15Dec2018

TRAVERSING THE DIGITAL FRONTIER: MY EXPERIENCES DISCOVERING THE BEST INTERNET OPTIONS IN ESTONIA – Mariam (GEORGIA)

As an incoming International student, I perceived Estonia, with its prominent reputation as a pioneer of the digital frontier, as a land where cheap internet was as easy to find as air. And yes, to a large extent that is true, but I was surprised by how difficult it was to find the best prepaid SIM card option for mobile Internet. Maximizing the available amount of data and minimizing the amount I spent was a challenge, but I managed to find an effective solution.

First Step: Uninformed shopping

As did most of the foreigners without a Temporary Residence Permit, I bought a prepaid SIM card from Telia, which provided five gigabytes worth of Internet access for eight euros. Calls and messages were also included, but I am not focusing on either of those for the sake of parsimony. I primarily want to discuss Internet options available from prepaid SIM cards offered by mobile companies. In retrospect, this was quite expensive, but I accepted and ended up using those five gigabytes in less than a week. It was quite disheartening and caused me to start wondering why people were telling me that good options were available from companies here. I became determined to find out if there really were better choices available.

Second Step: Searching for better options

I was told that if you are a contract-based client you can get 12 gigabytes for 10 euros. This is certainly better than the first one, but still expensive. By that time, I was calling companies almost every day to see what sort of advice they could give me. During one of the calls from me, the assistant I was speaking to asked me why I didn’t choose a plan which would provide 25 gigabytes for 12 euros, as compared to the 12gigabytes for 10 euros plan I had chosen before. I was totally shocked because I did not have any idea that an offer like this existed when they offered me the more expensive package. I immediately adopted the new package, but this is not the end of my story.

Third Step: Making a deal

I asked about my problem in one of the Facebook groups for incoming students and received an invaluable tip from one of the more experienced foreigners, who recommended that I play different mobile companies off of each other to obtain a better deal. As I was already a client for Telia, I went to Elisa and told them that I had purchased a mobile Internet plan from Telia, but found it to be too expensive for my tastes. I asked what sort of offer I could receive if I switched to a plan provided by Elisa.  This got me the best option by far: it turned out that if you switched from Telia to Elisa, you could get a plan which would provide 30 gigabytes of data for only seven euros, saving you an additional four euros on the original price of the plan. This is the whole magic of obtaining a cheap mobile Internet plan in Estonia. Don’t accept plans at facevalue, see what sorts of options exist when you switch from one provider to another. You just might find the best possible solution!

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