provided that it is an unlocked GSM phone that supports the GSM 900 and GSM 1800 frequencies. If you are not certain that your phone will be compatible with an Italian network then it is advisable that you ask your mobile service provider at home prior to your departure. Upon arrival you can purchase a SIM card at any mobile phone shop. You will need ID in order to purchase one. Depending on your usage and length of stay you will need to decide whether you would like a pay as you go service or a contract. The two major mobile networks in Italy are the TIM network and Vodafone. Some locals prefer the TIM network because it provides better coverage. If you have a good command of Italian then you can visit the following providers’ website for further information:

https://www.tim.it/home

https://www.vodafone.it/portal/Privati

https://www.wind.it/it/privati/#prettyPhoto

Before choosing a mobile phone contract, there are certain considerations to be borne in mind:

  • How long is the mobile service contract? Is there an associated cost with terminating the contract prematurely?
  • Does the contract cover all your needs or will you have to pay extra for additional services such as international calls?
  • Is there a money-saving bundle service option that includes mobile, landline and Internet service?
  • Are there special discounts for calling people with the same service provider or at a particular time?

 

Internet

Broadband in Italy is referred to as either banda larga or ADSL. The type of Internet service you get largely depends on the area. Dial-up might be the only option in remote rural areas. Telecom Italia (Alice) is the most popular however there are other service providers to choose from such as Libero, Tiscali and Uno.  Their websites are all in Italian

It may take a while before you set up your Internet service at home so before you leave for Italy, research areas that provide free wifi access.  The Website https://cafe.ecs.net/index_en.html provides a list of public areas that provide wifi.

When choosing an Internet provider, ensure that you understand all the charges that you may incur when setting up the service. If you have already planned your accommodation then it is worth finding out what service the previous tenants used so that you can carry on the service without the hassle of setting it up “from scratch”. If you are renting then find out whether Internet access is included in the cost.

 

Postal Service

The main Post offices are open Monday to Saturday from 08:15 to 19:00 while smaller post offices open from 08:15 to 13:30

Sending and receiving post is relatively easy however the Italian postal service queues are notoriously long since people go to post offices to pay bills. To limit your time spent at the post office it is always advisable to purchase your stamps beforehand at a Tabacchi (tobacco shop).

 

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