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Jaya Jul 10th, 2008 06:26 PM

Cell phone service in India for travellers
What is the best way to get a cell phone (or cell service on my own phone) while visiting India?
I want make calls within India and check messages on my US phone. Being able to answer calls from US would be a perk but not required.
Can I use my own phone? I have service with Verizon. Do they provide overseas service? Cost is a consideration.

Thanks for your help.

rhkkmk Jul 10th, 2008 06:37 PM

you need to have a phone which is "unlocked"---verizon has to do that for need to have a tri or quad band phone...your phone needs to take a sim card, which i think verizon phones do not???

you will buy a sim card at a convenience or phone store in india...they will install it for you...i paid $3 in thailand, malaysia and indonesia for them...
then you have to buy minutes..

voila...the phone works internally and externally from india

Jaya Jul 10th, 2008 08:03 PM

Thanks rhkkmk.

I have a Treo Palm if that helps anyone.

Cicerone Jul 10th, 2008 08:53 PM

Verizon provides international phone service. You have to sign up for it. You can do this for as little as 21 days, and then go off it when you return. You can also rent a phone <u> or Blackberry</u> from them .See, click on “traveling outside the US”. It may not be cheap, but for emergencies and a quick daily call to check voice mail, may be just fine for what you need. People at home will only have to call your US number (not long distance) and will be able to reach you in an emergency as well.

Otherwise, if your current phone was provided by Verizon as part of your package, it is highly unlikely IMO that they will agree to “unlock” it so you can purchase a local “sim chip” in India. This is not the way US phone service providers work (for reasons beyond my understanding). In the US, you buy a phone through your phone service provider and it is “locked” to that provider and no other chip will work with that phone. You would have to call Verizon and ask if they will unlock your phone. My guess is that they will not agree to unlock the phone. Threfore if you want to call more cheaply with local Indian rates, you will have to buy or rent an unlocked phone in the US, or buy or rent a mobile phone in India. You will then need to buy a sim card in India to insert into the phone. I would buy or rent a phone in India to avoid any issues with locked and unlocked phones in the US. No phones are locked in India. To buy a pre-paid sim chip, try something like BSNL see, for info and rates. You can buy the cards at many shops all over India. (If you don’t know what a sim chip is, it is a tiny compute chip, you open your phone and put it in the back and it allows you to make calls on it). People at home will not know your number, you will have to call them with it or send it by e-mail. They and you will incur long distances charges when calling.

Whether you need a phone at all is something you may want to think about. I am not sure who you are planning to call “in India,”. If you have relatives there, then a phone may be useful. Otherwise, I don’t know how useful it will be to you, although having one to call a driver from time to time is helpful, but not at all critical. Remember also that you will be 10.5 hours ahead of EST, and you may not want people calling you, as most people will want to call you during their day, which could easily be 2 am for you (I have had this experience more times than you want to know). Many people will not recall or understand the time difference. You also may have trouble reaching people at say 8 pm your time, which is 5:30 am EST. (assuming no daylight savings, then it is 4:30 am)

E-mail may be a much better way to stay in touch with people in the US. Many hotels offer it, and there are internet cafes all over. You may find this an easier and cheaper way than purchasing local sim cards (in India a passport is required and some papers need to be filled out, not onerous but can be a bit time consuming), and going through the palaver of buying or renting another phone.

Also remember that hotel rooms have phones and things like AT&amp;T long distance calling cards will work at reasonable rates, as will direct dial when necessary (not cheap).

If you have a Blackberry and can get it supported in India, that IMO is the best as you will have e-mail and the phone will work in India as well.

Jaya Jul 11th, 2008 04:29 PM

Thank you Cicerone. I've read some of your other replies to different threads. You sound like you know Asia like nobody! Your replies are really appreciated.

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