Getting Mobile Data Service in Romania

While it's customary to start a new blog with a celebratory post or some kind of an explanation, this is not exactly a new blog. It's the continuation of a blog started in 2007 and a detailed explanation will find its way there. What I'm researching right now is the best way to get mobile Data (i.e., Internet connectivity on a mobile device) in Romania in 2021-2022, preferably prepaid.

composite of Ro Tel logos with a SIM card hooked on topThe baseline for a comparison with Romania is what I can get here in Canada, which is home to some of the highest such prices in the world (np, bt, dh). The situation is so dire, that some Canadians with eSIM-capable phones buy Data plans from Hong Kong, even though the traffic gets routed through that part of the world ($298 HKD/$44 CAD - 365 Days - 30GB + 5 GB of Social Data, 3hk, rfd). As of now,

  • 1 CAD = 0.70 EUR = 0.81 USD = 3.45 RON
  • 1 RON = 0.20 EUR = 0.23 USD = 0.29 CAD

(according to OANDA). RON is slightly more than 3 times CAD, 5 times EUR and 4 times USD while EUR is 2/3 CAD.

The high cost of Data and mobile services in Canada has taught me to rely on VoIP. With Voice over Internet Protocol, I can send and receive free calls, SMS and MMS throughout continental USA and Canada. All I need is Internet and I'm good. For Data, I presently use TbayTel Prepaid (using Rogers network) - $100-150 / 20GB 3G / 1 year (tbt, rfd) and Freedom Mobile (using Shaw limited network; rfd) $99 / 6 mths / unlimited voice & text + 2 GB LTE/mth. If I wanted postpaid, I could get Fido's tablet plan (using Rogers network; at about $10 for 4GB/mth LTE but requires an existing voice plan; rfd).

It's a long story why we have this telephony situation here in Canada and especially Toronto, which I started a while back but it is nonetheless a poor fit for this article. The current Rogers saga gives some interesting pointers (cbc, gnm) and it is reminiscent of HBO's Succession. Rogers is in the process of acquiring Shaw (cbc), and previously, when it acquired Fido/Microcell (which also had a Romanian presence), it immediately cheapened the brand look, raised prices and dropped unlimited plans.

My VoIP rates for calling Romania are as follows (prefix, per minute, telco):

  • 021,4,8 $0.0248 RomTelecom
  • 031-6 $0.0293 RDS/ComBridge
  • 09 $0.0248 special SVC: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 72-0, 8, 9
  • 078 $0.1456 Cosmote/DIGI
  • 076 $0.1216 Cosmote
  • 077 $0.0248 Digi
  • 07000/0701 $0.0248 Enigma/Lyca
  • 074-5 $0.1596 Orange
  • 071 $0.0248 RomTel
  • 078 $0.1456 TeleMob
  • 072-3 $0.1194 Vodafone
  • 079 $0.0248 Vodafone
  • 070 $0.0248 prpr
  • 03 $0.0293 prpr

(per minute charged in 6s increment; taxes and payment processing fees are a factor of up to x1.2 or 20% extra; an incoming DID in Romania is up to $6/month for unlimited calls, but the carrier is North American and as such Caller ID is not properly sent;)

Signal coverage can be found at aisemnal.ro

The businesses offering this type of service in Romania are:

  1. Orange România prepay abonament
  2. Telekom Romania cartela, Net Mobil 5
  3. Vodafone Romania cartela, abonament
  4. RCS RDS (Digi) Optim2
  5. Lycamobile Romania special; MVNO on Telekom network; limiteaza VoIP in FAQ
  6. Benefito Mobil - MVNO on RON on Telekom network, FAQ PDF

Having looked at all offers, there Data / Internet seems to be offered by many as "unlimited" through their app or by sending a text message, which is weird - is that guaranteed?

I've discovered 2 comparison shopping sites, telecompar and komparatorul, but it is unclear who is behind them and haven't been updated for more than 2 years; nonetheless, if you need more info, they might provide the same info as the "mother" sites in a more easily readable format. Luckily, the Romanian regulator ANCOM offers a comparison shopping service at veritel.ro. To use it, one needs to understand that prepaid is referred to as "cartela" or card, whereas postpaid or subscription is referred to as "abonament". If I choose prepaid (cartela) 1GB/mth, it strangely gets "guessed" at 70MB/mth peak and 30MB/mth off-peak, I get 4.76 euro (after TVA) w/ 10 mths validity; if I choose both, I get a subscription DigiMobil Optim 2 at 1.92 euro/month for 12 months (TVA inclusive), but it turns out I have to pick 2 offers (don't know why), and the next best is the same thing with an additional 3000MB of "national Net" for 1 additional euro with a bonus of 25% peak + 25% off-peak if renewed in 30 days. I'm a bit confused by all this and will need some time to figure it out.

*(*This article is unfinished – it was scheduled to appear in the hope that it will be finished before, but since this message is here and until it is removed, the article is to be considered work in progress*)*.

Sources / More info: https://gadget.ro/cel-mai-bun-operator-de-telefonie-mobila-in-2021/, https://economie.hotnews.ro/stiri-telecom-23549447-grafice-operatori-cei-mai-multi-abonati-cele-mai-mari-venituri-din-internet-telefonie-romania-date-oficiale-premiera.htm, https://madalincristian.ro/lista-completa-de-setari-de-internet-si-mms-ale-operatorilor-de-telefonie-mobila-din-romania/, https://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorie:Companii_de_telefonie_mobil%C4%83_din_Rom%C3%A2nia, http://mobile.city-star.org/ro, https://mateistefanv.blogspot.com/p/scurt-istoric-al-operatorilor-de.html, https://comunicate.wall-street.ro/sondaj-cel-mai-bun-operator-de-telefonie-mobila-din-romania-in-2017-838, https://www.dcbusiness.ro/pre-urile-operatorilor-de-telefonie-mobila-scad-cat-te-va-costa-un-apel_610199.html, https://economie.hotnews.ro/stiri-telecom-18680079-cote-piata-cei-mai-mari-operatori-telefonie-mobila-din-romania.htm, https://madalincristian.ro/centru-sms/, https://www.digi24.ro/stiri/actualitate/evenimente/studiu-de-piata-ce-operatori-de-telefonie-mobila-apreciaza-romanii-in-prezent-402031, https://madalincristian.ro/acum-poti-verifica-acoperirea-reala-a-operatorilor-de-telefonie-mobila/ https://twitter.com/i/status/1453263143891783683, https://www.opensignal.com/reports/2021/06/romania/mobile-network-experience, https://gadget.ro/cel-mai-bun-operator-de-telefonie-mobila-in-2021/, https://www.media-max.ro/cel-mai-bun-abonament-mobil-digi-orange-vodafone-telekom/, https://www.mygarage.ro/comunicatii/522021-ce-operator-de-telefonie-mobila-si-date-sa-aleg.html, https://www.profit.ro/povesti-cu-profit/it-c/analiza-piata-portabilitatii-rcs-rds-ramane-dublu-lider-schimb-telekom-urca-2-ciobanul-ghita-mega-image-blue-air-trecand-peste-vodafone-orange-director-recent-fim-rechini-19894075 https://unsplash.com/photos/6LwmMV15Ug4

Comments

  1. I've been using Digi Mobile for the past six years, after Orange decided not to offer me a better deal (then they did... one year after I had broken away from them). Perfectly satisfied with their data connection, traffic rates and miniscule prices. Their regular GSM service is so-and-so, but I usually make calls through others apps. So I see why VOIP was never a trend here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That, and also, I know quite a few people who have their own lives (moved out, etc) yet their parents are still paying their cell phone bills. The other thing is you're probably on "abonament" whereas I'll look first at prepaid. But it's good to know that Digi (also known for the more solid VoIP / landline RDC/RDS offers) managed to gain your approval and recommendation :)

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