Friday, August 29, 2008

Cell phones in Europe

Laura and I had planned to buy a cell phone after arriving here in the Netherlands. We've talked with several vendors and have learned some very interesting things:
  1. I've always been under the impression that Europe is more advanced with respect to cell phone technology than the US. This is definitely not the case. We inquired about an iPhone and were specifically told that the data network in Europe sucks. Along the same lines, you would think it would be straightforward to buy a calling plan that is good for all of Europe, or at least over a multi-country region. This is also not the case. "Roaming" is alive and well here in Europe.
  2. The Dutch don't seem to use cell phones very much. After three days of walking the streets of Delft, I can count on one hand the number of people I have seen talking on cell phones. (Those in the US who talk on the cell phone while walking, driving, standing in line for food, watching a movie, or going #2 should take note: the Dutch may have been wrong about wooden shoes, but they're onto something with their lack of yapping.)
  3. It follows then, that unlimited calling plans are not popular here. The typical calling plan is much like the kind I used to sell at Radio Shack in the US more than 7 years ago : ~$20-$40 for ~150-250 minutes/month with no special night or weekend benefits.
So what will we do? Will we follow the example that the Dutch have set, casting off the shackles of cellular oppression and freeing ourselves from the icy grip of constant contact, text messaging, and voicemail? Or will we succumb to the wicked convenience that cell phones offer?


B said...

Skype. Get both your parents to do the same. Your iMac can even do video chat with them if they have a web cam and you can do all this for FREE. You can also use Skype to call from your computer to any phone for a small fee. I am not sure on how fast your internet needs to be, but it may be something to look into.

Matt said...

Great suggestion - one we're already following. Skype works great, even from our not-quite-blazing hotel internet connection.

Pastor Mike said...

Matt! Thanks to Rita for forwarding your email, I can now keep up with your blog here. Great post! And extra kudos for the nod at your time at Radio Shack. Has it been that long?

thestevosays said...

In my chats with Europeans, including several Dutch, it was communicated to me that no one with the right mind uses cell phone "plans."

Instead, they all go prepay. Evidently, for something like every 20 euros that you top up, a certain percentage goes towards in-country calls and what's left goes towards EU-wide calls.

In Macau I did prepay. Paid about $40 for some crappy candy bar phone and then would occasionally come through and get a $10'ish phone card. It would last for like a month... I mean, think about it -- who are you going to call for extended periods of time? Every conversation that I had was "meet me here at this time, bye." What more do you expect to be doing?


Katie said...

i agree about the prepaid phone cards. incoming calls are free, so even if your parents called it from the states you wouldn't have to pay. also texts are much cheaper to send (like 5 or 10 cents) than you pay per minute, and you can by the "minutes" cards anywhere, at least in belgium. i think i used mobistar when i was over there....