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 Israel
Some quick tips to staying connected while on the go:
By phone The country code for Israel is +972. Area codes Drop the leading 0 (zero) when calling from abroad: Jerusalem area 02 Tel Aviv-Yafo and the center 03 North 04 South 08 Sharon 09 Countrywide codes HOT 077 012 Smile 072 013 NetVision Baraq 073-7 Cellcom 073-2/3 Partner (Orange) 074-7 014 Bezeq International 076-5 Cellular carriers Pelephone 050 Cellcom 052 Orange 054 HOT Mobile 057, 053 MVNO (Mobile virtual network operators) 055 Golan Telecom 058 Access codes If you want to phone home from Israel, you need to choose which company you want to use for your international call first.
The ’00’ access code for international numbers is available only on phone lines that chose, in advance, one of the long distance carriers as their preferred provider (so it’s not available on pay phones). Smile 012 Barak 013 Bezeq International 014 XFONE 018 Note that the 018 prefix is a VOIP operator. Thus, it has the cheapest rate but a somehow lower line quality. Cellphone rentals and prepaid phone service You can rent a cellphone for use in Israel either before your trip or once you arrive from several vendors (a short Google search will give you plenty of such vendors) – The cellphone can be delivered to your home before, to your home/hotel in Israel or you can collect them at vendor’s office.
If you can not live without a smartphone you also have the option of renting one with unlimited internet and calls to foreign countries from vendors such as Israel Phone Rentals If you have a cellphone without a SIM-lock, you can buy a SIM-card which is much cheaper than either renting or buying a phone. Prepaid SIM cards are available at Pelephone (Talk & Go), Cellcom (Talk Man)and Orange (bigtalk) phone stores throughout Israel. Almost all shopping malls will have a Pelephone, Cellcom or Orange kiosk or store. As of May 2012, there have been several new network providers due to a new law meant to break up the monopoly that had been established.
One of the new providers is Golan Telecom. Their plans are lucrative for tourists, because they can be canceled monthly (meaning you can cancel it after your Israel trip), offer unlimited calls, sms and 3G internet (The other prepaid SIM cards don’t have any mobile internet.) Furthermore (and this is probably the most interesting for tourists), calls to 31 countries are free (complete list of tariffs for calls abroad) and the website and all menus are also available in English, French, Russian and Spanish. The price is just a bit above that of the prepaid cards (100 Shekel for one month + 40 Shekel delivery vs. 100 Shekel).
The only disadvantage is that you can’t buy the SIM card locally, but need to order it from their website and need to have a shipping address in Israel. Roaming with your own device: Currently Israel offers support for all the available networks including GSM/UMTS (Pelephone, Cellcome and Orange), CDMA (Pelephone) and iDen (Mirs). In any case, you must check with you carrier the roaming option and the compatibility of your device in advance. Public Phones There are still some public pay-phones scattered around, usually lacking a booth (just a phone on a pole).
These phones use a Telecart, which , today, is a pre-paid calling card (the scratch kind) that works only with pay phones and can be purchased at post offices and some stores (the original Telecard was phased out as the last factory that manufactured it was shut down), as well as ordinary calling cards. Some phones also accept cr cards, but they are very rare. In Jerusalem especially and in more Jewish-religious areas you will find public phones to be very common, as the more religious Jews tend to frown on the new mobiles with Internet access etc, resulting in a situation whereby every person with a mobile is automatically assumed to be on the Internet 24/7.
It is also possible to find privately operated pay phones that accept (outrageous) payment in coins and/or cr cards. Be warned that most storekeepers will produce their own phones (for the above-mentioned outrageous fee) when asked, in absolutely no relation as to whether there is a (much cheaper) public phone just 10 seconds away.
Other tips on staying connected while in Israel? Please add your comments and tips.