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On our way to Sydney/Auckland - last minute advice on phone service

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Dec 26th, 2013, 07:16 PM
  #1
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On our way to Sydney/Auckland - last minute advice on phone service

Just found out that Verizon charges $1.99 a minute and one of our traveling companions has to stay in touch with the States for business reasons. Also, I want to stay in touch while there with our traveling companions to coordinate meeting places and times. Any suggestions?
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Dec 27th, 2013, 02:33 AM
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There is no easy answer, we've travelled from Australia to USA and had the same dilemma. If your Verizon phones have a SIM card then you can buy a new SIM card here and top up money as you go. Just let people at home know your new number.

I don't think that will work though so another idea is to buy a cheap phone once you arrive, get a cheap SIM and top up with money. Not sure how much that will cost.

The two biggest phone companies are Telstra and Optus - they charge a lot per minute for calls but they have the best coverage. For cheaper options try Lebara or Amaysim or Virgin Mobile. No idea what is the best but hope this helps a bit.

Kay
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Dec 27th, 2013, 02:38 AM
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I just topped a thread which has some info you might find useful - it's called Tell Me About Coles Supermarkets and has some info on phones and wifi.

Kay
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Dec 27th, 2013, 05:36 PM
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Due to the timezone difference btwn US and AU there is a fairly small window for business calls. Have your companion arrange for a mutually agreed time to be in touch daily and use skype, it costs nothing. Worse comes to worst, he can make a one-minute cell-phone call to tell the other party to get onto skype if a pre-arranged time is not easy to plan for.
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Dec 27th, 2013, 06:26 PM
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What sort of phone do you have?

Most mobile networks in the U.S. (and Verizon in particular) are based on CDMA technology whereas the vast majority of the rest of the world is GSM based (though ATT now uses a GSM network). CDMA phones do not use a (removable) SIM whereas GSM phones do. Some CDMA phones are now GSM-capable (i.e., they also have a SIM slot) - for example the Verizon version of the iPhone 5s.

If you have a CDMA-only phone, the only way you'll be able to use it is by roaming and paying Verizon's roaming rates. If you have a GSM phone (or a GSM-capable phone) you can put in a local SIM card -- provided the phone is "unlocked". If you bought the phone under a Verizon contract (i.e., they gave you a "cheap" phone which you pay for by having an overly-expensive 2 year service contract) then the phone will be locked to the Verizon network and you can't get another SIM to work. Verizon will probably only unlock the phone for you when your contract is up (and even then they may not, a topic that is the subject of pending legislation in the U.S.).

If you have an unlocked GSM phone, as KayF suggests, just get a local prepaid SIM card when you get here. Telstra has the best network but is expensive. Alternatives are Optus and Vodaphone (Optus' network is generally considered to be better than Vodaphone's). There are also third-party resellers such as Virgin Mobile, Amaysim or Lebara (which operate over the Optus network). There are no resellers of Telstra service, as Telstra refuses to open its network to others.

Which service provider is better for you probably depends on whether you want voice-only or voice and data (and if you think Verizon's voice-roaming rates are bad, I suspect their data-roaming rates are eye-watering).

As KayF suggests, if needs be, just buy a cheap local phone (probably $40 - $80) and get a local prepaid SIM.

As an alternative, you used to be able to rent mobile phones at the airport. We did it a couple of times many years ago when we were here. Not sure if you can still do it but searching for "Sydney airport phone rentals" or some such term should provide information.

If you're trying to stay in touch with your traveling companions, remember that if one (or both) of you is roaming using a U.S. phone (i.e. not using a local SIM), you're making an international call (even if you're standing next to each other.....).
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Dec 27th, 2013, 08:21 PM
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Hmmm, that is a lot of good information. Thanks to both of you! I have a Verizon iPhone 5 (i.e. "cheap" phone which I pay for by having an overly-expensive 2 year service contract). We don't need data because we can access that on my iPad in free wireless zones. We'll be on a cruise part of the time with free internet. Kay, I'll check out that website and tt I'll check out phone rental at the airport.
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Dec 27th, 2013, 10:04 PM
  #7
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If you need some reading to lull you to sleep..... -

http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2010/09/gi...-gsm-and-cdma/
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Dec 28th, 2013, 06:02 AM
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Does he actually need to phone?

I needed to keep in touch with work while I was away, but a combination of e-mail using free wi-fi when it was available, and text when it wasn't, worked well, and dealt with the time difference, which is worse if you're from the UK as I am.

FYI, there is free wifi on the ferries in Sydney. Don't know about Auckland as though we went to NZ, we didn't go there apart from the airport.
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Dec 28th, 2013, 03:10 PM
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The Australia Post shops have good inexpensive deals on phones and SIMs, and they are everywhere - so if you go down the road of buying your own they are very competitive. Major phone companies are the state-owned Telstra (the best if you are travelling outside Sydney), Optus and Vodaphone. You can also get the much cheaper Lebara (good for overseas calls) or Amaysim.

Lavandula
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Dec 28th, 2013, 05:11 PM
  #10
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Forwarding this thread to our traveling companion. My husband is bring one of our unlocked phones and our first order of business will be to check out the Australia Post shop. We will be at the downtown 4 Seasons, hopefully there is one nearby.
Thanks!!!!
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