Cell Phone International | Using an International Cell Phone

Cell Phone International | Using an International Cell Phone



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International Cell Phones
When you are traveling overseas and being out of touch is not an option, you may want to get an international capable cell phone.
Unfortunately, standard domestic U.S. cell phones don't work abroad. So, you must either buy or rent a second international capable phone so you won't be forced to use a hotel phone or a payphone to call back to the U.S. or elsewhere.

Here are a few reasons why standard U.S. cell phones will not work overseas:

Most countries use a different type of cell phone service then found in the U.S.

Europe and much of the rest of the world adopted a common cell phone standard called Global Service for Mobile (GSM).

Interestingly, Europe, Africa and Asia had the foresight to adopt the same cell phone standard and they also decided that their cell phone networks would operate on the same frequencies (the 900mhz, initially and later the 1800mhz band). That's why a cell phone that works in London will work equally well in Johannesburg, Beijing or Sydney.

Most countries around the globe - more than 205 at last count, have adopted the GSM wireless technology and if you plan on studying overseas, outside of North America and want the
convenience of carrying a cellular phone, then you are going to need a GSM cell phone.

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The United States did not standardize and consequently competing wireless standards emerged from the various wireless carriers. Just so you know the names, in the US our cell phone service is most likely to be the CDMA type (Verizon and Sprint), or perhaps TDMA or even iDEN (Nextel) or AMPS (you don't want to know what these acronyms stand for and fortunately you don't need to know).

While there are some North American GSM cellular providers (T-Mobile and Cingular), they unfortunately operate on a different (1900mhz) frequency then is used abroad, however there are some multi-band world phones now available through these US carriers. The international roaming rate for this service can be measured in dollars per minute though you will be accessible
on your US number while overseas.

A GSM cell phone can be rented for typically $30-$60/week with per minute charges ranging from $1.50-$5/minute, for your incoming and outgoing calls. If you travel infrequently (less then once per year) and your stay is less then a week then this may be the best option even with the outrageous per minute costs.

However with most study abroad programs lasting 1-3 months you would need another student loan to simply pay off your phone bill.

To really take advantage of a cell phone overseas without the cost being really prohibitive, you will want to purchase your own GSM cell phone and a local prepaid SIM card for your next international destination. This is usually the best option for students studying overseas.

Unlike typical cell phones in the US, GSM world cell phones do not come with phone numbers programmed into them and the actual service is not even tied to the phone itself. Instead customers activate their mobile phones by popping in so-called SIM cards, little thumbnail sized devices that determine your cell phone number and any additional services like voicemail.

A pre-paid SIM card for each country you visit, gives you a local phone number and local calling rates are usually a low 25 cents/minute. It is easy, convenient, and relatively inexpensive for you to call other people in the country you're visiting, and easy and normal for them to call to you on your local number, too. Best of all, Incoming calls are FREE regardless of where they originate.

You can replenish your airtime on the SIM card by purchasing an airtime voucher in one of the local currency denominations. They are available at most newsstands, kiosks and convenience stores. The airtime vouchers are scratch cards that have a pin code which you simply key into your phone for immediate credit.

In summary, with a prepaid cell phone you have a cost effective and easy way of staying in touch with no bills and no roaming charges.

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Cell Phone International | Using an International Cell Phone

Cell Phone International | Using an International Cell Phone

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