according to the Prepaid With Data wiki page for Israel, i should have been able to buy an Orange SIM card at the post office at the airport, but alas, i couldn’t find said post office. i asked where i could buy a SIM card at the information counter and they pointed me to a kiosk on the arrivals level (after you exit baggage claim) that sells and rents SIM cards. in retrospect i should have asked for the post office, but by the time i realized that, we were already waiting for the rental car shuttle that was dispatched for us.
the rental price including unlimited data was ₪30 per day, or, at seven days here, ₪210. that’s over $60. i passed on it. and then started twitching on the drive to Jerusalem because i had no connectivity. yes, i’m addicted.
we decided to stop by the Old City while we waited for check-in time at our airbnb and parked near the Damascus Gate. i’d been on the lookout for cell phone stores and post offices but the only post office i saw was not easily accessible/parkable. on the way in through the gate, though, i saw large a large orange sign in Arabic across the street and voila, there was indeed a cell phone store, Dr. Phone/iPhone (i only checked because it reminded me of the cell network Orange). the restaurant in the Google Street View image below has closed, i guess, as that’s where the large orange signs were. i don’t think they actually had anything to do with Orange the network, but it drew my attention nonetheless and got me where i needed to be.
Orange via Dr. iPhone. really helpful and efficient (to the point of being WAY too speedy) employees, very good English by the person who i dealt with. there were three people working this tiny kiosk doing anything and everything cell phone related, from selling SIM cards/phones/accessories to troubleshooting apps to fixing shattered backs. the guy who helped us was doing three things at once and never got lost or confused — i was really impressed!
what you need
nothing. no passport, no forms, no signature.
i ended up getting a SIM card for ₪20 and 3 GB of data (definitely overkill, now that i think about it) for ₪80, so a total of ₪100 ($28.72) or less than half of what they wanted at the airport. 1 GB of data was available i think for ₪20 less. note, there is no allowance for voice as far as i know, which is fine with me, though i am able to accept calls. my dad bought a SIM card with call credit, ₪60 including ₪53 of usable funds. we paid a total of ₪180, so i think he charged ₪10 commission per card (he was speaking very quickly — but not trying to deceive — just working really fast). i did sign my dad up for the 100 MB plan (₪27.17) just now (hours later) in case he has data turned on which will slowly eat away at his balance and because i know he’ll never use up ₪53 of credit. instructions for adding that package are on the Prepaid With Data wiki page (tl;dr, call *4555 for automated service).
immediate. the man was ridiculously adept at navigating through my phone and verifying everything was set up correctly.
coverage and speeds
so far, so good! there are parts in Old Jerusalem where i was surrounded by high walls and i dropped down to GPRS but for the most part i have 3 to 5 bars of solid 3G.
here’s Dr. iPhone’s business card (since he gave me one, i figured why not share it.)