On my vacation in Spain last week I used a prepaid SIM from a new operator called Yoigo to keep up with the mobile web. Yoigo is a 3G operator with attractive rates for both voice and data. Voice calls are € 0.12/minute within Spain to both landline and mobile numbers and international calls are € 0.30/minute to anywhere except Cuba, Somalia and North Korea. Best of all data, both WAP and web, is € 0.0012/KB and data charges are capped at € 1.20/per day no matter how much you use. There is also a € 6.00/month minimum charge.
I bought my Yoigo prepaid SIM on Ebay in advance from seller xortex. I recommend this seller who was helpful and responded quickly to questions I asked both before and after the sale. The Buy It Now price was € 14.90 and shipping was € 3.90. The shipping took two weeks which was OK as I ordered a month before my departure. At my request the seller activated it for voice and data. The SIM comes with € 20.00 credit which I used less than half of in a week of fairly heavy surfing.
It was great to land in Spain with a working mobile. On my last trip to France I spent a whole day wandering around Paris from one mobile shop to another before I found one who would actually sell me a prepaid SIM. I don’t have a European 3G phone so I used an old Nokia 3650. Yoigo’s network is 3G only but roams on Vodafone for voice and GPRS data with no extra roaming charges.
So how was the Yoigo experience? It wasn’t perfect but it’s certainly the best deal for short term travelers to Spain. The Vodafone coverage in and around Barcelona was extremely good. Except for a few times deep inside large buildings I was never out of coverage. The GPRS worked perfectly with the phone’s built in browser. It also worked, but not quite as well, with most of my third party Java and native applications including Opera Mini, Google Maps, WorldMate and the Doris browser.
For some reason both Netfront and Opera Mobile could not connect to any sites even though they were using the same access point and settings as the other apps. I tried lots of alternate settings (with and without the Yoigo proxy and/or wap gateway) but never got those two applications to work. More annoying was a strange feature of the Yogo/Vodafone network that insisted on sending me “Service Reply” messages every minute or so with my current usage and balance whenever I used GPRS with anything except the built in browser. With all the third party apps, as soon as a page load or download was completed, the connection was dropped and I got a “Service Reply” popup message to the effect that my last session had cost say € 0.008 and my balance was now € 16.87. I had set the phone to use GPRS “when available” which on T-Mobile US keeps the GPRS connection up until I close application. I also turned off both Service Messages and Cell Broadcasts but I still got those Service Reply usage messages. It was more of an annoyance than a real impediment to browsing and I still used Opera Mini for most of my browsing. There is probably some way to turn off the messages. My Spanish is non-existent so I didn’t try contacting customer support. Browsing speed was typical GPRS, slow but no better or worse than on T-Mobile.
The seller had also told me that international roaming was enabled but was unable to roam with the Yoigo SIM either in the US or at Amsterdam’s Schiphol where I changed planes. I wasn’t surprised, international roaming on European prepaids usually requires a local bank account and often a waiting period as well.
For anyone else who might want to try this – here are the settings I used to enable data on the Nokia 3650. Other phones should be similar.
First I created a new access point and named it Yoigo, then set the following:
- Data bearer: GPRS
- Access point name: Internet
- User Name: None
- Prompt Password: No
- Password: Leave blank (shows as ****)
- Authentication: Normal
- Gateway IP address: 10.8.0.36
- Homepage: http://movil.yoigo.es
- Connection security: Off
- Session Mode: Permanent
Then under Advanced Settings (hit the menu softkey from the access point setup screen to find these):
- Phone IP address: Dynamic
- Primary name server: 0.0.0.0
- Second. name server: 0.0.0.0
- Server address: 010.008.000.036
- Port Number: 8080
This Spanish blog page has settings for more phones. Even tethering is possible according to a couple of posts. Supposedly, Yoigo will send the settings to your phone if you SMS the word TODAS to 500. I tried it and got an SMS back saying my phone could not accept the settings. Strange, as I successfully received settings from other carriers with this phone.
Warts and all, I think Yoigo is an excellent choice for anyone traveling to Spain. The low price and high balance of the SIM along with the low voice and data rates mean that for about $25 you can talk and surf with abandon for a week or two before you even need to refill. Sure beats the thousand plus dollars some users have been charged for international data roaming!