Cultural: Cell phones
When we first came to Poland in 1994, cell phones were very large and very expensive. However, getting a land line seemed to be almost impossible. They told us they had no more open lines/numbers available. Because of this situation, we were without any phone in our home for about a year and a half. It was tough - as we were using a modem for our email - even back then. We had to take our emails over to a friend's and mail them from there a few times a week.
But that's not the point of this little cultural update.
Fast forward quite a few years.
Competition has been stiff with regards to cell phones - over here they are commonly called mobile phones.
Phone companies have come and gone. Some have been bought out by others.
- We are now down to 4 main cell phone providers - t-mobile, Orange, Plus and Play.
- No, there is no "free phones" program from the government that I know of here in Poland. If they did have something like that it would be from the EU - as they do have a laptop program for the poor funded by the EU.
- When I got my first phone, I kept forgetting that I had it, or didn't recognize the ring tone, so my husband would call but I didn't notice that anyone was calling - after all, it was stuck down in the bottom of my purse and my vehicle was noisy! And I didn't have any internet on it - or if I did, I didn't know how to use it!
- Through the years, the costs here in Poland have dropped considerably. It is now almost impossible to find someone who does not own a mobile phone - child or adult. It not unusual for people to own 2 or more phones - with different numbers.
Mine is a hand-me-down from my husband!
Currently, I can charge my phone for about 20 zl a month - that is under $8- and while I do pay for each phone call, I don't talk enough on the phone to worry about it. I have a lot of internet access, though and can send messages and use it almost unlimited. I never come close to using it all up because we have WiFi in our house and I am home a lot.
The big companies have two types of access - ones with a contract, and ones without - those you simply charge up once a month, or however often. You need to do it regularly though or you won't be able to call. Obviously the ones with the contract are similar to the states with the accompanying penalties for breaking the contract.
I do not particularly enjoy talking in Polish on the phone- though I do, of course. Last fall when I charged my phone, I put 200 zl (about $60) on it and I am okay through the end of September, unless I were to use it all up - but I had extra money from before. I can receive phone calls all day and it doesn't cost me anything, unlike companies like Trak Phones in the USA that seem to charge whether you make or receive a call.
When Daniel and Lydia were here over Christmas, we got them a month's of service including unlimited text and calling and 6 gigs of internet for 25 zl. That's about $7.50! We thought that was incredibly cheap! Of course, they had their own phones! That was with t-mobile and no contract.
- Here we are now required to register any cell phone number you buy. There are no more "throw away" numbers. All numbers are registered or they can not be activated.
- When they first made the law, there was a grace period where every number from every company had to have a name and address connected to it. This is to help combat terrorism as they seem to specialize in using prepaid cell phones that are anonymous. I'm fine with that.
- A number itself costs less than $2 - for the tmobile ones it is 5 zl.
- I think that more people here use Samsung phones and other brands like Sony and not necessarily i-phones. I know that in the USA, it starts to feel like "everyone" has an i-phone. It is not so here. I think they are just too expensive for most people- and people love their phones, so access is more vital than having the most expensive.
- Nowadays you see people talking on them and using them all the time. - just like everywhere in the world, it seems. It may be illegal to talk on them when you are driving, but it doesn't stop people from doing it.
Happy calling! I know I'm thankful for mine. We almost never get a real phone call to our land line anymore. Those phone calls are pretty much telemarketers trying to get us set up with some sales meeting.
The people who really need to contact me use my cell.
Cell phones are ubiquitous in Poland! Big surprise!
And now you know!
And that's it! I hope this finds you having a great day wherever you are reading this!
And be sure to check out what my sis has for you in the store!