During an August trip to Switzerland, I decided to try the Swiss carrier Sunrise for my communication needs which includes; texting my traveling partner, using Google Maps for bike touring navigation, reading emails, and for my web work. We travelled with two iPhones and one MacBook Air staying exclusively at Swiss or Italian campgrounds. The iPhones are both unlocked with iOS 4.3 and the MacBook Air has Apple’s new Lion OS installed.
Upon arrival in Switzerland, I investigated three of the six possible prepaid carriers: Swisscom, Orange, and Sunrise. I decided to try Sunrise’s voice-text-data prepaid plan. With Sunrise you pay CHF20.00 for each SIM card, we needed two for our two iPhones. Sunrise has regular SIM cards, but if you have a 4G iPhone with a micro SIM slot, their regular SIM cards can easily be reduced to the micro SIM size (no SIM cutting necessary).
Sunrise also gives you a credit of CHF20.00 to start your prepaid account, hence, your Sunrise SIM card is basically free. Sunrise charges CHF7.50 per month for 250MB/month for data use and overages costs 10Rp.(cents) per MB. As a Sunrise promotion, they currently wave the $7.50 for the first month.
So how long did this take to get two iPhones setup and paid for in the Sunrise store? About ten minutes. My Sunrise rep spoke good English, and handed me two SIM cards and told me they would be activated 15 minutes later. By the time I got back to our campground, both iPhones had voice-text-data capability. A pleasant surprise was that the iPhones needed no additional configuration within the iPhones’ Settings app, just plugin the SIM and 15 minutes later, you are up and running.
I have been using Sunrise for 10 days now, and I have only used CHF8.50 of my initial CHF20.00 credit. If you call *121# you can see your prepaid account balance. Sunrise knows where you are in Europe and when I was riding my bike up Nufennon Pass near the Italian border, Sunrise sent me a text message with all the roaming rates if I used my phone in Italy. When you signup with Sunrise, have them set your desired language, so you can understand text messages from Sunrise.
When I needed to work online with my MacBook Air and I didn’t have a wifi connection, I could easily tether my iPhone to my laptop with the USB/30pin Apple cable. Just connect the USB cable from the iPhone to the MacBook (w/Lion OS) and go into the Settings App and turn on Personal Hotspot. Again, no additional Sunrise configuration necessary, this gives your laptop a 3G internet connection almost anywhere in Switzerland. In some locations, the Sunrise 3G wireless connection was more reliable than the available wifi network. With 2 bars of 3G cellular signal strength, I get about 1.5Mbps of download speed and .2Mbps of upload speed.
In summary, I would recommend Sunrise to anyone traveling in Switzerland with frugal bandwidth needs and wanting reasonable wireless internet.