Keeping in Touch in Italy
Expats in Italy will be able to keep in touch with people back home easily and efficiently.
Family is at the centre of life in Italy, whether it is the family that a person was born into or the one that 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.
Internet in Italy
While Italy's internet is generally reliable, some expats may find it a bit on the slow side as its speed lags slightly behind that of its European neighbours. However, expats shouldn't be too limited by this and will still be able to Skype and watch videos with ease. One of the biggest benefits to the internet in Italy 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.
Telecom Italia (under the brand name Alice) is the country's top internet service provider, while BT Italia, Tiscali, FastWeb and Wind are other choices for broadband in Italy.
There are internet cafés and WiFi hotspots scattered around Italy but expats may be surprised to find that there aren't as many public internet facilities as one might expect. This is due to the strict anti-terrorism laws which regulate the sector – WiFi hotspots, for instance, can only be established with the official permission of the police. In addition, members of the public wishing to make use of internet cafés must be able to produce a valid identification card.
Mobile phones in Italy
The top providers in the Italian mobile phone market are TIM (owned by Telecom Italia), Vodafone and Wind.
Some expats will be able to use their current mobile phone in Italy, although network-locked phones will first need to be unlocked. Expats will need a tax number to obtain an Italian SIM card, as well as proof of residence and identification. All providers offer a choice between a fixed postpaid contract or prepaid credit. For topping up on prepaid plans, recharge vouchers are available at supermarkets, tobacco shops, bars, ATMs, over the phone and online.
Italian mobile phone operators tend to offer a variety of packages. 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.
Landline telephones 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 competition, it is still very strong and is a solid choice for expats who value reliability. 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.
Some of the other major players in the landline market in Italy are BT Italia, WIND and Tiscali.
Finally, when choosing a landline it’s important for new arrivals to consider whether they also need internet, cable or mobile phone services as well. In Italy, it pays for people to get all their telecommunications needs in one place as every company offers all-in-one bundles that can result in huge monthly savings.
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), proof of address and identification.
When making international calls, expats will be better off either buying an international phone card or using an internet call service like Skype than using a landline.
Postal services in Italy
The Italian postal service is typically lackadaisical and expats should avoid sending valuables by regular post. Italian customs can be nonchalant, but if they do decide to stop a package, it may never be seen again. Queues at post offices can be long as many people pay their monthly bills there.
English media in Italy
Major British and American newspapers and magazines are available at some city newsagents and at English bookstores. Italian news publications in English, such as The Local, are easily accessed online but are hard to come by in print.