2007 is definitely the year Prepaid Mobile Internet Access took off in Europe. In many countries especially, tourists, business travelers and most importantly local young people and students can now get affordable wireless 3G access to the Internet with prepaid SIM cards. Mobile Virtual Network Operator Yesss in Austria now takes the concept to the next level.
For 50 euros they are selling prepaid SIMs in supermarkets which come with 3GB worth of data volume to be used over ONE’s HSDPA network within 12 months. A 1GB extension afterwards, again valid for up to 12 months, costs 20 Euros. The data rate is ‘limited’ to 1 MBit/s but quite frankly that’s a limit that is not too difficult to live with.
Need an HSDPA data card with it? No problem, they’ll give you a Option 1.8 MBit/s HSDPA PCMCIA card for 39 Euros or a Huawei E220 USB modem for 149 Euros. The offer seems to be a rampant success, their online shop is currently sold out. In ‘Hofer’ supermarkets, and there seems to be one around every corner in Austria, the SIM cards are still available but they also have run short on the hardware.
Since I am in Austria every now and then I recently got myself a SIM card from one of the Hofer shops. Plug and play, no registration, nothing. Just buy the card, put it into your UMTS or HSDPA mobile/modem and off you go.
As always there is at least one catch 🙂 The SIM can only be used for Internet access, no voice or SMS allowed. As a consequence the SIM is only good for Internet access with Notebooks and other ‘non voice’ devices (Note: The SIM works fine in a mobile phone used as a modem for the notebook but voice calls are rejected). Makes sense from an operator point of view I guess. Otherwise nobody would buy pocket Internet access offers for 10 euros a month for a couple of megabytes anymore.
The other slight catch is that the ONE network used by Yesss does not have EDGE in areas where they have no 3G coverage. Therefore it’s kind of all or nothing.
For the details check out the Prepaid Wireless Internet Access Wiki.