To Cicerone / other India experts

Old Sep 14th, 2004, 04:11 PM
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To Cicerone / other India experts

I am told there is something called a S.I.M. card that can be inserted into certain cell phones and which is a pre paid card basically that can be used for intl. clls. The T-Moblie rep told me they can be purchased in India for use to call the US. Are you familiar with these and if so do you know what they cost, availability, etc. Thank you, Larry
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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 06:47 PM
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Prepaid SIM cards are common in India but I am not sure they work in US mobiles because of the diff in the technology platform (GSM). U can usea prepaid SIM card to make long distance calls or whatever as the phone co is not taking any credit risk on u. U get them in various denominations - Rupees 500, 1000, etc and can keep topping them up. My biggest concern would be the handset compatibility tho.
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Old Sep 15th, 2004, 02:50 AM
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I never use a local sim card in India or elsewhere, as my company pays all phone bills and I just call on my existing Swisscom sim card. (Your phone also has a sim card, open it up and look for a small white cardboard chip. That is the chip which activates the ability to make calls and contains your phone number.)

I assume your phone is a dual or tri band which has the correct band frequency for India, which is NOT the same frequency used in the US. Read the instruction booklet which came with the phone or call T Mobile and ask. Changing frequencies is very easy and in some newer phones is automatic. I assume that your phone was sold to you through T Mobile, who is your phone service provider in the US. It also seems that T Mobile has not "locked" your phone, which means you can insert sim cards of other phone service providers. (Many US providers like AT&T only sell locked phones, which means you can't use any sim car but their card which came with the phone.) If that is the case, there is no harm in bringing your phone to India, buying a local sim card and trying it. I believe you can purchase a sim card almost anywhere in India at this point. I believe they are pre-paid, you buy a card with say $30 worth of calls on it and buy a new one after you have used all the time or recharge the old one. Note that each card will have a different number, so you will have to keep track of the numbers, and this may be a bit inconvenient for people trying to reach you.

If your phone will work in India and you don't plan on making a lot of calls, it might just be easier to call T Mobile and have international dialing added to your calling plan. There is usually a small monthly charge for this, plus the price of the calls. You can usually cancel the plan when you return to the US and don?t need it. The cost of the calls will probably be a bit more expensive, but if you are only using the phone for emergencies, etc, it probably is the easiest way; plus you have the same phone number so people can reach you a bit more easily.
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Old Sep 15th, 2004, 01:07 PM
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Hi Cicerone: I haven't yet decided to go with T Mobile though I am leaning that way. We have US Cellular now and they don't go intl. so when our contract woith them expires in Nov. I'll switch then. It seems there is some homework to do so I'll check into band frequencies and so on to be as sure as possible inre to the right phone. Thanks for the info on the SIM card. It seems they are readily available and that is good to know. Cheers amiga! and a big thanks to Hobbes as well. Larry
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Old Sep 15th, 2004, 05:57 PM
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You can buy SIM cards in India to use on your cellphone provided your cell phone is a GSM triband type (eg Panasonic GU87). This is the simglemost important requirement. Since most of the carriers in the USA give you "locked" phones you have to get them unlocked. This is very easy; there are several hole-in-the-wall operations in all American cities that will do this at a small fee (~$25).
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Old Sep 16th, 2004, 01:56 AM
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Be careful buying a locked phone in the US and having it unlocked by someone else, as your warranty on the phone will no longer be valid. If the phone has a problem from then on, your service provider will not honor the warranty. I understand you can buy unlocked phones on e-bay (but buyer beware) and I have been told that T Mobile is one of the few service providers that will sell you an unlocked phone.

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Old Sep 16th, 2004, 04:26 AM
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The biggest advantage of a local card IMO is the ability for people to call you by dialling a local number - can come in very handy! Otherwise whoever wants to call u is dailling the US. U could also consider buying a cheap mobile instrument exclusively for use in non gsm countries.
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Old Sep 17th, 2004, 04:09 AM
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Thanks again for the info. It was T-Mobile who told me about the SIM card. I will be sure to find out about the "locked" issue before we purchase a phone. Tahnks Agtoau for the specific tech. band info. Cheers, Larry
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Old Sep 17th, 2004, 07:27 AM
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I have used my T-Mobile dual band phone all over China and Spain, and I plan to use it in India next year. The rates per minutes are expensive but you don't need to bother with purchasing SIM cards--it's very nice to be able to use the phone as soon as you get off the plane! You simply turn the phone on and within a minute, you have a local provider connection. It doesn't work in only a few countries--Japan being one. Also, your number remains the same everywhere for people back home to make calls to you.
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Old Sep 17th, 2004, 01:12 PM
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To JaneB: How much are the rates if you don't mind?
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Old Sep 17th, 2004, 05:18 PM
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Larry: For India, the rate is $2.99 per minute. Most European countries cost $.99 per minute. The rates for all countries are listed on their web site under "international coverage". There are no other extra fees involved. I have the basic plan of $19.95 per month which is all I ever need. For me, it's just incredibly convenient to be able to call from anywhere immediately upon arrival. The coverage is great in the US also.
Jane
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Old Sep 18th, 2004, 07:16 AM
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Thank you Jane. Actually the phone belongs to our son and as he is thisclose to his girlfriend I think the SIM card will save alot and I mean ALOT! of $. Ah yes, young love. . Cheers, Larry
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Old Sep 18th, 2004, 02:19 PM
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I see what you mean! You definitely should go the SIM route with that kind of usage.
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Old Sep 18th, 2004, 04:26 PM
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LOL! So true. Thanks again for your helpful info.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2004, 01:48 AM
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Hi - just pick up a second hand handset (cost about Rs 2000 / $40 - 70) in India with a prepaid card and use it during ur stay here. will cost u a lot less, and will not be very expensive for ur people back in the US to call u either (in the US buy the "India calling cards, which are the cheapest option of calling to India - I use them whenever i am in the US to call back home)
Reference : http://www.airtelworld.com/2/prepaid_tariff.jsp
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Old Jan 22nd, 2005, 05:48 AM
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Let me report what I found out about cell phone use in India. First of all you have to get your phone unlocked if it isn't already that way and most are not. If you get the phone from your carrier it will be locked. That is they can't be used on any other providers network so to use my phone to call home from India would cost $2.29 per minute per AT + T rates. Getting the phone unlocked is pretty simple. You can go to ebay to purchase unlock codes and do it your self. Some want you to send the phone to them and they will unlock it. You can also google it (type in your cell phoe model and manufacturer with unlock codes) abd you'll get tons of info. I found a local place to do it. It takes less than 30 min. and costs $15.00-$20.00. As demonstrated to me once it is unlocked the display will show the network used by the particular SIM card you insert. The fellow at the shop I had it done at put his SIM card in my phone and viola! I now had T-Mobile. Next you need to have a tri-band or a quad band phone. What I found out is that for India it is better to have a quad band phone. This will ensure compatability with the frequencies used there. However in Delhi though the predominant frequency used is found on the quad band phones there are still some frequencies available that match with a tri-band phone so you should be OK. Use throughout India is better served with quad bands however.
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Old Apr 12th, 2005, 11:08 PM
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OK, is India really as bad as it looks on Amazing Race??
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Old Apr 13th, 2005, 05:55 AM
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Yes, it is--and worse. I know others adore it but we left after 3 weeks which was 1 week before we had planned to leave. India has some nice people, wonderful sights to behold, and marvelous hotels--BUT dealing with the touts, beggers, tip-demanders, and flat-out liars was way more than we could tolerate. And we are NOT novice independent travelers.
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