I have a new mobile number [friends-only] now. Maybe temporarily, maybe not -- that depends mostly on whether I'll be able to carry over my old number onto the new plan; when I last talked to the hotline, they said they were still negotiating various aspects of number portability.
Basically the idea is this. I previously had an e-plus SIM card, mostly because most of my family had one, too. Now Alice, who already supply us with telephone and ADSL service, launched a new option at the beginning of May called "Option Mobile". Basically, calls from any Alice number (landline or mobile) to any other Alice number (landline or mobile) are free. They send you a new SIM card with a new phone number which is then, of course, an Alice mobile number.
This means that Stella and I will be able to talk to each other for free, e.g. when I'm in Wolfsburg, which is pretty neat.
And another neat thing about this plan is: no monthly fee, now minimum charge, and no 24-month contract term! Just the usual four-weeks-to-the-end-of-a-month that made Alice so attractive to us in the first place. (Things are different if you want a subsidised mobile phone along with the SIM card, but since I already have a phone, we get the good conditions.)
The new number is a bit of an inconvenience, but since I get nearly no calls on my mobile except from Stella, it's a fairly minor annoyance. (Having to key in my address book again will be annoying, as well.)
Maybe they'll let me take over my old phone number later on; combining a number people know with a plan that's more advantageous for Stella and me would be the best.
I asked whether they could send another SIM card for Stella as well, so that we could talk for free when she's away from home but has her mobile with her, and the hotline said that eventually, they planned to offer up to five (I think it was) SIM cards per contract, but since they were just getting underway, they only offered one SIM card per contract right now. So we'll wait. (But she doesn't have her mobile with her that much anyway.)
Since the new SIM card isn't pay-as-you-go but connected to a contract, I wonder whether there'll be an SMS-to-email gateway.
e-plus charges for each email received by their gateway that they forward to you as an SMS, so they only offer this for people with contracts (where they know they can bill them for the service, I suppose, as opposed to a PAYG account which might be empty); if things are the same here, I'll be able to accept incoming emails as SMS messages, e.g. via the LiveJournal interface, which could be interesting.
Outgoing SMS being converted to email would be interesting, too -- e-plus offers that even for PAYG, though I don't think I've used it so far.
I asked the Alice hotline about those services but the lady I reached was clueless in that regard -- when she heard "email" and "mobile phone", she said that whether the phone can send email depends on the phone model, and I had to explain to her that I wasn't talking about "native" email via Internet, but an SMS-to-email gateway, for phones that can only send SMS but can't speak SMTP or compose real emails. She tried to ask someone and get back to me, but since queues were too long, she suggested I call back. I decided to use their funny web form instead. Let's see what will transpire.