3G data prepaid SIM in France SFR / ORANGE
Nowadays, travelling with your smartphone means you are always “connected”. I get used to it as being trained up in US working culture – 24hrs with email communication. The roaming charges centralized to company’s bill and mine will never be the top like those regional travelers, still the amount is higher than local data or wifi. Unless you could find 3G data prepaid is available.
Not sure how many people could travel without “get connected”, i would like to read my local newspaper or weibo if there’s “free” time. That’s good for travelling with group which everyone could have connectivity and stay online a bit. Or, good for having google map while you get lost in the new city. The most important thing is I still with my mobile SIM receiving call & SMS without using a French SIM with another French mobile #.
Here’s the experience for having 3G data prepaid worked out for my trip in France ( Jul 2012 ).
Before flying out, I bought a 3G wifi router ( a.k.a mobile hotspot ) which you could insert a 3G data prepaid SIM and the device distribute wifi signal for your ipad/kindle/smartphone. Next, searching result showed 2 operators could be my target for 3G prepaid SIM in France. Network coverage and speed are the most crucial criteria during the search. Originally, planned to get the prepaid SIM in CDG immediately after arrival but some of the areas were under renovation and couldn’t find those operators’ store unfortunately. Those mini-store/newstand have prepaid mobile, prepaid SIM for local call or recharge card but none of them has 3G data prepaid SIM. The following 3G data prepaid SIM were all from operators’ store directly and the 2 operators are SFR & Orange France.
1) Orange France ( City: La Rochelle )
Search for forfaits Let’s go pour clés 3G+ or go to web site: http://sites.orange.fr/shop/forfaits_tablette_cle/offres_cle.php
My experience was web site information is not exactly what you got from the store ( let’s say it was just updated when I was in the store ). Anyway, it is good to have a screen capture with you and the sales officer could understand you easily or he/she couldn’t turn you down ( let’s say ).
First you need to get a prepaid SIM, which is 8EUR with 100Mb within 15 days. Some web sites said you need to fill-in a form and post it to the regulation within 3 days so that your SIM could be registered and extended further after “probation period”. I hadn’t tried with this SIM because:
- Both sales and technical officer have very limited English communication skill. ( Actually, all officers including the manager in the store and La Rochelle could be considered as quite local ( compare with Paris ) and they keep you know “the typical French attitude” towards customer )
- Technical officer in the store couldn’t help me out for APN setting and tried to demonstrate that it is my 3G wifi router problem with his livebox. ( The sales officer also tried to identify the problem and discuss with the technical officer…….but no result )
- Final solution: I used my ipad ( connected to their livebox and got internet connectivity. Search for APN of Orange France ) and I put it into my 3G wifi router and it works finally. However, it took more than an hour from waiting to walking out from the store with the data prepaid SIM get connected
- The coverage of Orange is so-so only even you are in the train station or some central areas. Sometimes even without 3G signal for connectivity
2) SFR ( City: Poitiers )
Of course, with the above result leads to move forward and to explore 3G surfing experience with another France operator. I asked the tourist office where could I found SFR store which it is just in the city center. The experience here is quite different, sales officer with good English communication skill ( later I found that Poitiers is an university town ) and with less queue up time.
It is same item that you need to buy, a 3G data prepaid SIM and what is the APN setting that you need.
Search for SFR La Carte : carte SIM prépayée et sans engagement or go to http://www.sfr.fr/mobile/sfr-la-carte.jspe ( SIM )
Search for CLÉ PRÊTE À SURFER or go to http://www.sfr.fr/mobile/offres-internet-mobile-cle-internet-3g-detail/pass_internet_3g_plus?vue=000mg0 ( Recharge )
On mid-2012, I got a SIM (EUR3) + 200M for 30 days ( EUR15 ) for my trip. Nowadays, SFR is having different different recharge and you could have 2G for 30days with 30EUR only.
The whole experience with SFR is very good with its coverage, stability and speed. This is highly recommended.
3) APN Setting
SFR: Static APN: websfr
Orange France: Static APN: orange.fr
4) My device
3G wifi router: Huawei E560
Wifi devices me & my friends were using: Android smartphones like Samsung SII, HTC One or IOS devices like iphone 4/ipad/ipod
a) During research phase, most of comments indicate communication issue is the major challenge to get a 3G prepaid card. A picture says a lot for you and better do a print screen that you could show it.
b) Get familiar with your 3G wifi router configuration ( Most of them are having web interface setting/configuration ). Prepare yourself as the first/final technician to save your prepaid connectivity even you get the 3G data prepaid SIM from the store.
c) APN setting is easy with 3G wifi router but the difficult part is you need to know which APN is right. Web searching will help you out.
d) Estimate your usage/decide data volume ( recharge volume ) that you need. Order it after once you have the connectivity in store coz recharge method, no matter through phone/web, is in French. Therefore, it saves time if you could make recharge all-in-one in the store and you could enjoy 3G internet for the rest of the journey.