5. August 2017

Mobile Data via Wind in Italy

Wind is one of the three providers in Italy for mobile phone and data. On my farm in South Tyrol it’s the best choice for data, according to experience and a local site showing the transmitters. So I decided for a prepaid Sim card by Wind, from the local electronic store. (The name Wind probably was derived from a former name, Weather Investments.)

Here you see my old mobile router (white box) with USB charger always plugged in. My Wind Simcard is in there. Newer routers should have LTE as well. (2G GPRS is practically unusable, insist on at least 3G, i.e. HSUPA, or super fast 4 G LTE.)
   As I am in Italy only sporadically, I turn my Simcard data service on and off (important!) as needed. I take the lowest portion offered per month, 5 Gigabyte for 9 Euro. 
   If my 5 Gigabytes are used up prematurely, the speed falls back to the old analog phone modem speed; the service is not totally cut!  That’s still ok for e-mail and browsing with patience, see http://blogabissl.blogspot.com/2017/07/datenvolumen-minimieren.html (in German).
   To avoid regular automatic continuation of the service while I’m absent, i.e. to stop ongoing monthly deductions of 9 Euro, I pause the subscription before I leave; very important (by sending a SMS to 4033 with 3GB NO).
   
You communicate with Wind via SMS from the data Sim card. That’s free of charge and direct. For some commands it’s the only way. 
   If you have the Sim card in a mobile phone, short messaging is easy. In my case the card is in a mobile router, so I have to locally log into the control page of this router with my browser: the pre-set local IP address of the mini router is http://192.168.0.1/ with login as “admin”. (If you don’t know the internal IP address, a so called NAT address of the router: It’s normally printed on there; or use an IP scanner.) I run the mobile router and its Wi-Fi hotspot without any encryption for ease of use.
   The SMS commands to Wind (either to 4033 or to 4155), free of charge, must be in capital letters and precisely as given:

Reactivate service when you come:        4033   5GB SI 
Pause service before you leave Italy:      4033   5GB NO
Restart the new period prematurely:     4033   RESTART 5 GIGA SI
Question status of data and charge:       4155    SALDO
Question data status:                                 4155    DATI

Please watch the reply SMSs by Wind, in case of “SALDO” sometimes even two of them. You get a message when you have less than 20 percent of fast data left. And delete SMSs in the mobile router, as it can hold only a small number of SMSs on the card. 
   Why Wind uses two different service numbers, only the wind will know …

The other way to control (and recharge!) your account is via Internet at
http://www.wind.it/it/privati/. I found no English or German dialogue there, sorry. You log in with the mobile phone number of your Sim card as the user name, in one number block, like 3246121902, and a password established during registration. To recharge only you need not log in at all. The recharging mechanism is general purpose to recharge any pre-paid card.
   Via Internet you can then check your data state (« visualizza dettagli », look at details):
In this case I had 98% of my 5 GB left. The next period would start on August 30, 2016. This corresponds to the DATI question via SMS.
   I can also look online at my “financial status” with Wind:
In this case I had a credit of Euro 23,24, the tariff was Wind 2, today I run Wind 1. (Never let your credit become a debit; in this case you won’t even be able to send an SMS!). This corresponds to the SALDO command via SMS.
   Clicking on RICARICA (recharge) I can add credit, and pay for example with Paypal or a credit card. This is less nice but more convenient than buying credit at the next newsstand or local bar.

Link to this blog post here:
https://blogabissl.blogspot.com/2017/08/mobile-data-via-wind-in-italy.html

Keywords: Prepaid Data Sim Italy, Sim card purchase in Italy, Buying a Sim card in Italy, Internet access in Italy, Local Italian Sim card, Roaming in Italy, Prepaid Data Sim in Italy, Prepaid Internet in Italy, mobile hotspot …

PS. If nothing else helps, and you must call a human for help, use the Wind Sim card and dial 155. Don’t try to call the 155 from another number; that’s supposed to work, but doesn’t. 
   If you want to send SMSs from your Wind card to other mobile numbers, use the country prefix in any case, e.g. +39… for Italy. The same is true, if you send a SMS from your home mobile phone in Italy. Good luck!
   – On some rainy Saturday evenings I fell out of the net again and again in a couple of minutes. Turning the router off and on helped. 

When the DNS disappears
   On Sept. 19, 2017, some of my usual addresses could not be reached any more, they even didn’t ping any more. So I suspected an error with the Domain Name Service DNS, the table (hierarchy) that makes an IP number from a given IP name. My Windows 7 acknowledged this error when trying to “repair” my Internet connection. 

So I looked into my mobile router and found – under WAN “Mobile Broadband” (wide area network, the mobile over the air service) – that the DNS line was empty, connection and connection method both set to Automatic, see above. That’s how it normally works. The DNS address is not shown locally, the network apparently knows it internally. But as the DNS mechanism actually didn’t work
   I manually changed to the setting to Manual (as shown in the screenshot below) and entered 212.245.255.2, hit ok, and all connections miraculously worked again!
Note that the DNS mechanism works with a hierarchy of tables buffering (caching) the information. The lowest level of DNS is within your PC, so some of your recently addressed IP addresses (names) will still work, even if higher DNS tables are not accessible.   

Wind offerings (in English – in Greece?):
 https://www.wind.gr/en/for-individual/wind-mobile-broadband/

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