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Internet, WiFi and Cell Phones in Croatia

Internet & Wi-Fi:  
Internet access is widely available in Croatia and broadband services are now very commonplace. Something that passes for an Internet cafe can be found pretty much anywhere – even if this consists of a PC in the corner of a bar. Usage tends to be pretty cheap.  Wi-Fi in Croatia isn’t perhaps as widespread as other major countries, although is certainly on the increase. Some towns (or parts of towns) are even setting up their own free-to-use hotspots. More and more accommodation places (particularly private accommodation) are recognizing the demand for Wi-Fi and many offer the service (either free or paid) to their guests. You will also find Wi-Fi in other typical places – bars, cafes and so on.  These days, many people travel with smartphones, tablets and the like so it’s pretty easy to search for open Wi-Fi networks and connect to open ones when and where you can. These open Wi-Fi networks are fine for casual, non-reliable usage of the internet. If you need a reliable internet connection, we highly recommend a USB wireless personal hot spot for your computer and phone.

Post:
Hrvatska Posta runs the postal service. Post offices can be found in almost all villages, towns and cities. The post service in Croatia isn’t actually too bad! If you want to send something back home, ask for marke (stamps). The company issues special edition stamps relatively frequently, so look out for those if you’re after something a little fancier.  In keeping with the main color of Hrvatska Posta, postboxes in the country are yellow and are usually affixes to walls rather than being freestanding affairs (as in the UK).

Telephone:
Payphones appear pretty much everywhere. Buy a telephone card from a newspaper kiosk for easy use – these come in various denominations.  The country access code for calling Croatia is 385.

Mobile Phones:
A mobile phone in Croatia is called a “mobitel”.  The three mobile phone networks in Croatia are
T-Mobile, VIP and Tele2. If bringing your handset from home, you will find it will hook up automatically to one of these. You also might find Tomato and BonBon, although both of these are owned by one of the main mobile companies, and not really separate networks in their own right.

If you think you’ll be using your mobile phone a reasonable amount to either make phone calls within Croatia, or text and call home, you should consider purchasing a pre-paid SIM card. The three mobile network operators all have details of these on the websites (see above) and you can buy SIMs at some news kiosks and other stores.

It’s not so much of a concern these days what with all these ultra-modern phones, but if you have a slightly older phone make sure it works on the 900 or 1800 MHz GSM frequencies that are utilized in Croatia. (Travelers from Europe shouldn’t have any problems, but travelers from further abroad, particularly North America, may need to double-check). Make sure also that, if necessary, you call your home mobile phone operator before travelling, to make sure that roaming is enabled. At the same time, you’ll probably want to switch off data roaming if you have a smartphone, so you don’t rack up crazy data charges.

Do you use your cell phone to make calls when traveling abroad? Or do you tell your friends and family back home that you’ll talk to them in a week? Your faithful glued-to-your-hand phone doesn’t have to collect dust when you’re jet-setting—take these 10+ tips for using it without breaking the bank. You’ll be calling from Paris to Paraguay and Taiwan to Tahiti in no time.

Mobile phone tips:

  1. Make sure your phone will work internationally.

The Issue: Just like radios (AM, FM, shortband, wideband), some phones can pick up multiple bands of frequencies. But unless you have a “quad band” phone (which will work in any country that has cell service), you should take the time to make sure your phone is compatible with the networks/countries you’ll be traveling through.

The Solution: The big four US service providers each offer online tools: T-Mobile’s handy chart, Verizon’s Trip Planner, AT&T’s Travel Guide, and Sprint’s Travel Tips. By the way, if you’ve got an iPhone, your service provider may allow you to unlock it.

  1. Know the difference between international long distance and roaming.

The Issue: It’s easy to confuse the rates and services offered for calling from the US to other countries (international long distance) with those for making calls when traveling abroad (international roaming).

The Solution: Identify both with your service provider. Knowing that difference means you won’t be making decisions based on the wrong rates.

  1. Get a plan.

The Issue: Part one: To add international calling as a feature to your account, your service provider may need to approve you. (Typically they look at your history with them, but may also check your credit.) Part two: You may get better rates by adding an international package to your monthly service.

The Solution: Call your service provider.

  1. Treat Canada and Mexico differently.

The Issue: Although in Canada and Mexico you can dial 10-digit local numbers just like you would in the US, some special conditions apply. If you do it right, you should expect to pay less than a buck per minute.

The Solution: Confirm with your service provider whether they charge something different (i.e. their regular global roaming rate) when the ship is docked.

  1. Treat cruise ships differently.

The Issue: Different cruise ships use different cell frequencies and command different rates. The trickiest part is that different rates may apply on the very same ship when it’s sailing in international waters as opposed to when it’s docked in port.

The Solution: Confirm with your service provider whether they charge something different (i.e. their regular global roaming rate) when the ship is docked.

  1. Turn off data roaming.

The Issue: In an effort to make voice calls when traveling overseas, you might be inadvertently using your data plan when abroad (and therefore getting charged astronomically).

The Solution: Turn off the potential troublemakers: email and other automatically updating data services. Another thing to keep in mind so you don’t accidentally incur charges is that shutting off your data like this doesn’t prevent incoming/outgoing texting, which can also get pricy.

  1. Beware of voicemail.

The Issue: If your phone is on and you let an incoming call go to voicemail, you could wind up getting charged three times—once for international roaming to get the call to your device, once by the foreign service provider to send the call back to your domestic voicemail system, and once for you to actually retrieve the message.

The Solution: Keep your phone off unless you’re expecting an important incoming call or making an outgoing call. If you have to call in for messages, do so just once or twice a day (at your international roaming flat rate). Look into the possibility of having your voicemail forwarded.

 

  1. Be sure your phone’s frequency band is set to Automatic.

The Issue: If your phone’s band is set to a US frequency, you won’t get a signal or be able to make a call.

The Solution: Under Settings, look for an option like “wireless and networks” and select that. Then make sure it’s set to automatically find a network when it’s roaming.

  1. Hold down 0 for +.

The Issue: You’ve done all the research; you’ve got a phone and plan for calling abroad; you’ve got a signal; and you’re ready to make a call. So don’t let a simple symbol hold you up.

The Solution: On many phones, you can enter the + sign just by holding down the 0 key for a second or so. Then you just need to enter the country code, city code, and local number. Of course, before you do all that, you should check with your wireless phone service provider for proper dialing instructions within and to outside the countries you’ll be in.

  1. Get help.

The Issue: On one hand, this advice may be plenty for many of you. And it’s great that the websites of all four major US service providers offer lots of info on calling abroad; but it can also be overwhelming. Sometimes, it helps to talk to a human.

The Solution: Dedicated help lines for answering questions about international services: AT&T Wireless: 800-331-0500, Sprint: 888-226-7212, T-Mobile: 877-453-1304, Verizon Wireless: 800-711-8300.