I arrived in Barcelona yesterday for the Mobile World Congress which does not start until next Monday (or Sunday, depending whether you count the pre-congress parties or not...) but it's nice to be here a couple of days early to relax a bit. I am usually used to just replace my SIM card with a local one or at least with one that has acceptable roaming rates and get connected in a couple of minutes. What I experienced yesterday, however, reminds me of days that I thought were long gone.
After having arrived at the airport I replaced my French SIM with one from German MVNO "Medion - Alditalk" to check my e-mails on the mobile before I could top up my local SIM card or buy a new one after baggage claim. Unfortunately, while the SIM card booked into the circuit switched part of two networks o.k., I could not get a data connection on the packet switched side (GPRS attach fail). O.k. Medion - Alditalk is not really known for their stable network operation so I moved to plan B.
From last year I still have two local SIM cards from Yoigo. One was not working anymore, while the other still booked into the network (both CS and PS attach ok). No idea why one is still activated and the other is not!? Anyway, so I went to the next store at the airport to put some money on it again (the balance was at zero since they deduct 6 euros per month if not used). Unfortunately I had to find out that you have to know the phone number to top up. Eh, sorry, can't remember, I am used to scratch card top ups...
All right, time for plan C, by now already at the hotel. My German Vodafone SIM card with the Websession option gives me 50 MB of traffic for 15 euros / 24h while roaming. While it worked fine on the Vodafone Spain 2G network, my N95 refused to work on their 3G network (PS attach ok, PDP context activation ok, but only spurious ping replies). Network/mobile incompatibility? Hm, so I put the SIM card in my E220 3G USB dongle but the effect was still the same. So either the 3G cell near the hotel is having problems or there is a more serious problem up the line.
So plan D for the moment is to use the Vodafone SIM on the slow GPRS network for mobile use and the crappy hotel Wi-Fi for the notebook. In the meantime the Medion - Alditalk SIM is booking into the GPRS network of Orange again, so I could now also use that.
Well, I guess that was not really my connectivity day... Let's hope things work out better today. All this and the 50.000 people coming to the congress haven't even started yet to put load on the networks in Barcelona.