Using a US Cell Phone in Australia/New Zealand

Jan 4th, 2008, 12:56 PM
  #1  
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Using a US Cell Phone in Australia/New Zealand

Does anyone know whether any US cellphone providers offer a phone that can be used in these two countries, and also has good US coverage? Thanks
steve37 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2008, 03:24 PM
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International Roaming will cover all your needs if your call providor has it.
LizzyF is offline  
Jan 4th, 2008, 05:10 PM
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Steve, I have an ATT cell phone plan. When I travel internationally I just call them and enable it (5 / month) calls are $1/minute with this (expensive, so no long chats).

I've had no problem with coverage in Australia, Bulgaria, Switzerland or England. I can't imagine that it wouldn't also work well in New Zealand.
Toucan2 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2008, 05:33 PM
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We have cingular (now ATT) and got the unlock code from them before we left the US. We then bought a $25 prepaid SIM card which gave us a new number, but gave us local rates in the country (Australia). The SIM card was worth $25 in calls, so it was "free". It was great for calling ahead, contacting Fodorites (hi, Neil, Bokhara, Alan, and Pat!) etc. To call home we got a $30 prepaid MCI card from Costco that we haven't used up in two trips to Australia and calling home quite a few times each trip. I think the US coverage of the ATT is fine, as good as any, I guess, but havent' tried to go out in the boonies with it.
Sally in Seattle
SnRSeattle is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 07:58 AM
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Just make sure your GSM phone is a "quad band" or "world phone" otherwise it won't work everywhere.
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 06:20 PM
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Good point, Elizabeth. North American GSM-standard phones work on the 850 and 1900 Megahertz frequencies, which are used in very few other countries. Australia uses 900 and 1800 MHz, the international standard and I think NZ uses 900 only.

The dominant standard in the US is a technology called CDMA, although GSM is catching on.

If you want to make lengthy calls home the best idea is to buy a calling card with cheap rates to the USA. You can buy them everywhere in Australia, post offices included (and I'm sure NZ too).
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 10:30 PM
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Help: we are on Verizon. We are meeting our son (same system) in Queenstown. Can anyone tell me how we set ourselves up to communicate in NZ?
margie1234 is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 05:47 AM
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If you are on Verizon in the US - then your phone is CDMA, NOT GSM.

I am not aware of Aust/NZ using CDMA technology - and if not, then your phone is no better than trying to use a US manufactured toaster to make calls with.

Sorry, perhaps others will be aware if Aust/NZ uses any CDMA.
Best, Dave
Dave is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 06:34 AM
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You may have to rent a cell phone from Vodafone.You can rent them by the day, week or month for pick up once you are there. I have made calls to Verizon about this dilemna. Unless you want to buy a new phone that is GSM "enabled" this is your solution.
zinfanatic is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 02:38 PM
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Thank you both. I will look into vodaphone.
margie1234 is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 07:29 PM
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Telstra installed a CDMA network in Australia some years back to supplement GSM in rural areas, but it's due to be switched off on 28th January in favour of a 3rd generation mobile network. In any event it probably uses a different frequency band to the US network.

However GSM (Global System for Mobiles) will remain ubiquitous in Australia for a good while yet.

Going back to the original question "and also has good US coverage?" - while GSM is now more widespread than it used to be in the US, last time I checked there were areas where coverage was poorer than CDMA. If you were planning to use a quadband GSM phone back home you'd need to check AT&T (or whoever's) coverage maps.

"...if not, then your phone is no better than trying to use a US manufactured toaster to make calls with"

- And I wouldn't recommend trying to make toast with it either, because the power supply in these parts is 240v.

Neil_Oz is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 11:01 AM
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"I wouldn't recommend trying to make toast with it either, because the power supply in these parts is 240v."


Best, Dave
Dave is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 04:52 PM
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More info from verizon! I have an old Nokia phone with Verizon service.I was intially misinformed by Verizon about using my phone in NZ. I have since been told that I can use my phone which is CDMA in NZ, but it seems I will be charged international roaming charges. I had to update the roaming capabilties- with their phone help. I have decided not to rent a phone for a month for $80 NZ. Since I just need this phone for a possible road emergency I can incur some charges without breaking the bank! I will have to bring a charger and buy a plug adapter also.
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