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snaimon (Offline)
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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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Motel75 (Offline)
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Default 28-06-2006, 00:23

Nice job! I have just a couple of minor quibbles:

I'm not sure it's preferable to buy a SIM card in the US compared to on arrival (point 6). It's usually far more expensive to do so, unless you get a bargain on eBay, and there can be problems with old SIMs, non-registered numbers, and the like.

In most cases, once in the destination country, you can go to any shopping area and pick out a SIM you like; you'll have the latest offers to choose from. There are only a couple of countries where this can be difficult (Switzerland), and sometimes you can get a real bargain, sometimes with an almost-free phone; English is not usually a problem. Perhaps it would be better to suggest (say) making a list of people who should have your phone number and have a contact person tell them once you know what it is.

Also, AFAIK, Europe is pretty much all nominally 230 V now; some of it was 220 before, and some 240, and they split the difference.

Travel Promise is a trademark, and you have to request it, so we might want to say something like "Vodafone has an option called Travel Promise that..."


Current DE: Vodafone, Netzklub; PL: Klucz, Virgin; UK: Giffgaff; US: T-Mobile; IT: Vodafone; UA: Kyivstar; FR: Bouygues; GR: Vodafone
Former DE: Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2, Blauworld, 01051mobile, Solomo, Lycamobile, Simyo, Congstar, Fonic, Edeka Mobile, Lidl Mobile; PL: Heyah, Era, Virgin, Sami Swoi, Orange, POP, iPlus, Carrefour Mova, Telepin Mobi, Play, Lycamobile, T-Mobile; UK: Vodafone, T-Mobile, Virgin; US: T-Mobile, AT&T, Lycamobile; CZ: Vodafone, Oskar; ES: Lebara; GR: Vodafone, Wind; UA: Vodafone; IL: Orange; TR: Turkcell
   
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powerlifter (Offline)
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Default 28-06-2006, 01:33

I too would like to say nice job could not have said it better myself.

If you buy a local sim you may have voicemail problems. That is one reason I got a UK vodaphone. I know if you get vodaphone germany the voice prompts are in german. This can not be changed though the rest of your phone can be in your desired language.
Just a thought.
Sinamon you did a great job.


[size=1]Prepaid cards, Moldova Tempo, Kyrg Republic BiTel, India Hutch, Bulgaria Mtel, Vodafone, UK. Etsalat. UAE. Afghan Wireless, Afghanistan. T-mobile post-paid.

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snaimon (Offline)
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Default 28-06-2006, 02:46

You both make valid points. Thanks for adding!

As I noted, my post was just a starter. There have been so many recent questions from various US individuals. I thought it might help to collect the wisdom of the group and PIN the discussion for any future newbies. I also think the community here tries very hard to answer the answerable questions. And of course everyone has their slant.

I am sure, for instance, that both DRN and Andy will have lots of other technology and VOIPs to add to my rather primitive start. I will admit they are light-years ahead of me on those things and I am not competent enough to write about such things.

Remember, the entry was a STARTER.

I don't think I can edit it, but in point 6 instead of

"What out for dealers as they ..." It should be "Watch out for dealers....."

Stan


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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MATHA531 (Offline)
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Default 28-06-2006, 03:10

Actually, in an exchange of e mails with Vodafone DE, I was able to get them to change the voice prompts to English!
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snaimon (Offline)
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Default 28-06-2006, 03:45

Quote:
Originally Posted by MATHA531
Actually, in an exchange of e mails with Vodafone DE, I was able to get them to change the voice prompts to English!
Did you write them in German or English? That may be powerlifter's handicap.
He probably has not tried. What are the chances the Voda-de hotline folks speak English?

When I call my Viktor Vox (egad!) hotline, I always speak in German. Contrary to all the negatives you hear about VV, I have always been pleased with their hotline service.

Stan


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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DRNewcomb (Offline)
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Default 28-06-2006, 04:02

If you plan to use a callback service in conjunction with a local prepaid SIM or if most of your calls will be incoming, then you should select the local carrier based on who has the best coverage, particularly if all the carriers' SIM packages run about the same price. Since the premium paid for calling a foreign cell phone from the US is almost always uniform for an entire country, you will gain nothing by picking a carrier with better calling plans but less coverage.

On the other hand, if you plan to make many outgoing calls from your prepaid SIM, you should carefully consider the different carriers' calling options and even different options offered by individual carriers to decide which best fits your needs.

When should I roam rather than buying a prepaid SIM?
"It is not a given that it is always cheaper to use a prepaid account, but it does not take many calls at $1.24+/min to make it cheaper. The formula, which I have developed (and humbly dubbed "Newcomb's Cypher" is:
Break_even_minutes = Bare_SIM_price/(Roaming_rate - Prepaid_rate)
Subtract the cost of a typical prepaid call from the cost of the same call while roaming. Divide the result into the cost of the prepaid SIM, discounting it by the value of any included minutes. For some combinations of roaming and prepaid you will find that it only takes a few minutes of use to pay for the prepaid."
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snaimon (Offline)
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Default 28-06-2006, 04:21

Quote:
Originally Posted by DRNewcomb
When should I roam rather than buying a prepaid SIM?
"It is not a given that it is always cheaper to use a prepaid account, but it does not take many calls at $1.24+/min to make it cheaper. The formula, which I have developed (and humbly dubbed "Newcomb's Cypher"* is:
Break_even_minutes = Bare_SIM_price/(Roaming_rate - Prepaid_rate)

Subtract the cost of a typical prepaid call from the cost of the same call while roaming. Divide the result into the cost of the prepaid SIM, discounting it by the value of any included minutes. For some combinations of roaming and prepaid you will find that it only takes a few minutes of use to pay for the prepaid."
Let's put some realistic #s to it AND correct me if I am wrong:

Prices in Euros

Start pack cost 20 with 10 Euro credit so raw cost is 10 Euros

Roaming rate say German SIM roaming in FR 1.59 Euros from documentation I have for an OUTGOING call from a D1 SIM.

Rate on FR SIM to FR .55 Euros

Therefore:

Break even minutes = 10 (bare SIM) / (1.59 - .55)
= 10 / 1.04
= 9 minutes

I take it the same can be done for INCOMING minutes

= 10 / (.79 - 0) (D1 inbound rate / minute is .79 Euros)
= ~ 13

So, in this case, if you think you will make or receive any more than 9 - 13 minutes of roaming calls while in FR with your German SIM, you would according to Newcomb's Cypher probably be better off buying the FR SIM.

BTW, the D1 highest roaming rate in in Zone 5, Egypt, Bulgaria, Thailand, Malta, Hong Kong, and a few others at 3.49. With that kind of outbound rate, the break even will be around 3 minutes in the above example.


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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Przemolog (Offline)
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Default 28-06-2006, 07:25

Quote:
Originally Posted by powerlifter
I too would like to say nice job could not have said it better myself.*

If you buy a local sim you may have voicemail problems. That is one reason I got a UK vodaphone.* I know if you get vodaphone germany the voice prompts are in german. This can not be changed though the rest of your phone can be in your desired language.
OTOH local SIMs offer cheap or sometimes even free retrieving of voicemail.

And more remarks.

4. "Toll free" access numbers may not be really free or fully available.
E.g. 00800 (international toll free numbers) which seem to be very popular as access numbers in Poland for non-Polish calling cards (or other services of that kind) are not free. You must pay a flat "per call" rate from landlines and payphones or national off-net rate from Orange prepaids. Those numbers are not available from other GSM prepaids.

5. As to Europe, inbound calls with local SIMs are free in all the countries except Russia which is changing only now its "billing rules" to "Calling Party Pays"
When using local SIM, inbound SMSes and MMSes are free in Europe and usually free elsewhere.
Inbound SMSes are usually free also in roaming.

7. For any European country you can find an international card with free incoming calls but no international card has free incoming calls in all European countries.
International cards may have no coverage in some European countries (mainly eastern Europe: Estonia, Belarus, Moldova but also Jersey, IoM or Faeroe)
There are problems with SMS interchange with 09 and Hop SIMs.
Some international cards don't support data transmission.
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prion (Offline)
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Default 28-06-2006, 09:12

Quote:
Originally Posted by Przemolog
And more remarks.

4. "Toll free" access numbers may not be really free or fully available.
E.g. 00800 (international toll free numbers) which seem to be very popular as access numbers in Poland for non-Polish calling cards (or other services of that kind) are not free. You must pay a flat "per call" rate from landlines and payphones or national off-net rate from Orange prepaids. Those numbers are not available from other GSM prepaids.
CAn you please give more info about this; How much is this flat rate from payphones; are the 0800 numbers also charged from payphones in Poland;
   
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