Mobile Internet for Visitors in Greece 2009
Things have changed a lot since my often read post Internet for Visitors in Greece. That post was from February 2005. In the meantime we have mobile Internet solutions from all three Greek mobile phone providers. Only two of them have solutions for prepaid customers though. Also much more available are wifi connections, both in the form of accidentally left open wireless networks (use according to your own ethical standards), and in the form of "free wifi" in cafes and hotels. Read on for some more information especially about the prepaid mobile solutions.
Free wifi is great to have. If you stay in a hotel that offers the service and presuming that it's really free, it's the best you can get. If you want or have to be more independent, it might be because you're staying in a rented house, you move from hotel to hotel, or you're staying with friends or family who are not Internet aware. In my experience using a USB modem for a 3G / UMTS or even a GPRS connection allows you to do your important stuff on the net, without having to depend on others.
For those mobile connections, there are only a few options. For one thing, subscription plans are not really an option for you as a tourist, as in Greece to sign up for a subscription mobile plan you still need to provide official papers showing that you pay taxes here. You might get a friend sign up on their name with their papers, but it would have to be a really, really good friend for you to jump through these bureaucratic hoops and take the risk.
The next option is a prepaid phone card, together with something like a Huawei USB 3G modem.
First there is this 30MB a month plan offer from Vodafone. Vodafone shows an option here that works for prepaid cards, but it's only 30MB a month, with charges of almost 1 Euro per megabyte after that.
I've used a similar setup for quite a while in the past for keeping in touch by mail, but I worked on a really reduced to the minimum setup. It's not really for everybody or a "nice choice". Keep in mind that 30 MegaByte is really, really little stuff on todays web.
There is also this thing, which one reader mentioned: The Vodafone Mobile Connect 3G Prepaid Plans (scroll down on the linked page to find that plan). If you have a modem already (or a mobile phone that could serve as a modem), you'd probably need only the "Connection pack 3G Broadband Prepay" for 43 Euro. I didn't quite grasp what (or how much) you get with those 43 Euros, i.e. how much download bandwidth it buys you. I guess one would have a difficult time finding out what this means, as the people at the Vodafone shops are almost guaranteed to be totally clueless.
The other 2 mobile providers (CosmOTE and Wind) have probably similar programs. CosmOTE is going to be more complicated to find out, it's a government owned outfit. Excuse me if I won't bother with their website.
Wind seems to have those Prepaid ADSM tariff plans: It probably results to the same price range (~60 Euros per month), but at least you have an idea what you pay for. You get "unlimited" downloads (actually 7GB, but you can't download that much in that time over this type of connection anyway). You pay 15 Euros for 7 days, which sounds like a lot, but factor in the convenience of the prepaid connection and compare with prices in an Internet cafe... and it might just be the ticket if you use the net more or less regularly.
Personally I'd be something for someone like me, who want to really use the net (myself I have mobile Internet through Vodafone on the phone provided by my employer, so I'm not "endorsing" this plan really). What's mising is a plan that is somewhere in between the "all you can eat" and the "30MB a month ascetic diet", something for the casual mail checker + online news reader. Maybe the Vodafone offer (which lacks some information) is it, maybe it's just missing from the market.
The more or less state owned CosmOTE provider does not seem to have a prepaid data plan. They have something called "i-mode" access, over which presumably you can read your mails. Please excuse me if I won't bother to try to simmer that information out of their website.
As for the coverage: All three Greek mobile phone providers are bound to have about the same coverage area. Mobile telephony in Greece is extremely popular, with the number of mobile phone subscriptions surpassing the number of people living in Greece. You might not have 3G coverage everywhere, but slower GPRS for fallback will quite likely work. I've actually been chatting on irc from my phone on the boat back from Mykonos :-).
About the hardware: The Huawei USB 3G modems seem to be common. There is software support. Our company's thing was supplied by Vodafone and had the driver for Macs on the built in thumb drive. The Vodafone software is a bit stupid interface wise in my humble oppinion. Wind seems to supply Mac software too, but according to graffic it's easier and nicer to download the Mac driver from Huawei's site.