There are many providers in Austria (quite likely more than you would expect in such a small country):
- A1: The formerly state owned mobile provider. It is said that they still offer the best coverage and good quality service. However – if you have to call their agents, be prepared for a long wait on hold.
- Orange: The second largest mobile network provider. Orange claims to offer best voice quality and has special offers for european roaming services.
- Tele-ring: The discount provider. Almost bankrupt but they are aggressively attacking the bigger providers.
- T-Mobile: Former max.mobil has good network coverage and cheap prices. Many Austrians use this network.
- 3: This is the company Hutchinson. They are pursuing the multimedia approach and sell only UMTS handsets. Rates within the 3 network are very cheap, but calling to other networks can be costly. Check the details of your contract!
- Yesss: The newest discount provider has caused a lot of turmoil by giving hints on their website how to unlock your SIM card and use their service. Good rates but (as it is said) bad service when you need their assistance.
So which provider should you choose?
This is a tricky one. Not only do you have to choose a provider, but also a contract type – and differences are huge. Best approach is to estimate your calling habits and look around what your friends have. If you have just 3 buddies and they all have the same provider – go for it and then you can benefit from low (or even free) rates within the network. It is very easy to know your friend’s provider: just look at their number prefix, as this indicates the provider.
Handsets ( Handys) are very cheap or even for free if you make a contract. For pre-paid cards you have to pay around €25 for an average handset and get the same amount as calling bonus on top. However, pre-paid rates are much higher compared to contracts.