Monday, December 4, 2017

SIM Shopping in Europe

In researching wireless roaming outside the US for our new Z-ROAM Worldwide Wireless Roaming site, we set off on a short European vacation.  Airports are great places to go SIM shopping.  We arrived at London's Heathrow and after looking for the nearest bathroom, we looked for the nearest European SIM.  The first SIM sighting was at an airport convenience store (we call them news stands).  They had SIM's at a reasonable price, but we were told their self-checkout scanners were not capable of activating a purchased SIM.  Huh?  If I can't buy it, can I just take it?  No?  Let's move on.

The second store we visited was a real SIM store but their SIM's started at 30 pounds (about $40 US).  That's waaaay too much for our quick in & out test.  We then found a SIM vending machine with prices starting at 20 Pounds (about $27 US), a better deal.  I stuck in my credit card and an arm comes out and pushes the SIM card package out onto a shelf which would hopefully deliver the SIM through a slot.  WHOA! The arm accidentally knocks off 2 cards and the whole machine shuts down.  So much for robots replacing humans.

By now the family is anxious to get on the train to town so my SIM transaction will have to wait.  The phone won't work on the London Underground anyway...because it's underground, right?  At the other end of the trip, there were a few stores in the train station that sold SIM's, but the ones with real cashiers weren't the ones with SIM's.  Logic?  My foreign SIM purchase had been thwarted in several tries.

Now headed for our hotel, we passed one of those little open air kiosks attended by a nice bearded gentleman who had candy, drinks...and SIM's!  He understood I only needed Data access, so he sold me a SIM with a 1Gb fillup for only 15 Pounds (about $20 US).  Success!  The biggest problem is what do your with your home wireless provider's nano-SIM?  Egad, it's so small, it won't even stay in your wallet.  Solution:  use the Ziploc bag you keep your liquids in, seal it up in your carry-on and hope for the best.

Hooray, connected to 4G LTE, our next step is to see how this service works through the Chunnel. Uh, that and the London subway are underground, right?  Gulp.

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