Cell Phone Use In Australia

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Mar 19th, 2006, 04:34 PM
  #1
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Cell Phone Use In Australia

Hi, we are heading to Australia in about 14 days and we were told that the best thing to do for a cell phone is to purchase an inexpensive cell phone when we arrive and calling cards. Does anyone know the best way to go? Our cell phone company told us this was the best option Thanks! (part 2) I'm stressing over clothing for Sydney. Any suggestion on clothing. What is the coolest it will get this time of year! So much for thinking you're ready to go Thanks bojabi
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Mar 19th, 2006, 05:06 PM
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bojabi, you've seen the rather wordy reply I posted on the US forum - just to save others going over the same ground (and to give others the opporutnity to correct any errors I might have made) I'll repeat it here.

BTW, when I commented that Telstra has the widest network coverage I should have said that that's more relevant in remote areas than urban or highway locations.

(Quote)
bojabi, I agree that posting this on the Australian forum would be a good idea. You'll also find good info if you run a search on the Europe forum, and www.gsmworld.com has exhaustive info. Having said that, I'll try to summarise the situation.

Most of the world except North America and Japan uses a cellphone technology called GSM. GSM is also used by some North American carriers, but is less common than the prevailing, incompatible, CDMA technology. To make matters worse, the frequencies used by US/Canadian GSM carriers (850 & 1900 Megahertz) are different to those used elsewhere in the world (900 & 1800 MHz).

GSM phones have a little clip-in card called a subscriber identity module (SIM), which stores your phone number and network info and can also store prepaid credits.

You can get triband (900-1800-1900) or quadband (850-900-1800-1900) GSM phones which can be used on both North American and other networks (again, Japan excepted). Or you can just get a 900-1800 GSM phone to use when travelling. To use it on any network other that the carrier's you bought it from, your phone must be "unlocked". You can buy unlocked phones on eBay. Failing that, unlocking codes for most are (I'm told) downloadable from certain web sites, or you can pay a phone shop to do it for you.

Once you've got your phone, when you arrive in Australia you can buy a SIM with a given amount of prepaid credit, clip it in and away you go. As you'll have a local number, you'll have to let your family know what it is so that they can call you. When you run out of credit just take it to any one of thousands of outlets and have it topped up.

The major Australian carriers are Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, and there are also resellers such as Orange. Telstra has the widest network coverage.

If you wish, you can buy an inexpensive phone, say a basic Nokia model, in Australia - a typical deal would be $99 (US$73) including $10 prepaid credit. (Be aware that if you do, it will be locked to the Australian carrier, typically for 6 or 12 months, after purchase.)

As all major networks have national coverage there's no additional charge for "roaming" between locations. However, Australian mobile phone rates are relatively high, so I'd use it for overseas calls only in cases of necessity, and for incoming calls. You won't be billed for incoming calls.

Australian mobile phone numbers are not prefixed by area codes, by the way - they have their own non-geographic '04' prefix 10-digit numbers. If someone in the US wishes to call you, they dial the US international access code + country code for Australia (61) + mobile number, omitting the leading zero.

Calling cards, which aren't the same thing as SIM cards, come in. They can be bought everywhere in different denominations from AU$10 up and carry an id. number and PIN. They can be used from any landline (or in extremis a mobile phone) and offer very cheap overseas calls, with a small sacrifice in call quality. You just dial a local phone number and then follow the prompts. You'll need to dial the international access code (in Australia, 1100) + US country code (1) + area code + local number. There's a bewildering variety of calling cards on sale - just pick one that offers a low rate (2-3 cents per minute) to the USA.

One advantage to having your own 900-1800 (or tri/quadband) GSM phone is that you'll be able to use it almost anywhere you go in the world.

As you've probably gathered, they're called mobile phones or "mobiles" here, not cellphones.

That's about it, bojabi. (bojabi - are you still there? Wake up! Wake up!)

(Unquote)
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Mar 19th, 2006, 05:11 PM
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I might as well tackle the weather question too.

Average Sydney low-high in March is 17-25C; April, 13-22C. That's pleasantly warm during the day, maybe a light sweater or jacket later at night, especially near the coast. The lowest recorded temps are (March) 7C, (April) 6C. Not too likely.
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Mar 19th, 2006, 06:53 PM
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Another useful website: www.prepaidgsm.net/
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Mar 19th, 2006, 08:31 PM
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Rivers will be having a sale so you can always buy clothing from them if the weather changes



Ummm, just ditto the comment of using a calling card.


Also, with the calling cards, even though its not as convenient as a mobile, there will be a phone somewhere you can use in an emergency.

If you want to buy a handset and get a prepaid card then I;d suggest picking one up at cash converters or at a market etc etc etc
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Mar 19th, 2006, 11:59 PM
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bhuty, from what I've seen of Cash Converters (for bojam's benefit, it's a chain of hock shops), their second-hand merchandise is overpriced, and as any cop will tell you the provenance of some items may be questionable. Personally I think the $99-type deals at supermarkets (eg Woolworths) and phone shops are pretty reasonable and you have the assurance of new goods. Admittedly they don't have all the bells and whistles, but all I need a phone for is to take and make calls and send the odd text message.
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Mar 20th, 2006, 08:33 AM
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Unless you need people to have instant access to reach you, the calling card is the way to go.
We were in OZ for 2 weeks, and bought a A$10 calling card. Called back to the US about every other day, and left Australia with money still on the card.
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