Using a GSM phone abroad can be a costly business, but
with some thought you can keep it to a minimum.
GPRS is of course charged per data byte rather than per minute, although there is usually a minimum charge
equivalent to about 100kb. Telcos seem to go out of their way to make charges as opaque as possible, but in the last couple
of years, the wide use of camera phones, which of course use GPRS, has stabilised charges somewhat.
Unlike when we first went, for data in Sweden you will now be best off by using a local Pay-as-you-go phone
rather than your UK phone. Local contract phones offer the best deal, but you have to sign up for a year, and have a local
bank account and address, so its not normally viable.
The best way to do this now is buy a 'SIM-only' package in a shop in Sweden. Vodafone Sweden's package costs
95 SEK (about £7), which includes 20 SEK's worth of calls, and can be 'topped up' at Vodafone shops and tobaconists.
There is no monthly fee, but you must top it up at least once in 12 months for it to stay 'alive'. The other networks offer
You'll need a handset, which means swapping the SIM card if you use your UK phone. A better way to get a handset
is to get your UK phone upgraded before you leave. This is usually free, gets you the latest gadget, and you can retain your
old handset for use on the boat.
Many UK handsets are 'locked' to the network, and you will need to unlock them first. Your network will charge
you about £30 to do this, but many local phone shops will carry out the job for about £10, or you can do it yourself
over the Internet. (Nokia owners can do it for free by carrying out the instructions on unlock.nokiafree.org).
The phone will also need a new 'data account profile' to access the Swedish services, but the network will send you this via
SMS if you ring them on 220 when in Sweden. You might need some trial and error to get things to work, particularly if you
are reusing an old phone, but its worth persevering. (Note : To access GPRS from a PC, you'll need the Swedish 'Internet' profile,
not the 'Vodafone Live' profile).
Vodafone PAYG charges in Sweden are currently 20 SEK (about £1.50) a megabyte. This may seem epxensive,
but compares with using a UK Contract phone in Sweden which works out about £7.50 a megabyte (Anytime 200 account). For
making ordinary voice phone calls, there is little difference. Charges seem to be similar from both the local phone and a UK
phone, being about 60p a minute.
If you are not travelling through or within Sweden, then you may be stuck with your UK phone, and its charges.
(We'll update this page with info on Denmark shortly) Nowadays, we either divert our UK number to our Swedish number, or just
keep both phones 'live' on the boat, using the local one for Internet access. Depsite extensive use of the net, our phone bills
have never exceeded £100 in any month. To keep costs to a minimum, here's a few tips:
- Dont bother with a UK tariff which has bundled megabytes. They don't count abroad. Make sure you have 'International
Call Saver' enabled if it is offered.
- Set up Outlook Express rules to ignore large emails, attachments, and Spam.
- Set up OE to only check mail on demand, not automatically.
- Make sure no background programs are accessing the net while you are connected.
- Set your web browser to ignore pictures.