Can I tether with my prepaid Italian SIM card?

The answer, in short: It depends.

Tethering—using your smartphone as a mobile hotspot for surfing the web on other gadgets, including tablets and laptops—is fairly straightforward on Android, iOS or Windows Phone devices. However, most smartphone prepaid or pay-as-you-go bundles in Italy do not allow you to use the tethering capabilities of your phone.

The same often goes for VoIP apps like Skype.

But there are a handful that allow it (as of February 2014).

Vodafone: Tethering is not included in any prepaid voice, text and internet SMART bundles. However, it is possible to tether by adding an additional prepaid data option called Fly. This costs €20 for up to 7Gb of tethering data (3G speeds) valid for a month. Fly also allows you to use VoIP services.

TIM: The internet portion of TIM’s voice, text and data bundles is compatible with tethering, but not with VoIP calling. For example, TIM Start includes 400 minutes, 200 text messages and 1Gb of data, all valid for a month, for €15. You can also extend the data portion of the tariff with an additional 1Gb “Internet Extra” for €5. Standard TIM internet add-ons, however, such as “TIM per smartphone” (€3 per week for 300Mb), are not compatible with tethering. If you want VoIP calling, too, you’ll need to activate the Internet 4G option: an additional 15Gb of 4G internet a month for €35 or Internet Large (5Gb/€20).

Wind: Wind has a number of internet add-ons for prepaid bundles which are all compatible with tethering. For example, Internet Big costs €9–€15 per month for up to 3Gb of data at 3G speeds.

Tre: Both ALL-IN voice/SMS/data bundles and the “SuperInternet per Smartphone” data add-on are incompatible with tethering.

There is even more choice if you carry an unlocked MiFi or personal hotspot device. I’ll cover that in another post.

5 Comments

  1. Dan February 25, 2014 at 2:35 am #

    Donald,
    Would it be possible to get a sneak preview of your thoughts for the data plans for the unlocked MiFi. I’m going to be in Italy (Rome to Florence) for two weeks at the end of March. I’m on the verge of purchasing an unlocked MiFi (Huawei e5331) for data sharing between our group of four travelers. We’re on the Verizon plan so I will get the phones unlocked and we will just use their international rates ($0.99-1.29) so that we can easily stay in touch (by keeping our home numbers) with our traveling kids as they come and go. I don’t speak Italian so it will be interesting to get it up and running after we arrive but that’s part of the adventure of traveling. Visit historical sites as well as immerse oneself it the modern culture, what could be more fun? Great site, Thanks.

  2. Donald Strachan February 25, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    Hi Dan.
    I am snowed under this week but I will put a note in my calendar to do this early next week… it’s about time I got around to it! Be assured, though, that you’ll have no trouble getting set up. Pointing and the international vocabulary of “megabytes” and “SIM cards” will get you through it…

  3. B. Gentile March 13, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    Don,
    I’m adding a similar question to the person who wrote you on Feb. 24 inquiring about your thoughts about data plans for an unlocked MiFi. I also purchased a Huawei MiFi 5331e and I’ll be using it for the first time when I travel to Italy at the beginning of April because there is no wifi for my iPhone and iPad where I’ll be staying. I want to be able to purchase a pay-as-you-go data card for the MiFi without a contract and will want 1 GB at least, maybe 2 GBs.
    I’m wondering if I can get a data card with this much GBs with TIM or Vodafone. Also, I don’t speak Italian and don’t know if this will be a problem with purchasing such a data card and then maybe topping up. Any help you can give in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

  4. John Kempler June 7, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    Do you happen to know what best way is to get WIFI/”dongle” setup for a notebook pc? What pre-paid service exist

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How to get online in Italy with an iPad, tablet or MiFi | Donald Strachan - March 21, 2014

    […] As an alternative to a data-only SIM, elsewhere I have covered tethering your smartphone in Italy. […]

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