I have a long history of securing SIM cards for travel: if you have friends in Europe and want to interact with them socially, it’s a necessity.
Fortunately, this is something that has only gotten easier over the years, as mobile connectivity has become ubiquitous and mobile network competition vigorous (especially in service of the various diaspora), getting a SIM has gone from something requiring complex gymnastics (sometimes involving passport registration) to something easily picked up at the local newsstand.
There’s also a lot more information about prepaid SIMs for travelers online; the Prepaid Data SIM Card Wiki, for example, has a very helpful page for Sweden.
The other thing that’s happened of late is that roaming fees have been eliminated in Europe, meaning that it’s much easier to get a single SIM for a European trip rather than requiring a new one for each country.
Following the advice of the aforementioned wiki, I resolved to procure a Lycamobile SIM, as it’s advertised as being possible to top-up from outside of Sweden, which has always been a sticking point for me. Lycamobile is a UK firm operating an MVNO in Sweden, and it seems uncommonly diaspora-focused, which is a good thing in terms of multi-language documentation, and accessibility in our neighbourhood here.
After asking around several places and finding that they sold top-up for Lycamobile, but not SIMs, I finally found one at the nearby Pressbyrån in the bus station. I paid 49 SEK (7 CAD) for the SIM, and purchased a 100 SEK (14 CAD) top-up at the same time. I didn’t need to show ID, and I could pay by “tap” with my Canadian credit card (itself a huge improvement over the old days when foreign credit card acceptance in Scandinavia was spotty).
The 100 SEK top-up turned out to be exactly the right amount of top-up, as once I set down to register a plan online, I found that for 99 SEK I could get a 30 day plan with 8GB of data and unlimited calls and texts in Sweden, with 3GB of the data eligible for use while roaming elsewhere in the EU (Canadian readers will, at this point, be wondering why we would pay as much as 8x more than this for the Canadian equivalent).
Registration on the Lycamobile website was easy and in English; I didn’t require a Swedish personnummer (also a sticking point for previous adventures), and I was able to get English support by dialing 3332 from the phone.
I was generally happy with the Lycamobile on my trip through Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, with a few exceptions:
- While I had no problem sending and receiving SMS and calls in Sweden, the LYCA SMART L bundle I purchase didn’t include calls or SMS outside of Sweden. So I had to purchase 50 SEK of “top-up” to be able to use the SIM for anything other than data once I left Sweden, or to call or text outside of Sweden while I was in-country. This was my fault for not noticing the limitation on the description of the bundle.
- Even once I purchased the top-up, I continued to have issues with sending SMS outside of Sweden; I think this was because I didn’t set the “message centre number” (SMSC) in my SMS app on the phone, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to set that in Android 7.1 and Android Messages. I reverted to using Email, Telegram and Signal as a workaround.
- It’s hard to tell from the Lycamobile “My Account” page on its website, but I think that I only used about 500 MB of my 15 GB of data over the 13 days I used the SIM; I was unusually conservative in my data usage, based mostly by my chastening at the hands of Canada’s exorbitant mobile data rates.
- Each time I switch countries (Sweden to Denmark to Germany to the Netherlands), I had to switch the country on the SIM (via the Lycamobile SIM app that gets installed when the SIM is inserted), and then change the APN for data to data.lycamobile.se (it appeared to get erased every time I switch the country), and then, at least some of the time, reboot the phone, to get data to work properly; once I got it working in a country, it worked consistently and without further issue.
- The mobile data was vast and almost ever-present as we were traveling, with a few dead spots on the train in remoter areas.
- As I’d read elsewhere–and one of the big selling features of the Lycamobile SIM–I was able to top-up from outside of Sweden.
- I had occasion to use Lycamobile telephone support a couple of times, and found it courteous and helpful (and English speaking).