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snaimon (Offline)
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Location: Richmond, VA USA

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Default 27-06-2006, 21:33

Here is my attempt to provide some general guidance for Americans going to Europe or overseas.

1. Start your planning and research early!

2. Europe uses GSM 900 and 1800 bands and 240 volts and a different electric plug. Make sure your phone is unlocked and will accept another SIM card (ie. if you have T-Mobile US service, try a SIM card from another provider like Cingular) and the appropriate charging equipment. Best is a phone with both bands; 900 is generally to be preferred over 1800 due to performance. If you have a Verizon, Sprint, Alltel or other non-GSM phone, you might ask in your family or among friends, neighbors or work/study colleages if they have a spare GSM phone you could borrow.

3. You can use your US-based GSM carrier SIM in Europe, but you will probably be paying big bucks to do so. Check it out! Call your customer care and verify what they say on the company website. Don't take the word of a CSR for the truth.

4. Calls to and from landline phones are almost always less expensive than cell phone calls. Consider using US or local country calling cards. ATT & MCI, among others, have toll free numbers in most European contries. Their rates may be a bit high, but those cards are usaully available at many chain stores. If you want to try the internet, there are several decent services such as www.onesuite.com or www.enjoyprepaid.com that offer either toll-free or local or both rates from many countries. There are also internet sites that sell other calling cards like Bizon and Cloncom, among others.

5. If you are travelling in only one or two countries only, you might consider one European SIM card from the primary country you are visiting. INBOUND calls within the country are almost always FREE to the receiver. Outside of that country you will be ROAMING and both inbound and outbound calls will usually cost constiderably more than from within the primary country. Vodafone has a travel promise with relatively favorable INBOUND rates in roaming countries where the local Vodafone affiliate has a similar agreement.

6. It is probably preferable to know your European # in advance and purchase the new SIM while you are still at home. Use www.prepaidgsm.net to see what retail prices are in country or direct from the source. You can pick up bargains on Ebay or your family or friends might be able to help. Watch out for dealers as they often charge rather high prices; likewise watch out on Ebay.

7. If you are travelling in three or more countries, your best bet is probably an international card like United Mobile, 09, Geodessa, TravelSIM and the like. Some of these cards offer free inbound in multiple countries. Rates are often quite competitive with single-country SIMs.

8. There are many considerations to choosing the best or right SIM/service for you. Factors include:

will you be using SMS?
will you be using GPRS/data?
will you be mainly making OUTBOUND calls or receiving INBOUND?
what will your call volumes and other usage be?
how much will you be roaming?
what service do your European friends/family have?

There is no one perfect solution for everyone.

9. You might also consider using a callback service to cut your costs (www.enlinea.com or www.callbackworld.com) in conjunction with your international or European SIM card.

10. Disadvantages:

calling to European cell phones is usually more expensive than calling to landlines. Your friends and family might not be so happy when they receive their phone bill from calling you on your United Mobile card and they find that the 100 minutes they talked to you cost them $100! Even apart from the costs, some people may not be willing to call you on your new, exotic, temporary number.

sending a foreign SMS usually costs more than a national message

most often the costs to use your European or international SIM at home (US) are cost prohibitive


Phones: DASH V3 (3)
Service: US T-MO post paid (2) - US T-MO prepaid (2) - UM+ - TravelSIM DE SIMYO - DE SUNSIM T-Mobile DE
Calling Cards: Onesuite Enjoyprepaid AT&T MCI Mobivox
   
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