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Iliad Italy Review: The Cheapest Is Surprisingly Good (+5G Speedtests)

In March 2022, I decided to go on a big trip.

I visited Portugal, Spain, Andorra, Italy, Malta, Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia & Slovenia.

I felt like going out again because I was at home for a year after coming back from Taiwan, also for a year, in March 2021.

There were many travel restrictions in 2021, but many were being lifted throughout the European Union.

Because of that, I wanted to take the opportunity (re-)test 41 local SIM cards, like Iliad, Airalo's Eurolink Europe eSIM, Nomad's Europe eSIM & SimCorner's Europe travel SIM cards.

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And because my partner wanted me back in Australia as soon as possible, I tried to fit as many countries in one trip before heading back to Australia (yes, I am writing this from Australia now while I am fighting an angry kangaroo).

Tray of SIM Cards by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz

If you have read any of my SIM card buying guides before, like the Italian one, or watched a YouTube video of mine, you know that I am crazy enough to buy and test so many SIM cards.

If this is your first Phone Travel Wiz review – welcome.

I buy and test all/most SIM cards in a country and tell you which ones are the best so that you do not have to 😎.

Iliad Italy SIM Card Held by Adu

You may have already read some blogs or articles saying that Iliad is the best because they are so cheap.

It is indeed (one of) the cheapest option in Italy, but does that make Iliad the best?

The only way to find out is to test Iliad and compare it with the other Italian SIM cards (Wind Tre (formerly Wind and Tre), TIM Italy & Vodafone Italy).

And that is what I did – and I will share my experience in this review.

Let's get started, shall we?

Iliad Italy SIM Card Held by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz
Iliad Italy Review by Phone Travel Wiz

Original publication: 20th of May 2022. Last updated: 15th of January 2024.

Table of Contents

Who is Iliad?

Iliad Italy Logo
© Iliad Italy

Iliad is not a name you have heard before if you have already purchased SIM cards in other countries.

That is because the Iliad brand is used only in Italy.

Unlike Orange, Telekom/T-Mobile & Vodafone, which are active in many countries throughout Europe.

Even then, you may have already read other sites and blogs recommending Iliad because it is so cheap.

And they were not lying – you can get a 120 GB data plan for just 9.99 EUR.

Yes… 120 GB for 10 EUR – not many mobile operators offer such a generous data allowance for such a low price.

* cries in Canadian, where they charge 29 CAD for a 500 MB plan on prepaid 🥲😭 *

Anyway, let's just focus on Iliad, as it is actually active in various European countries using different names.

Free Mobile in France (where Iliad started), eir in Ireland & Play in Poland.

Alright, that is more than enough Iliad history for now.

In Italy, you have four mobile operators, which I will list in order of market share:

  • Wind Tre (formerly Wind and Tre)
  • TIM Italy
  • Vodafone Italy
  • Iliad

Of course, I tested the other three mobile operators during my trip to Italy in March. You can read them here: Wind Tre review, TIM Italy review & Vodafone Italy review.

Buying a SIM Card in Italy Guide (logos of Coop Voce, Digi, Fastweb, Ho Mobile, Iliad, Kena Mobile, Lycamobile, PosteMobile, TIM, Tiscali, Very Mobile, Vodafone & Wind Tre)

You also have plenty of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in Italy, such as Coop Voce, Digi Mobil & Lycamobile Italy.

The entry of Iliad to Italy shook the market so much because Iliad had such low prices that the big three other mobile operators all launched discount brands to stay competitive with Iliad (like Kena Mobile by TIM Italy, Very Mobile by Wind Tre & ho. Mobile by Vodafone Italy).

I guess the Big Three were afraid of Iliad 😏.

Iliad Italy SIM Card

While Iliad is still the smallest mobile operator in the country, it does have good coverage and speeds.

That is in the cities, at least – many report lackluster service in the countryside.

Even then, I managed to get fast 5G NR speeds with Iliad too.

But I will talk more about Iliad's speeds later.

First, we have to talk about its coverage after these quick frequency details:

  • 2G: N/A – never had it
  • 3G: 900 MHz & 2100 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 1800 MHz (Band 3) & 2600 MHz (Band 7)
  • 5G NR: 3500 MHz (n78)
  • VoLTE: Yes
  • VoWiFi: No

Here you have Iliad's APN settings:

  • Name: Iliad
  • APN: iliad

Note: leave anything not mentioned above untouched.

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Iliad Coverage + My Experience

You can have a mobile operator providing you 1 Gbps download speeds.

But if it covers only one street in the entirety of Italy, it will be useless.

So, how is Iliad's coverage?

The worst in Italy.

Opensignal claimed that Iliad has the worst 4G/LTE coverage experience, with a score of 9.2 (on a 10-point scale), while its competitors TIM Italy, Vodafone Italy & Wind Tre are on par with a score of 9.8.

But we should not forget that Iliad is not even 5 years old.

Its competitors had much longer to build and beef up their 4G/LTE networks,

When looking at 5G NR, Iliad is the second-worst, with a 5G NR availability of 2.7% of the time – ahead of TIM Italy (1.9%) but behind Vodafone Italy (8.1%) and Wind Tre (22.9%).

Iliad's 5G NR reach score is 0.9 – ahead of TIM Italy again (0.7) but behind Vodafone Italy (2.5) and Wind Tre (4.6).

Iliad has only three plans (Voce, Giga 80 & Giga 120).

The Giga 120 plan allows you to use 5G NR… and it only costs 9.99 EUR with 120 GB (!) of data.

Yes… mobile data is crazy cheap in Italy!

More about plans later – I am still covering coverage!

So far, I have been talking about coverage from other reports, but what was my coverage experience with Iliad?

Surprisingly good, I have to say – especially after analyzing numerous reports stating Iliad's coverage is whack.

Iliad Italy SIM Card

The last time I was in Italy (so before March 2022) was before Iliad existed, so I could not have tested it then.

Anyway, the reception on the metro was quite good.

Sure, I had some blackouts here and there, but Iliad performed much better than TIM Italy and Wind Tre in that regard.

Here you have Iliad's coverage map:

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How to Get an Iliad SIM Card & Prices

Now you have a basic understanding of Iliad and the telecom market in Italy, it is now time to talk about how to actually get an Iliad SIM card.

Unlike many countries in Europe, especially the European Union, you have to visit an Iliad store to get your Iliad SIM card.

That is because of the SIM card registration laws in Italy – SIM card registration is mandatory.

You just have to present your passport (or ID if you are from another European Union nation).

  • Find out which countries have SIM card registration regulations and what is required from you (lookup tool)
SIM Card Registration Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

Italian SIM cards are not sold by third parties, like grocery stores or convenience stores like in many other countries.

I bought my Iliad SIM card at Rome Termini train station, which has always been a train station but has become a mall in recent years.

But here is a store locator in case you visit another place in Italy.

This particular Iliad store looked more like a pop-up store, but it is permanently there.

Iliad Italy Store in Rome

Before I tell you how much SIM cards cost, I need to inform you about the… new SIM card process in Italy.

Well, it is not really a process, but every mobile operator has a policy, you could say.

You see, when you buy an Italian SIM card, it always has to be done in combination with a plan.

That is fair – no problem… Except for the fact that there is an activation fee you need to pay too.

Iliad is the only Italian mobile operator that does not charge activation fees 🥳.

You just pay for the SIM card, which costs 9.99 EUR, and the plan you want (up to 9.99 EUR – Giga 120).

I will list all the prices in EUR (Euro).

To convert EUR to your currency (let's say GBP – (British) Pound (Sterling)) with up-to-date exchange rates, use the Wise Currency Converter tool.

Wise Currency Exchange Banner
© Wise

Disclaimer: the SIM card prices mentioned in the review were current when I was in Italy – the offering and prices may have changed since then. To see Iliad Italy's current starter packs, check out my Italy SIM card buying guide.

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But hold up – it is not just handing over the cash, and you are done.

No – you have to deal with the Iliad terminal, like the one below.

Iliad Italy Terminal

Now, Iliad is not known for having stellar customer service (in fact, none of the Italian mobile operators do – but Iliad is the worst in that regard).

This machine is in Italian only.

In many Iliad stores, you have to deal with the machine yourself, as employees often cannot be bothered to help you out.

At this store, however, there were two employees who would assist you.

Part of the identity check is that you have to say an Italian phrase while the machine records a video of you.

Luckily, you can read the phase on the screen.

My issue was that I had to take off your glasses to do so.

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I do wear glasses.

Why would this be a surprise? Because I normally record YouTube videos without glasses (because of the bluelight filter my glasses have – you would see a blue flare if I did not take them off).

Let's say this part of the SIM card registration process took me longer than the regular customer because (1) I could not read the phase, and (2) my Italian is basically non-existent 🥴.

After the SIM card registration process was done and a plan was selected, I paid for my SIM card by debit card, and the machine dispensed my brand new SIM card.

You get a receipt like the one below that you should not throw away.

Iliad Italy Receipt & Login Details

By default, Iliad will enroll you into auto-renewal, meaning you will be charged for your plan until you cancel.

Apparently, it can be a pain in the @ss to disable auto-renewal without your Iliad login.

Otherwise, you have to call Iliad (and deal with Italian-speaking customer service agents) or send a fax, as if we are still living in the 80s.

I was charged for an extra month because I was too busy testing 41 local SIM cards during my Europe trip.

I contacted Iliad support on Instagram, and they sent me these instructions on how to disable auto-renewal.

Iliad Italy Disable Auto-Renewal Instructions

Afterward, I was not charged anymore.

Be aware that although Iliad has eSIMs for prepaid customers, it is a complicated process to get (especially if you cannot read Italian).

If you truly want an eSIM or do not want to deal with Italy's SIM card registration scheme (mandatory), consider getting a travel eSIM for Italy.

I compare the best Italy travel eSIMs in my comparison guide and also drop a few discount codes for you 😏.

Buying an eSIM for Italy Guide (logos of Holafly, Nomad, Eurolink, Discover+, Mamma Mia, Alosim & Airalo)
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Iliad Plans, Bundles & Offers

Iliad has only three data-featured prepaid plans – literally three plans, not even three types of plans. Three plans.

And you will not spend more than 9.99 EUR on an Iliad plan.

These Plans are available, which can be activated online.

Disclaimer: these were the available plans at the time I was in Italy – the offering may have changed since then (including whether 5G NR is available to prepaid customers or not). To see Iliad Italy's current plans, check out my Italy SIM card buying guide (which gets updated regularly – at least once a year).

Buying a SIM Card in Italy Guide (logos of Coop Voce, Digi, Fastweb, Ho Mobile, Iliad, Kena Mobile, Lycamobile, PosteMobile, TIM, Tiscali, Very Mobile, Vodafone & Wind Tre)

I will list all the prices in EUR (Euro).

To convert EUR to your currency (let's say GBP – (British) Pound (Sterling)) with up-to-date exchange rates, use the Wise Currency Converter tool.

Wise Currency Exchange Banner
© Wise
PricePlanDataEU/EEA DataLocal/EU Minutes 1Local/EU SMS 1Validity
4.99 EURVoce40 MBShared with data allowanceUnlimitedUnlimited1 month
7.99 EURGiga 8080 GB6 GBUnlimitedUnlimited1 month
9.99 EURGiga 120120 GB 27 GBUnlimitedUnlimited1 month

1 for calls/SMS within and to other EU/EEA member states and back to Italy (NOT from Italy to other EU/EEA member states)
2 with 5G NR access

You also get a call allowance for international use. However, they can only be used for calling fixed-line phones.

So I will not list the countries you can call to.

Iliad Italy Plans

EU Roaming

You can use your Iliad allowances in the following EU/EEA member states without paying roaming fees:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • French Guiana
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Guadeloupe
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Martinique
  • Mayotte
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Réunion
  • Romania
  • Saint Barthélemy
  • Saint Martin
  • Saint Pierre et Miquelon
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

Be aware that, in some cases, the EU/EEA roaming allowance is lower than the domestic allowances.

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Iliad Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check

Iliad top-ups are sold in Iliad stores.

I did not have to recharge my Iliad SIM card because Italy was a short stop on my one-month Europe trip.

But I was still automatically charged anyway 🙄.

Anyway, to top-up your Iliad SIM card, follow the instructions given on the Iliad Sim-Box machine (the terminal shown earlier).

Iliad Italy Sim-Box
© Iliad

You can also recharge online with (international/EU) debit and credit cards.

You can check your balance online.

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Iliad Speed Test Results (in Catania & Rome)

Alright, now it is time to talk about the speeds you can expect to get with Iliad after covering all the other essential topics like coverage.

But before I share my 15 speed test results from Catania, Rome & Vatican City, I do want to set the stage first and make a small comparison with Iliad's competition.

Iliad is, surprisingly, not the slowest mobile operator in Italy.

And I say surprisingly because it is still the youngest mobile operator.

In fact, Iliad is the second-best mobile operator in terms of download speed in Florence (40.21 Mbps), according to Speedtest.

And from a national perspective, Iliad performs a bit worse than Wind Tre (31.94 Mbps with Iliad vs. 37.11 Mbps with Wind Tre), making it the second-fastest mobile operator in Italy.

According to Opensignal, Iliad has the second-worst 5G NR download and the slowest upload speeds (102.6 Mbps download and 9.9 Mbps upload).

Okay, those were valuable insights – let's talk about my speed test results now.

I did speed tests with the Speedtest app at various test locations: 3 in Catania, 11 in Rome & 1 in Vatican City.

Yes – while Vatican City is a country, it is tiny, and the Italian mobile operators cover the entirety of the city.

Okay, here are the results:

Iliad Italy Speed Test Results in Catania, Rome & Vatican City

Note that every underlined result is a speed test result on 5G NR.

Iliad Speed Test at Rome Municipo Xlll in Rome(167.67 Mbps)
Municipo Xlll Rome

With the exception of the results at my accommodation in Catania and an ice cream store in Rome (Gelato San Lorenzo 100% Naturale), I had fast to insanely fast speeds with Iliad.

Iliad Speed Test at Gelato San Lorenzo 100 % Naturale in Rome (Upload - 0.89 Mbps and Download - 0.11 Mbps)
Gelato San Lorenzo 100 % Naturale Rome

I will show you the comparison with Wind Tre later, which also has 5G NR access.

First, let's deal with some Iliad statistics based on 15 speed test results:

  • Iliad's average download speed was 83.09 Mbps
  • The median download speed with Iliad was 76.50 Mbps
  • Iliad's average upload speed was 7.3 Mbps
  • The median upload speed with Iliad was 5.87 Mbps
  • Iliad had the fastest download speed, compared to its competitors, in 4 of the 15 locations
  • Iliad had the slowest download speed, compared to its competitors, in 2 of the 15 locations
  • Nowhere did Iliad have the fastest upload speed
  • At 11 of the 15 locations, Iliad had the slowest upload speed

While Iliad has impressive download speeds, with the fastest average and median during my tests (including Airalo and Nomad eSIMs and the SimCorner Europe travel SIM card), it did have the worst upload speeds of all the SIM cards and eSIMs I tested during this trip.

So, is an average download speed of 83.09 Mbps fast enough?

Yes, it is – let me elaborate.

A download speed of more than 25 Mbps is enough to video stream content @ 4k resolution.

Social media sites that allow for live streaming, like Facebook Live, recommend an upload speed of at least 10 Mbps.

And I got an average upload speed of 7.3 Mbps – not enough for high-quality live streams.

So, in short, these speed test results would be more than enough for watching videos at a high resolution, but not for uploading content like live streams.

But let's take these results to a global level – Iliad is still doing well… download-wise.

At the time of writing, the global average download speed is 74.87 Mbps – Iliad is above this average.

But the average is skewed because of countries like the United Arab Emirates, with an average mobile download speed of 268.87 Mbps (insane!).

So let's look at the global median – 30.75 Mbps. Iliad's median download speed was 76.50 Mbps.

That is more than double the global median.

Then again, many countries have yet to roll out 5G NR… but that is why we looked at the median too instead of only the average.

In short, you should have a smooth network experience, although uploading content will be significantly slower than downloading stuff.

Take a look at this Iliad and Wind Tre comparison (both with 5G NR access):

Wind Tre Italy vs Iliad Italy Speed Test Results in Catania, Rome & Vatican City

Iliad was (much) faster than Wind Tre at many locations.

But once again, Iliad is fast enough for general phone use on cellular data.

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My Overall Experience with Iliad – Is It Any Good?

I would recommend Iliad if you plan to visit cities.

Phone Travel Wiz Approved Seal

Getting an Iliad SIM card was straightforward, and activation was quick.

I mention the quick activation part because Wind Tre claims it can take up to three business days before the SIM card becomes active, even though it took only minutes for me.

So yeah… you do not have to worry about waiting for days to use your Iliad SIM card.

Iliad Italy SIM Card Back

Iliad also has extensive coverage, and I barely experienced any blackouts (except on the metro in Rome).

However, there have been many complaints about Iliad's coverage.

These may have been old complaints or people living in rural areas.

But you should be fine in the big cities.

Iliad's 5G NR speeds were fast, and 5G NR was available almost anywhere during my trip.

TIM Italy is supposed to have even faster 5G NR speeds, but I had a plan that has a network limit of up to 4G/LTE.

Honestly, I do not have much more to say.

For 10 EUR with 120 GB of data, you do get your money's worth.

And the entry of Iliad brought telecom prices down by a lot, making Italy the cheapest country in Europe for mobile data.

Overall, Iliad is good.

Iliad Italy SIM Card Held by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz
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I spent 115.06 EUR on Italian SIM cards (19.98 EUR for Iliad, 30 EUR for Wind Tre, 35.08 for TIM Italy & 30 EUR for Vodafone Italy) and 126 USD on eSIMs (100 USD for Airalo and 26 USD for Nomad) for my Italian SIM card reviews series.

While I love buying, testing & review SIM cards and eSIMs.

That way, I can share my experiences with you so that you do not get suckered into a good deal (price-wise) but have a terrible network experience.

But… it is expensive. I would genuinely appreciate it if you would donate to Phone Travel Wiz on Ko-fi.

Donations will not be spent on coffees. Instead, the funds will be used to make Phone Travel Wiz the #1 hub for anything related to phone travel, including more reviews.

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I appreciate your support!

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Italian SIM Card Reviews

As mentioned earlier, I also tried out Wind Tre, TIM Italy & Iliad when I was in Catania and Rome.

You should read those reviews too.

>>> Wind Tre Review | TIM Italy Review | Vodafone Italy Review <<<

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Later, I will make a comparison post of the four Italian mobile operators… but that will take a while (I have many reviews of other countries that I still need to write, so they are prioritized).

But you can still make an educated purchased after reading the Italian SIM card reviews.

Check out my reviews page if you want to read all the other reviews I have written, including other European SIM cards from this trip.

Wind Tre, TIM Italy, Vodafone Italy & Iliad SIM Cards Held by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz

Italy SIM Card Buying Guide

There are more than ten SIM cards to choose from in Italy besides Iliad.

I analyze and discuss them in-depth in my Italy SIM card buying guide.

Buying a SIM Card in Italy Guide (logos of Coop Voce, Digi, Fastweb, Ho Mobile, Iliad, Kena Mobile, Lycamobile, PosteMobile, TIM, Tiscali, Very Mobile, Vodafone & Wind Tre)