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universal cell phone

vtwo

Well-known member
what type phone/plans do you guys use when overseas? I have heard of Mobal, but there has to be a better way to call out and receive calls when in Europe and the pacific.
 

JohnnyP

Well-known member
...

Ive made a few posts lately tossing around ideas for this same situation, as I am overseas a lot.

I finally bit the bullet and decided to give T-Mobile a chance. I got rid of Sprint and signed a one-year contract with T-Mobile, just to give it a shot.

From what I can tell, you can pretty much roam in any country you will encounter, unless you go to some really out of the way places. But most of Africa, China, Middle East, Europe was in their roaming range.

But your going to pay some really hefty roaming charges though. I frequent the Middle East, namely Iraq, the Med, and Europe. Iraq was something like $5.00/minute. We also frequent Cyprus, and that was around $1.50 a minute.

I dont plan on using this phone for just chatting all the time to people, only when I need to make a short phone call to the fuelers, flight planning service, hotel, my driver, etc.

All my lengthy conversations will be over Skype, as it is free and has worked in most of the places I frequent. And also email, as I do most of comm's over that.

(I did a check, and T-mobile does have Asia and europe in its coverage areas).

What I did was get the cheapest plan I could, only 300 minutes a month, since I would rarely be in the US and the Intl minutes dont come out of that 300/month. It was $39.00/month.

Another option is to purchase overseas, a Quad-band, unlocked, GSM phone. Then for the countries you are in, just buy a local Sim chip (that will give you a local cell number), and then use prepaid minutes to fill it up.

The math would say that this method would probably be cheaper, but a little less user-friendly as if you have 8 Sim chips, then you have 8 different phone numbers. I have seen Sim chips sell from 20-80 bucks a pop depending on the country.

I decided to pay a little extra on this trial, just for the piece of mind that my phone will work in whatever country I am in, and people can all reach me over the same phone number, etc. I got tired of having no cell phone and looking at pay phones in terminals I couldnt figure out how to use.....

Now i'm waiting for someone to come back and post a reply saying how T-Mobile service stinks overseas and they hated it.....I knew two people who were using T-Mobile while in Afghanistan and had no problems with it at all.

And I even got to keep the same mobile number I have had for almost 10 years now.

Some people will mention getting a Sat. Phone.

I dunno. I had a Sat phone for the past year, and had the hardest time ever getting it to even get a good signal, and its bulky. The use-charges seemed to be on par with the roaming charges ill be getting now.

Hope this helps.
 

PC6flyer

Flying for fun
At$t

I have been using AT$T for a few years now. It works well everywhere from Russia down into Africa and the Middle East (Except Lybia). The only downside is the roaming charges. $4.99 per minute here in Russia.

I use the blackberry pearl with unlimited international email and data plan. This has been very useful when I do not have internet acess for email or skype. I also use Iskoot for acessing Skype from my mobile along with jivetalk for yahoo and msn messengers on the data side of the phone.

TC
 

Diesel

TEB Hilton resident
pc6

thanks for the iskoot. How do you like it. I'm working on putting it on my bb right now.

D
 

PC6flyer

Flying for fun
I have not had many problems with Iskoot as long as I have a good signal and data coverage. Most of my calls are the same quality as being on a computer and others are not so good.
 

Diesel

TEB Hilton resident
I see that it uses phone calls instead of data.

If you're overseas and calling home. How is it making the call. Via data or local number (which is the same as making a long distance call with cingular)
 

PC6flyer

Flying for fun
I wanted to make a correction on the Iskoot. It uses the data plan for your contact list and your normal airtime minutes and or roaming for the calls made with skype. Calling from the USA internationally it might be a good deal to save on international long distance charges.
 

lear24

Country pilot
If you have an unlocked GSM phone (and if your contract is up with your carrier just call and they'll provide you the code to unlock), you can buy a roaming SIM card vs. buying many local ones that works almost anywhere. Rates vary, you won't get as cheap as buying the many local ones, but if you use the phone once in a while, it's no big deal. Most places are $.49 per minute, some climb up to $1.29 or a little more. That combined with a calling card for family to call you back at the hotel is not bad. I bought my SIM card at telestial.com, it has a lot of info on the site. I got the Passport, it seemed like the best blend of value for me, and has free incoming calls in a lot of places, if someone in the US calls the 800 number to call you when you're in a free spot, it's free for them and $.39 per minute for the 800 number surcharge. The GSM phone works in a lot of places except Korea and Japan, where they use a different protocol. You can buy a phone that handles that band as well, if you go there a lot.
 

vtwo

Well-known member
Thanks,
I think I am going the route of buying an unlocked gsm phone off of ebay and then getting the sim chips for the country's I am in. I will look into the roaming sim chip. I think that would be good for family to leave me messages and the call back on skype later
 

AN-2

Member
One main problem with T-mobile: you get charged for any calls coming to your cell when overseas even if you don't answer the call !!!
If you forward the calls from the cell to a US number, or a voice mail box,
but you opened the phone once when overseas,
all the calls will go to that country and even if your phone is off it will go back to the US, to the voice
mail box or the other number you asked to send it to.
You will be charged for that call international roaming !!!

I had that problem and had to speak to T-mobile for a few months until they gave me the money back.
I use other ways for that now, including sim cards from many countries and an unlock GSM phones,
internet numbers like GIZMO, and so on.

One good thing about T-Mobile is that they have customer care number in the US 505 area code which
is FREE from ovearseas, but not free in the USA. (use the 611 or 800 numbers).

I use that to call the tech help dest of T-mobile and forward the calls to a new number or the voice mail box any day I need it when ovearseas.
I also use grandcentral.com to send the calls to other numbers, even to my email account as wav voice message file.

when you forward calls from your T-Mobile number make sure you use the conditional or unconditional call forwarding correctly. They use special 500 minutes for the conditional and your regular minutes
to the other one.
 

Kikuchiyo

Well-known member
Small print on the T-mobile web site says they'll provide the unlock code for your phone after 90 days of service. I have a coworker who made the unlocking of his phone a condition of the sale. And they did it for him right away.
 

Fedora

Well-known member
My vote goes to Mobal.
If you already have an unlocked GSM phone, the sim costs just 10 bucks.

No Plan or monthly charges. If you don't use it for 2 months, you don't pay a dime. Calls get charged to my business credit card.

Itemized call receipts. My company needs this for their reimbursement procedures. I just print it out and send it to the company.

Incoming calls while overseas are free.

I use Skype for my personal calls.

I tried various countrys' pay as you go plans. No itemized call list, very expensive, and always needing to buy more time.

My phone has worked everywhere except Equador, but they may have a contract there by now.
 

JohnnyP

Well-known member
....

Well i'm a few weeks into my T-Mobile usage.

Having problems. I asked the dealer guy back in Atlanta many times again and again, "Do I or you, have to do anything to this phone to make it work overseas"..."Or does the roaming just automatically work when I get to whatever country your coverage meets"...(my phone is quad band, GSM, etc)

No go.

So now im fighting with "online tech support" to try and get the Intl. feature activated on this phone.

I can't just dial the code, because I can't connect to the network!.

We'll see.
 

turpentyine

Well-known member
Thanks,
I think I am going the route of buying an unlocked gsm phone off of ebay and then getting the sim chips for the country's I am in. I will look into the roaming sim chip. I think that would be good for family to leave me messages and the call back on skype later
You can just unlock your current phone. I called cingular and they actually gave me the unlock code. If your network wont do that try browsing the net there is plenty of sites out there that have unlock codes for phones.
 

FlyFastLiveSlow

BEWARE OF DOG(MA)
Well i'm a few weeks into my T-Mobile usage.

Having problems. I asked the dealer guy back in Atlanta many times again and again, "Do I or you, have to do anything to this phone to make it work overseas"..."Or does the roaming just automatically work when I get to whatever country your coverage meets"...(my phone is quad band, GSM, etc)

No go.

So now im fighting with "online tech support" to try and get the Intl. feature activated on this phone.

I can't just dial the code, because I can't connect to the network!.

We'll see.
If you haven't solved the problem, PM me. I've used T-Mo many times overseas. It's pretty easy and the in store reps have no clue how to do it.
 

JohnnyP

Well-known member
.........

I actually had a really quick response from tech support.

Went online, sent an email through the website that I figured had a snowballs chance in hell of actually getting to a qualified human.

But less than 12 hours later, got an email saying that they had altered my account and that it should be able to roam and make calls overseas.

Sure enough it worked that same day. I was very surprised.

Now I can roam for the low low rate of only $3-$5 per minute!!

But the guy selling me the phone in the T-Mobile store sounded good (as he should, he's a saleman), and after a while youve gotta just take their word for it that it will work as advertised, because you've gotta trust them at some point no matter how suspicious I am.

Ill eventually get this phone unlocked and go with the local sim/minutes route I think.
 

FirstMate

Well-known member
I recently got a phone/sim card here in Saudi Arabia on the Al Jawal network. 100 Riyals, roughly 25 dollars, gets me about an hour or so worth of calls I think. Obviously it runs down quicker if I call the States.

However, does anyone have any idea if when I call home (to a US cell) if the cell is going to get charged an INTL rate or some ridiculous fee?
 

tyuwerty

Quit your whining!
I recently got a phone/sim card here in Saudi Arabia on the Al Jawal network. 100 Riyals, roughly 25 dollars, gets me about an hour or so worth of calls I think. Obviously it runs down quicker if I call the States.

However, does anyone have any idea if when I call home (to a US cell) if the cell is going to get charged an INTL rate or some ridiculous fee?
The rate to the USA is about 2.5 - 2.75 SR per minute.

No the person you are calling gets charged as if it were a regular call.
 
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