Saturday, March 20, 2010

Finally got my Czech mobile

When I moved to Czech Republic,  I had my AT&T service still running on my iPhone.  It was such a bad idea, as they charged me for the roaming service (yes, my jaw dropped when I saw my bill - yikes!) .  I cancelled it immediately, and ever since then I had no phone at all except the Skype phone as we don't have a land line connected to this apartment, either. Skype phone was good except that it depends on the Internet connectivity, and this apartment which has a proprietary Internet connection had some issues at the beginning of this month. 

So, I decided to get a mobile phone.  The first thing we tried was, of course, to get a new sim card for iPhone.  But we failed to do so, as the iPhone was "locked."   In order to use the different carrier, you need to "unlock" your iPhone... :-(  

I undestand it is not an official approach, but I loved my iPhone and decided to give a try for "unlocking."  So, I went to a store here in Brno to see if they could unlock it.  They said (yes!  they spoke English, too!) they should be done with "unlocking" within an hour.  I went back, and they told me to come back in 2 hrs.  So, I did, and they said they had been having hard time unlocking it but that they will continue trying some more.  I went back the next day, and the clerk told me that they couldn't unlock it unfortunately.  Rats!

I decided to hold off on the idea of using iPhone, and decide to explore other options.  I found a T-mobile store around Nám Svobody (Liberty Square - the biggest one in the heart of Brno), went in, and managed to talk with someone who can speak English a little bit (she was using Google Translate to communicate with me ^^).  I found out that I will need a passport and visa in order to sign up for a monthly service.  And, as a foreigner, you have to pay a deposit of 5,000 CZK (approx. $250) in advance but it will be returned after 6 months.  On top of that, you are rquired to pay a regular deposit which will be returned after 3 months, and the amount differs depending on the service you purchase.  For instance, if you want the service up to 250 CZK credit, the deposit will be 1,000 CZK (approx. $50), but if you want the service up to 1,200 CZK credit, the deposit will be 2,500 CZK (approx. $125).   And depending on the service you purchase, the price of the phone you want changes, too.  So, for instance, if I want to get an iPhone 3GS with the most basic 250 CZK credit, the phone will cost me 17,999 CZK (approx. $900!!!!).   Okay, so forget about iPhone, but even with the most basic phone such as Nokia 6303 which allows you to do both emails and Internt with minimum credit of 250 CZK, it will end up costing me 5,000 (for foreigner deposit) + 1,000 (for the regular deposit) + 250 (for the first month service) + 2,999 (for the phone with 250 CZK option) = 9,249 CZK (approx. $463).  That's a lot to pay just to get a phone with basic service.  Anyway, it took me like 20 mins to understand the entire scheme of all these, and after all I decided to go with he pre-paid card for now.

I asked the clerk to show me the cheapest phone that I can buy with the pre-paid service, and it was the Samsumg E1120 which cost me 750 CZK with the sim of 300 credit for 89 CZK, and 10 CZK for some sort of communcation service.  The total bill was 840 CZK (approx. $42)!   They had some sort of promotion plan with this card, so I get 300 free SMS messages.  I will be charged 7 points for each min, so I should have about 40 mins.  Also you can register up to 5 numbers and for these numbers only you will only be charged 3.5 points/min.

Boy... it was complicated but I managed to get a phone!!

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