It’s said that the biggest fear one has it that of public peaking. For me, my biggest fear is not having cellular service, and not being able to connect while on the go.

So, how does one connect while in Poland

Some quick tips to staying connected while on the go:
Landline phones There is the de facto monopoly operator for landline phones – TP (Polish: Telekomunikacja Polska), a subsidiary of France Telecom, renowned for its leaving-much-to-be-desired services. There is also a number of smaller, often regional operators (Dialog, Netia, NOM, Energis). They are mainly serving the business market. Mobile phones

There are four mobile phone operators in Poland: Plus (code 260 01), T-Mobile (formerly ERA) (260 02), Orange (260 03) and Play . Most of them have information avalible in Polish only. Their prepaid servicies are often calls “na kart?”. Prepaid brands or virtual brands with english information on it’s web sides are as follow: Heyah , Klucz , Lycamobile and Vectone . About 98% of the country’s surface is covered by the standard European GSM 900/1800 MHz network, the remaining 2% are wildlife reserves or high mountains. UMTS is available in in about 50% of the country.

Domestic call rates are roughly the same across all services. Prepaid starter kits with SIM card (called starter in Polish) are widely available in reasonable prices (from 5 to 20 PLN, of witch most is available for calls), in many shops (for example ?abka and most malls). Ask for starter and be sure to name the network You want. Accounts are valid for outgoing calls for few days, so it is good to fill them up for, lets say, 20 PLN (Do?adowanie [do-wa-do-va-nye] in Polish, be sure to give the value you want).

Polish telephone numbers All telephone numbers in Poland are 9 digits long, and never start with 0 – although they used to do so. Sometimes numbers are written the old way, that is often only the last 7 digits are listed, in which case you need to prefix the now obligatory area code (eg. 22 – Warsaw, 61 – Poznan, 12 – Krakow) – OR a 0 is included in the beginning, in which case it must be skipped. As of yet, it does not matter whether you call from a landline or a mobile.

poland mobile phone photo

Photo by ImagineCup

There are some special numbers, notably: 800 xxxxxx – toll-free call from a landline phone and from a phone booth, but may still cost something from a mobile phone 801 xxxxxx – reduced fare, costs as much as a local call from a landline phone at most (but will cost more from a mobile phone) 70x xxxxxx – premium fare, can be very expensive – read the fine print in that advert you’ve got the number from :).

On the other hand, cheap international calls can often be made through special numbers beginning with 708. Also, texting (= sending SMSes) to: 7xxx – Premium SMS, 2nd digit is cost in Zloty plus 23% tax, eg 72xx costs PLN2.46, 70xx is less than one Zloty. 7xxxx – can cost quite much (again, read the small print) 8xxx – is toll-free When calling overseas, use 00, or +, and then country code.

International calls To call abroad from Poland: From a landline phone: 00 Your Country Code The Number Abroad From a mobile phone: + Your Country Code The Number Abroad To call to Poland from abroad, dial the Polish country code,48, then the number without the leading 0, as if calling from a domestic mobile phone.

International and roaming calls are expensive. To reduce your bill you can: buy “phone cards” for international calls activate a Polish pre-paid account to make or receive calls (the cost can be as little as PLN20) talk over the Internet get virtual number from your country Internet If you’re bringing a laptop, Wireless LAN Hot-Spots are available in distinct places, sometimes free, otherwise not very cheap. Best chances of finding one are at airports, railway stations, in cafés, shopping malls and universities. You can ask in your hotel, but be prepared to pay.

For those who need to connect at an internet cafe, fear not, because Poland’s major cities have internet cafes. With your mobile phone you can use: CSD, HSCSD, GPRS or EDGE, but the cost may be unattractive. UMTS/HSPA is available in almost every big and mid-size cities. If your phone is not SIM-locked, you may consider purchasing a pre-paid SIM card designed for data access. Every mobile operator offering his own pre-paid internet offer.

You may purchase Era Blueconnect Starter, iPlus Simdata, Orange Free na kart? or Play Online na kart?. Internet service from Era, Plus and Orange covers all country area with GPRS/EDGE technology. In almost every big, medium and some small size cities it’s possible to recive 3G/3.5G signal. Era – Blueconnect Starter – cost: 25 PLN – 83MB data included – 0,30 PLN / 1MB Plus – iPlus simdata – cost: 20 PLN – 67MB data included – 0,30 PLN / 1MB Orange – Orange free na kart? – cost: 20 PLN – 65MB data included – 0,30 PLN / 1MB Play – Play Online na kart? – cost: 19 PLN – 1GB data included NOTE: Play network does NOT cover the entire country.

You can use internet service only in cities listed on this map . Despite this, voice services are still available in whole country. Play Internet is only 3G capable. It means, that you need modem or phone that supports 3G technology. Play also limits speed of his internet up to 1Mb/s to provide satisfactory speed connection for reasonable price. You can refill your Play account with 30 or 50 PLN Top-up for 30 PLN – 2GB data traffic valid for 28 days Top-up for 50 PLN – 4GB data traffic valid for 56 days You can also consider buying a wireless 3G modem from Play Starter kit with HSDPA modem + 1GB data traffic valid for 14 days costs 269 PLN Starter kit with HSDPA modem + 31GB data traffic valid for 365 days costs 499 PLN If you want to communicate with Poles, you’ll need two programs – Gadu-Gadu , a Polish language instant messenger program, or Skype . Gadu-Gadu will be difficult to use for non-Polish speaking people, but alternatives such as Adium (Mac OSX), Kadu (Mac OSX/Linux), and Pidgin (Linux, Windows), all of which can be used in English, can be helpful.

Other tips on staying connected while in Poland? Please add your comments and tips.