Keeping in Touch in Italy


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Expats in Italy will always be able to keep in touch with people back home, no matter where in the world that is – whether to catch up on how family is doing, or to gloat about all the amazing experiences they are having.
 
Family is at the centre of life in Italy, whether it is the one a person was born into or the one expats make during their stay in the country. For that reason, Italians demand an open and varied communication network that makes keeping in touch in Italy easy.
 

Landline telephones in Italy

 
Telephone representing keeping in touch in Italy
Telecom Italia is the undisputed king of Italian telecommunications. The former state-owned company once enjoyed a monopoly on the market, and while it now has some hard-fought competition, it is still very strong.
 
Expats wanting reliability should consider going with Telecom Italia. The company owns almost all the hardware in the country, so if something goes wrong with the landline, a person would probably get help sooner than if they were with another provider.
 
That said, Telecom is not always the best or cheapest provider. This depends on where in Italy one goes. Regional areas are not as well serviced as the cities and that can limit a person’s choices and impact their bill.
 
Like anywhere in the world, it’s important to do one’s homework. It is possible to compare rates on sites such as OnTariffe. If possible, ask someone who speaks Italian for help – phone companies are notoriously confusing. Otherwise, Telecom Italia does provide customer service and support in English.
 
Some of the other major players in the landline market in Italy are Infostrada, BT Italy, Tiscali and Uno, but these don’t all offer English services.
 
Finally, when choosing a landline it’s important for new arrivals to consider whether they also need Internet or a mobile phone. In Italy, it pays for people to get all their telecommunications needs in one place. Every company offers all-in-one bundles that can mean big savings. Some even have special packages for customers who make frequent international calls.
 

Installing a landline in Italy 

Most companies have two landline plans to choose from. Fixed-rate plans (piano) offer fixed per minute rates all day and subscribers only pay for the calls they make. All-inclusive plans (forfeit) have a standing charge each month. Subscribers pay the same amount every month as long as they don’t exceed the set amount of minutes.
 
Once a decision has been made, setting up a landline in Italy is easy, since the phone company takes care of all the details. All customers have to do is go to one of their stores with their tax number (codicefiscale) and address.
 
Having a landline in Italy is comparable to the rest of Europe. There are peak and off-peak call times, but these depend on the specific plan.
 
When making international calls, expats will be better off either buying a phone card or using an internet call service like Skype than using a landline.
 

Mobile phones in Italy

 
There are familiar names on the Italian mobile phone market including Vodafone, which has a comprehensive English website, and 3, or as locals call it, “tre”. Two other major players are Wind and TIM (Telecom Italia).
 
While expats can use an existing mobile phone in Italy, they will need to buy a new SIM card. To get one expats will need proof of a tax number and proof of residence and identification. Expats can choose between a fixed contract (abbonamento) or pre-paid credit (ricaricabile) at any provider. For prepaid, recharge vouchers (richariche) are available at supermarkets, tabaccheria, phone shops, over the phone and online.
 
Have a good look at all the packages on offer. Most service providers have packages with unlimited phone calls, Internet usage or messaging. Some also have special packages for people who make a lot of international calls.
 

Internet in Italy 

 
Internet url representing internet in Italy
Italy has a pretty reliable and fast Internet network. Most of the country is serviced by ADSL broadband, with speeds ranging up to 20 Mbps, depending on the company.
 
Skype is the expat’s saviour when it comes to calling home from Italy. Expats with Internet-savvy loved ones can chat free. Those who buy Skype credit can also call any landline or mobile phone anywhere in the world at very cheap rates.
 
Those who don’t want Skype can try Google Talk, VoxOx or VBuzzer. They all work equally well in Italy and offer varying rates for PC-to-phone calls. Obviously, the quality of a call when using these programs will depend on Internet speeds.
 
Once again, Telecom Italia (under the brand name Alice) rules the roost here. Tiscali, FastWeb and Wind are other choices for broadband in Italy. For expats living in remote areas, ISDN (faster than dial-up, but still fairly slow) from Alice and other smaller local providers is generally available.
 
One of the biggest benefits to Italian Internet is that there are no download limits, so expats can surf and chat for as long as they like without worrying about their speed being reduced. Internet cafés in Italy are also widely available, but not all are reasonably priced, so shop around.
 

Social networking, phone apps and censorship in Italy 

There are no major censorship issues in Italy, with censorship limited to some gambling, pornography and peer-to-peer sites. 
There has been controversy before over government attempts to gag bloggers, but this has largely been focused on Italian anarchist writers reaching huge audiences.
 
All the social networking sites are available, as are all smartphone chat apps such as WeChat, Blackberry Messenger and Apple Facetime.
 

Postal services in Italy

 
The Italian postal service is typically lackadaisical. Expats should avoid sending valuables by normal post. Italian customs can be nonchalant, but if they do decide to stop a package, it may never be seen again.
 
The correct format for letters in Italy is:
 
John Smith 
Via Dolce Vita, 6 
00010 Roma (RM)
 

English media in Italy


Major British and American newspapers and magazines are available in good city newsagents (giornalaio) and at English bookstores. Online news publications in English are also widely available in Italy.

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