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I'm going to spend 5½ months in Netherlands, and need to be able to make calls to Italy without spending a fortune.

After some hunting on Wikipedia I found that there are only three non-virtual operators in the country; I've since then started crawling the respective websites for information. Obviously, the operators all want to fish me for a 2-year subscription plan with smart phones and whatnot, while I "only" need a SIM card.

When those pages do give information about tariffs, they don't usually tell the full story either, and e.g. if I were to get tricked into getting a KPN sim card, I'd be paying €0.35/minute per national calls. You have to dig deeper to find out the plans costs €2.5/MB for data, and €1.16/minute for calls to Italy. Whoa.

On the other hand there are too-good-to-be-true offers like this one from T-Mobile, promising €0.24 (fixed cost for 30 minutes... per call? cumulative? who knows!) domestic calls plus €0.19 + €0.09/minute calls to Italy which has to have a horrible catch hidden somewhere in the small print of the Dutch-only contract.

Is there a resource that does compare mobile plans more clearly? I personally need it for the Netherlands, but if you can find a service/website/service that covers more countries, all the better! Bonus points for a site in English, but if the site makes sense through Google Translate I won't mind too much.

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You could use Skype (even for calling to a mobile phone), then your only worry is getting internet. You can get a prepaid data based sim card and try to use wifi as much as possible. BTW I have a dongle+sim card from T-Mobile to spare for you ;-) –  Ivo Flipse Aug 12 '11 at 19:30
    
Would also vote for skype; but gmail also has a feature to call international phones. Calls from a mobile to other countries are usually a rip off from my experience, no matter which provider you choose. –  iHaveacomputer Aug 13 '11 at 1:27
    
I would also look at the virtual operators - they are often the cheapest (based on experiences from countries different than the Netherlands though). –  Grzenio Aug 13 '11 at 8:56

2 Answers 2

up vote 13 down vote accepted

First off, I would use Skype, Google Voice (through GMail outside the US) or any other VOIP-like provider. They offer a tariff of ~2c/min and ~30c/min (mobile) for calling to Italian numbers. Obviously if the other person has Skype, you only pay for the internet connection. Your only problem then would be to get an affordable prepaid mobile data plan unless you can manage to only call to Italy from the University and your dorm.

Virtual providers, at least in the Netherlands, are a perfect option. Some like Ben (T-Mobile) or Hi and Telfort (KPN) are simply 'budget' brands of their subsidiary, so there's nothing wrong with them.

As for comparing mobile phone or data plans, the Dutch site comparison site to go to is bellen.com. Which is an independent site and compares all the important providers (even some of the large virtual ones). Lucky for you, they even have a page with affordable calling options to Italy. They list a range of prepaid options, where the cheapest one is 20 c/min and a couple that are slightly more expensive and also charge a starting tariff.

Another alternative is calling through 0900-numbers, which can be significantly cheaper. However, when calling them from a mobile phone, you'll be charged with the minutes you're calling and whatever the 0900-number charges. Some options would allow you to call to a mobile number in Italy for 10 minutes for only less than 1 euro.

If you need a mobile data plan (because you plan to use Skype or email) it should be possible to get a 2Gb data plan for 30 euro/month. In that case, I would either pick a very cheap prepaid number to call in the Netherlands itself and use mobile internet to connect with everyone else.

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I would recommend looking at this website. It has a list of all prepaid providers world wide

http://prepaidwithdata.wikia.com/wiki/Prepaid_SIM_with_data

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