SIM card confusion.

The more I read the confuseder I become. Please can you fill in the bits I’m missing so I can understand the basics. I’m begging you to use small words and keep it simple.

We’ve now reached Thailand and need a new SIM card for the phone. But there are a dizzying array available with short and long periods, various mgb available, etc etc. I’m beyond confused. So is hubby but won’t admit it.

The big issue standing in his way seems to be not knowing how long the mgbs he purchases will last. He seems confused about what activities we use the phone for, burn through the mgbs, and how fast. He wants unlimited internet, I think because that’s maybe what he had in Vietnam. But it doesn’t seem available here.

Here’s what I know for sure, we need coverage for 30 days, and really want a portable hotspot like the one in Vietnam provided. We can live without texting and phoning and only need internet. We use the internet to surf around, watch the occasional Netflix show or movie, Facebook, email.

There is a 4.5gbt, 30 day card available. But he seems stuck on how long those gbts will last before they run out. Clearly I am no help. He keeps expecting the store clerk to have an answer. But neither of us really understand how much we might actually be using, or which activities will use them up quickly, so of course they can’t answer any better than we can! He keeps saying, ‘But I don’t know how long that will last!’ Grrrrr!

If you have any insight to share that could help us to move forward here it would be greatly appreciated.

Wouldn’t there be an option to recharge your SIM card? If you run out, just go down to the store and pay them to load up your phone. They’ll do some magic with their phone, then you’ll get a text on your phone saying you’re good to go.

How long the 4.5 Gb last will depend on what you use the data for. If you watch a lot of Netflix, you’ll burn through your data faster. Email and Facebook, not so fast. You get an allotment of gigs to last the 30 days, and once you use it, that’s it until you buy more data. Once it’s used up, you’ll probably have to pay in full for another 30 days, if even it’s all been used before the month is over.

Your phone might keep track of how much data it has used. I know most Android phones do, but I’m not sure if iPhones will also do that by default. On Android, it’s usually under Settings -> Connections, but it can vary depending on the version, and how much the phone maker has modified things.

If you have that information, and can find, it then you should be able to get an idea of how much data you’ve used in the last 2 weeks, 30 days, whatever. Probably most useful is since you turned on the hot spot feature in Vietnam.

Anyway, 4.5GB is quite a bit, but you could also get through it pretty quick. Based on how big my Netflix “My Downloads” is, a 43-minute show at HD quality is 0.15-0.30 GBs. So, three shows a night could add up to 1GB/day if you’re unlucky. If you can work out getting Netflix to stream in standard quality, then you’ll save some data.

If you’re taking a hundred pictures per day, and some movies, and are backing that up to a cloud account, then that can also burn through data quickly. An HD video recorded on my phone is about .1GB/minute.

If all your doing is email, and some web browsing, then 4.5GB could last you the entire month.

If it were me, I’d get whichever one is the cheapest per GB. So if 4.5GB for 30 days is the best value, then get that. If you burn through all the data in a week, then get another, or top it up, or whatever is best. If you end up in a string of places with great wifi, and you only use 2 of the 4.5GB, then don’t worry about, unless the data is really expensive, and you have to ration yourselves.

There is also the psychology. If you’re husband would rather spend $15 for 2GB than $20 for 4.5GB, but leave 2.5GB unused, then get the $15. Of course, when you use the 2GB in a week, he’ll still feel bad…

Popping out to the store to top it up can’t happen as in two days we’ll be on an island without cars, banks, atms etc. I think SIM cards will fall into the same category. I think you can top up online, but not certain.

I really think the 30 day, high gbt one should do us. We don’t watch shows or movies very often, and there should be wifi available where we are, but it might not be the best.

I just want the hotspot so I can surf at speed, if the hotel wifi is slow, slow, slow!

Still not sure I fully understand but your info is helping. Please don’t hesitate to add more if it strikes you, every little bit helps!

If you’re going to be on an island so remote that it doesn’t have any cars, what makes you think you’ll have decent cell phone reception there? Or, indeed, any cell phone signal at all?

To put things in perspective (before I posted this message) the size of this page is 95KB, or 0.000095GB. My Facebook page is 500KB, or 0.0005GB. So, browsing doesn’t use much compared to streaming video. Text based email is going to be even less, rounding error amounts of less. So, 4.5GB will handle lots of browsing. Some image heavy things, such as satellite view map browsing, will use much more data, but probably well withing 4.5GB for a month.

As you said it may be difficult to top up the card, my new recommendation is to find a data usage tracker. Perhaps the card itself will have a website showing it. Then use it for a week, and see how it looks. If after a week you’re at 1GB, then keep it up. If you’re at .2GB, then splurge on some shows. If you’re at 3GB, then you might need to cut back on something. If the hotel wifi is slow, you might be able to pre-download some Netflix shows during the day for evening viewing, or whatever.

Thank you all for your advice.

He’s purchased a 30 day, Internet only, 4.5 gbt card. (399 baht) All installed and functioning, yay!

Could not have done it without you! Well, we could have, but not without enormous insecurity, I’m certain. As it was we almost bought salt instead of sugar, for our tea! Yipes!

(I’ve been on this island before, that’s how I know there’s wifi signal. The tower, the peer, and electricity all arrived there, as an aftermath of the tsunami from several years ago. A few miles further north and this isle would have been destroyed. The government funded warning systems for the most at risk places. That required electric, plus tower for notification, and a peer for evacuation! On the heals of those installations came the first intrepid tourists. The electric is a titch dodgy, the wifi not the strongest, both sometimes entirely unavailable. But it’s a truly enchanting little island on the Andaman sea. Uniquely located to dive or snorkel. As it draws water from both the Indian Ocean and up from the south seas through the straights, it enjoys an unrivalled variety of marine life! And still, no cars! :D)