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11 October 2006

Mobile Internet in Greece

Some thoughts on getting online with a GSM phone

Updated: As of 2008/2009, the information in this article is outdated. Please read the Update: Mobile Internet for Visitors in Greece 2009 instead!

I have written before about Internet in Greece, ADSL-Preise in Griechenland (in German) and SMTP on the Go with CosmOTE, and the result is that sometimes people email me with further questions. Dave from England wrote me asking about getting online from a mobile phone:

I'm in the UK now but planning to spend a lot of time sailing in Greece over the next couple of years. I want a Greek prepaid SIM, with good coverage on the Islands near Turkey, that allows GPRS internet access... which point I stopped him cold. No Internet on prepaid mobile phones.

That's a political decision, not a technicality. As you can buy a prepaid card everywhere in Greece completely anonymous (sometimes they are given away for free to students), if they would offer Internet access, you could be on the Internet completely *anonymous*. What would happen to the children? What if the terrorists started to use that? [insert scare of the day] - so the cops and the politicians can of course not let that happen.

If you really want to get access to the Internet over a GSM phone (or a GSM PCMCIA card in a laptop, same thing), then you need a real subscription, paid on a monthly basis. Some providers (e.g. CosmOTE) will let you switch on a service called "GPRS", but that's a fake, it's meant to provide WAP over GPRS. And as they say in Greek, "not even its mother knows what WAP is..." For a full, monthly paid CosmOTE account for example, the name of the real GPRS/Internet service is "Wireless Internet Easy".

To get a full subscription mobile phone account is another story. It involves a lot of paperwork, amongst which you will have to deliver the form "E9" from the Greek tax office, which proves that you are paying taxes. Obviously you get that form only after you've been working in Greece for a while, not really practicable for visitors.

The alternatives aren't always so good looking: Many foreigners use GPRS through their "home" provider and roaming, which may come a bit pricey. In some areas (like Athens) you might get by with hunting down a wireless connection (like on Syntagma square) or even setting up with something like the Athens Metropolitan Wireless Network. No play like that in the Aegean though. There isn't much else I can suggest right now, ideas welcome.

Updated: As of 2008/2009, the information in this article is outdated. Please read the Update: Mobile Internet for Visitors in Greece 2009 instead!

Posted by betabug at 23:30 | Comments (9) | Trackbacks (1)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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Re: Mobile Internet in Greece

Hi, I will be sailing in the Jonian Eptanese from mid june to mid july. I will need to keep in touch with my office in Milano, therefore I wrote to and they wrote me back saying that they had launched a Prepaid Wireless internet data card that can be used on my laptop. Can you please tell me more about this product?
Thank you Giorgio

Posted by: Giorgio Quarta at May 28,2008 13:53
Re: Mobile Internet in Greece

Hi Giorgio!
Yes, these products are on the market now, by all 3 mobile providers in Greece (Vodafone, CosmOTE, Wind). I don't know much more than that they exist. I think you can just go into any Vodafone shop and buy the product there. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by: betabug at May 28,2008 14:12
Re: Mobile Internet in Greece

Hello everybody,
I have prepaid internet in Greece with Wind
I am a Greek living in Austria and I faced the same problem as you. Finally I found Wind where the cost for 2 days is 10EUR and for 7 days 30EUR. In all case use of internet is unlimited. Speed is quite disappointing. It reminded me the years of 56K modems or even less.

Unfortunately their page is in Greek. However, they have quite a lot of shops around Greece which you could recognise from their colour and trade mark.

I hope this piece of information will be of help for you.


Posted by: Andreas at June 13,2008 22:57
Re: Mobile Internet in Greece

Andreas, thanks for the info. As mentioned before, these products exist now from all 3 providers. If you use GPRS, then indeed speed will resemble a 56k modem (or even a 33k modem sometimes). If you have a 3G setup (e.g. a PC Card or one of those 3G modems), speed can be quite good, provided the network in the area you're in has 3G support.

A short experiment using 3G through a mobile phone and Bluetooth connection showed much lower speeds than on the same computer using a USB/3G modem, so these devices are really worth it.

Posted by: betabug at June 14,2008 09:05
Re: Mobile Internet in Greece

Just my two cents. After consistent disappointment with ADSL in our home for 6 months, we signed up for a Vodafone 3G plan. We got the modem device for free and our subscription is also free for 4 months with unlimited volume and time, then we pay 29.99 a month for 5G per day after that. Software for both Mac and PC was free.

When on 3G, it gets 7.2 mbps and on 2G through GPRS it's only around 56K. Considering our former ADSL would black out for weeks at a time and often not much faster, I find this a stable solution and the best part is we signed up and had a connection in 5 minutes.

Posted by: Kat at June 21,2008 11:51
Re: Mobile Internet in Greece

I tried to get the information about wireless prepaid cards directly from providers. To post a contact form on Vodafone and Wind pages you have to have an phone number in Greece - I haven't any so I cannot ask them.

In case of Cosmote I received following answer:
Concerning your request, we would like to inform you that the Internet Access Services of COSMOTE, are not available to prepaid packs of COSMOTE.

For a tarif plan subscription you need a certification of a permanent address in Greece.

Posted by: Robert Marek at June 23,2008 14:09
Re: Mobile Internet in Greece

Hi can you tell me if my three mobile broadband will work with a cosmote 3g data sim card , in greece.



Posted by: steve at July 23,2008 16:05
Re: Mobile Internet in Greece

Hello. Am i able to purchase prepaid data and use my south african modem + prepaid sim card to download emails while in Athens? Many thanks

Posted by: jessica at July 29,2008 11:49
Re: Mobile Internet in Greece

Hi i'm a sailor my traiding area was greece and egypt, can i use this usb internet modem when i'm in egypt using vodafone?and the vodafone has a prepaid usb internet modem in greece?how much its cost?

Posted by: mero jay at February 22,2009 02:16
You can trackback to:
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.

Read the linking post here: ch-athens at May 24,2009 16:50