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Posts Tagged ‘sweden


I brought two cameras with me on my Scandinavian vacation, but I only had to use one, my iPhone.

I did not plan on this. My laptop suffered some water damage and I thought it had healed itself somehow. The display stopped working altogether on the first day so I did not have a place to transfer photos via SD card and edit them.

But I dare say that the photos I took with the phone were not half bad. I will still be adding to the galleries, but here is what I have online.

That said, I missed the laptop with its larger screen and more powerful editing tools. I also missed having simple features like captions in photos in the Google+ app. I actually had to use Teamviewer to access my home computer to add captions to the photos. Why not just wait till I got back? Simply because I would never get round to doing it.

I also had to approve transactions and sign work docs online. Our leave system is not mobile friendly and I normally have to log in twice to approve my staff members’ leave applications. Once in, I had to scroll about and zoom in/out unnecessarily so my staff could get the breaks they deserved.

I also used Teamviewer to access my work computer for intranet-only applications and to control my home computer to prepare documents for signing. I had previously used the Hello Sign app, but it accepted only PDFs and not docs. If you are mobile-only, there are not many apps that handle the file importing, converting, signing, and sending. So I did what had to be done.

But on to more positive mobile experiences.

Several hours before checking out of the hotel in Sweden, I received SMS and email notification that I could do so online. I did this and my key cards remained active for one hour after the automated checkout and I could leave the keys in the room or deposit them in a box. Convenient!

Most places in Denmark offer free wifi. There was access in cafes, hotels, buses, trains, museums, libraries, etc. I listed the places in order of ease of access (easiest to most difficult).

The cafes, hotels, and transport agencies seem to realize how many people need mobile-optimized access. Most hotels seem to realize people have more than one device. I found museums and libraries to be hit or miss because of the sheer number of people trying to access the shared resource.

I noticed more QR codes. There was one near the base of the Han Christian Andersen statue (to hear an audio story) and several at the Danish National Museum.

Before flying home, I received email from KLM to check-in. The problem at this stage of travel is not having convenient access to a printer. KLM solved that problem. The email led to a slick, pre-authenticated mobile website
which sent QR code boarding passes to my phone via email.

I eventually did not use the QR codes because there were many self-check in kiosks at Copenhagen airport. Unlike the airline-specific kiosks in airports like Changi, these were generic in that you could check in to any airline. There were several forms of authentication and I printed our boarding passes there.

I used a QR code boarding pass a few years ago in the USA and noted how the readers were not quite optimized for glass screens then. This time I noticed most people passing through the gates without delay, but there were one or two who had to pause and rescan.

Wanting to go mobile is one thing. Going mobile by circumstance and having a system ready for it is another. We just have to keep pushing for it and even demanding it. When people see how much better life can be with it, things will change.

Rising above my experiences on getting data SIMs in Sweden and Denmark, I had five overall thoughts.

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First, it helps to be organized. SIM cards are small, finicky things that are easy to lose. I carry SIMs, adapters, sticky tape, and the SIM tray pokey pin thing in an SD card case. I might consider bringing SIM cutters too.

Second, in circumstances like mine, having an unlocked, dual SIM phone like the Moto G was invaluable. This phone was a cheap spare that also served as my son’s gaming device. I used one SIM slot for Lebara SMS and calls, and the other slot for Oister data. If the Lebara SIM worked properly, the spare slot could hold any other SIM, e.g., Singapore telco SIM for updates. Having your home country’s SIM is useful for receiving updates from family, credit card use, and, ugh, work.

Third, do not assume that all telcos operate the same way. Soon after I bought the Oister starter pack, a Finn entered the store and asked for a prepaid data SIM. We started chatting and he remarked that even though it was 2014, the standards of practice of prepaid SIMs were frustratingly varied. I agreed with him. But a combination of online research and friendly chats with people can minimize the frustration.

Fourth, the easy thing to do is pay ridiculous amounts of money to your home telco for calls, SMS, and data roaming. You learn a lot more and save some money by picking up a local SIM. Having a local number is also helpful to friends or contacts you might have in the country you are visiting.

Fifth, never underestimate how much data you might use, especially if you back up or sync photos online like me. Not all telcos will help you monitor your data use (Lebara provided rough voice messages if you called and sent an SMS notification when you had 50MB left; Oister offered no notifications). So go for more data than you need to avoid complications or hassles, and use a data monitoring tool/app on your device.

Hmm, maybe I should write about getting SIMs in other places I have travelled like Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand.

Finding out how to get 3G or LTE access via prepaid SIMs while abroad is always high on my list. I often find advice on this matter in travel forums or blogs.

Bloggers tend to provide more details, but information can be out of date. So I am adding my two cents worth to the blogosphere if this helps someone in future.

Today I share my experiences and some practical tips on getting mobile access in Sweden with Comviq. Tomorrow I focus on Denmark with Lebara and Oister.

Prior to travelling in Sweden, I researched Tre (3), Lycamobile, Comviq, and Telia. I present them in the order of theoretical preference according to my criteria of cost effectiveness, availability of information, and any other outstanding factors.

This wiki was most helpful in that respect, but not all the information was accurate, current, or written from the point of view of a tourist.

Here is key information I extracted from the wiki. I provide my comments in bold italics. SEK is Swedish crowns. One SGD is worth about five SEK.

Tre (3) 3Bredband Kontant

  • SIM starter pack: 99 SEK including 5 GB vaild for 7 days (nope, must spend another 99 SEK for data)
  • APN: net.tre.se
  • Buy from 3Butiken store
  • Free (data) roaming in the 3 network of Denmark (nope, only for residents)

Lycamobile

  • SIM is free (nope, it was not)
  • 1 month: 1 GB, 69 SEK
  • APN: data.lycamobile.se
  • Username: lmse
  • Password: plus

Comviq Kontantkort

  • SIM is 49 SEK in stores
  • 1 month: 1 GB, 50 SEK
  • APN: data.comviq.se (was 4g.tele2.se in my device, very unreliable in mifi device)

Telia

  • SIM is 100SEK in stores
  • 1 month: 1 GB, 49 SEK
  • APN: online.telia.se

I thought I would go with Tre as I was in Sweden and Denmark, and the roaming option was appealing. But I found out this was available only to residents and that the initial starter pack did not include data. While I was there, stores like Kjelling and Co. were selling USB dongle starter packs for 89 SEK. But these sold like hot cakes and I only needed a SIM for my mifi device.

Tre fell off my list very quickly after I went on a wild goose chase involving two Tre and one Kjelling stores in Malmö.

Lycamobile was cheaper on paper and available at corner stores, but I could not find the package as described in the wiki. Folks were only willing to sell me a SIM and data separately. I began to realize that everything revolved around the 99 SEK mark.

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Comviq was available practically everywhere. Touts on the street offered starter packs like they were on fire. I bought one from a nice corner store owner who also helped me translate instructions in Swedish. It was 99 SEK for a SIM and 1GB of data. The SIM came in normal, micro, and nano sizes.

The SIM worked flawlessly in my iPad mini and I used it to share the internet connection whenever we were out. But I wanted to test my LTE mifi device and that is where the trouble started.

To get Internet access, I discovered that I had to reset the device several times a day or change the APN depending on where I was. There were times I had a strong signal, but no data access.

I cannot recommend Comviq for a mifi device. However, if you intend to use the SIM in a phone or slate, you should be fine.

I did not follow up with Telia in Sweden because it cost the most. My experience in Denmark with a company representative also put me off. More on that in my next entry.


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