Czech Mobile Operators
This page explains what is on offer for people wanting to use their own phones and those wanting to buy mobiles and services here. NOTE that having a Czech mobile operator SIM means you can use the DPT mobile transport ticketing system.
Tariffs, special offers and promotions are changing all the time. Below is a pretty good idea of what to expect when you get here although minor details will be changing in the rates and offer of hardware and services. First on this page are the options for mobiles. At the base of the page are calling cards for fixed phones.
Technologies and Companies
The three cellular main providers are below. All three have 3G/4G (plus hi-speed mobile data services options) equipment. People bringing their own phone should check roaming agreements with these operators and manually select the cheapest option when you get here. Phones using GSM900, DCS1800 and Tri-Band will work here but prepaid phones from other countries will need roaming activated and a SIM bought in CZ will not work in a prepaid phone bought outside CZ. In this case the prepaid phone has to be “unlocked” or “blown”. Note that US users on the Verizon network seem to have problems getting on some 3G networks here. ADSL or cable is widespread in the centre of the city but may need to be activated if you are staying in a private apartment. Unsecured WIFI is available in most shopping centres, central areas and the airport. Recharge/top-up cards are available in shops and newspaper kiosks (Tabaks).
Czech Mobile Operators
T-Mobile – http://www.t-mobile.cz
Network ID 230-01
Name on phone T-MOBILE
Telefonica (formerly Eurotel) – www.o2.com
Network ID 230-02
Name on phone O2 or EUROTEL
Vodafone (formerly Oskar) – www.vodafone.cz
Network ID 230-03
Name on phone VODAFONE or OSKAR.
Ask yourself 5 questions!
In order to make this process less confusing you could do worse than prepare for it by asking yourself the following questions;
1) Which network do most of my friends/colleagues use?
2) How many texts do I normally send in an average month?
3) Do I need a data package for internet/email?
4) Do I want the package longer than one month?
5) Will I use my own phone or buy another one?
You’ll find if you know the answers to these 5 questions then selecting one of the Czech mobile operators, tariff and product will be much easier.
Note that roaming is available even on pre-paid SIMs but has to be activated at the time of purchase. Make sure you ask for it if you think that you will need it.
All Czech mobile operators will offer a SIM-only deal and their prepaid offer is called TWIST. This is the equivalent of the UK “Pay as you go” system. This can either be a SIM-only deal or include a phone and you generally receive a call credit which is further topped up. The Tariff is specified separately and is currently called COMBI. The different tariffs are based on your personal requirement and T-Mobile has a range of add-ons that you might want to buy to give yourself cheaper SMSs and/or call minutes etc. Basic data/voice package is “web’n’walk” with another option for “surf’n’mail” with more “unlimited” options than Vodafone but the Vodafone offer can be even more personalised if you really know what you want. T-mobile also does the “pay monthly” options which are considered as normal “contract” phones and as the contract period maybe less than one year you will be required to leave a credit card deposit if you use this option.
NOTE that O2/Telefonica is the only one of the Czech mobile operators that is also a FIXED line provider so don’t confuse FIXED tariffs with their MOBILE tariffs. O2 “pay monthly” is pretty straight forward. Just select the NEON tariff that you want for their offer of unlimited voice/sms. O2 prepaid is called the “O2 Karta” and starts with a choice of cheaper texts or cheaper calls (both of which are more expensive than the others). O2 SIM cards are free to call other O2 mobiles in-country. The system is much simpler in that you just charge the phone and use whatever services you want until the credit runs out.
Compared with the other Czech mobile operators, the Vodafone offer looks a little complicated. The Vodafone prepaid offer is called “Vodafone card” which currently costs 200Kc. Note that this is a SIM-only deal and you need to have a GSM phone. The card is generic and can be programmed to be a “Vodafone cheap” phone called a “Vodafone wild card” which offers calls to other Vodafone numbers at less than half the rate of calling inter-operator or a contact all network numbers card called a “Vodafone Loaded card”. The loaded card calculates rates based on the top-up value i.e. if you use a top-up card of 349Kc or less then your call rate is currently 6Kc/min. If you top-up with a card more than 2100Kc in value then the call rate reduces to 3Kc/min. YOU DECIDE WHICH TYPE OF CARD YOU WANT IT TO BE.
You can choose a phone with your own “Tailor-made” tariff depending on how you want to use the phone i.e. free calls to other Vodafone numbers, lots of SMSs but not so much call time or lots of internet call time and no SMSs etc. Totally flexible and you use it either on a monthly basis like a regular contract and you pay a “minimum” call deposit which covers your selected services. This can also be a “one-time” deal whereby you pay for the same services in advance along with the cost of the phone. You have a choice of phone numbers. They have an “Internet Self Care” program to guide you through the data/email setup process. Phones can be ordered and the tariff setup so all you have to do is collect the stuff from the shop.
www.smartcall.cz offers a selection of fixed line calling cards but you should use the tariff/rates calculator to check the rates for the type of calls that you want to make because some work out at 5 times what a prepaid mobile tariff would be. They work in the standard way i.e. from any fixed phone (including payphones) you first dial a toll-free number and then the number that you want to connect. Note that lower value calling cards also include a 10Kc connection fee for each call. The cards also have expiry period of 90 days from first activation. Calling cards can be bought from most tourist centres, newsagents and Chequepoint money exchange offices. They offer other cards with special rates from CZ to Russia and other Eastern European countries (T-Karta) and also from CZ to Asian countries (Asia Karte).