Go on … use your cell phone overseas
It really is a small world isn’t it?Today you can talk to people all over the world via the internet, or you can fly around the globe within a few hours. So, with all of the advancements, why doesn’t your cell phone always work when you travel around the world?The truth is, with a little prior planning, you can use your cell phone overseas. Global Services for Mobiles, or GSM as it is commonly known, is the solution to this problem.A GSM phone is an international phone that operates on up to four different frequencies, allowing users to call internationally. In Europe, Asia and other parts of the world, GSM is the standard and it is becoming more common in America.
GSM phones work with a SIM card (Subscriber Identity Module card), which is a small printed circuit board that, once inserted into the phone, carries subscriber information and identifies the caller to the network service provider.Among available carriers in Summit County, only Cingular and T-Mobile are strictly GSM. Verizon, Nextel and Sprint make options available to customers who must travel overseas, usually involving phone rentals.Before you head off on the big trip and need to call relatives back home, there are a few things to know about using a GSM phone. The first thing you should keep in mind is that the phone you take overseas will need to be compatible with the appropriate frequency (900 MHz or 1800 MHz for Europe, Asia, Africa and the Pacific Rim, and 1900 MHz for North and South America). Check the carrier’s website to verify the MHz requirements in the country you’re traveling to.Next the phone needs to be unlocked.
When the phone is locked it means that the carrier (e.g. T-Mobile or Cingular) has restricted the phone to operating only with SIM cards made by that same carrier. You should also keep in mind that just because GSM phones are used widely internationally, it does not mean that they will be less expensive overseas.If you think you will need one, it may be a good idea to purchase it before heading out of the country (not to mention potential language barriers of trying to buy one in a foreign country). Be sure to have the phone unlocked before leaving.Once you have your GSM phone, using it overseas is fairly straightforward.You can either use the SIM card that came with the phone (though you will pay international roaming to make calls) or you can buy a SIM card once in the country (usually available at convenience stores, grocers, airports and phone retailers).If you buy the card there, you’ll pay local rates, but you will incur international long distance to phone home.
Once you have a SIM card, set-up is pretty simple depending on the phone.The card is often the size of a credit card and has a chip within it that is removed and inserted into the phone.Use the manual to help determine where the card should be inserted.The chip will automatically detect settings and numbers once inserted in the phone, and the card and packaging should walk you through any further set-up (like calling in to register with the carrier).Believe it or not, that is really about all there is to it.
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