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advice for renting mobile phone at Heathrow (or should I just buy one?)

advice for renting mobile phone at Heathrow (or should I just buy one?)

Old Dec 26th, 2001, 06:40 PM
  #21  
beth anderson
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hey Nancy, is that you, topping me?


Beth
 
Old Feb 22nd, 2002, 03:43 AM
  #22  
JEFF
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Don't bother renting. Buy a cell phone with a pre-paid plan. I just got back from London and went to a chain store called the Link. I bought a small neat little phone for £59.99 with Virgin mobile being the carrier.

I had done a lot of research. Virgin mobile seems to have the easiest tariff to understand. First of all, there is no need to register the phone. You just buy vouchers at any phone store which come in £10 and £20 denominations.

2. The phone comes with £5 worth of call time.

3. Calls within the UK cost 15p a minute for the first 5 minutes each day and 5p a minute for that day. Period. No peak periods no anything else. Calls are timed by the second and rounded up to the nearest penny.

4. Calls to the US cost 20p a minute...far better than almost any pay phone or hotel. And the time of the call counts towards the first 5 minutes each day. So...if your first call in the morning is to the US and you speak for 5 minutes for £1, well all the rest of your calls that day are 5p a minute within the UK. BTW, if you call another mobile on another network you pay something like 35p a minute.

5. In the UK, the recipient of a call on a mobile pays nothing. The calling party pays (and large rates). That is the reason you often see on long distance tariffs in the US two different rates for calls to the UK; one for land lines and one for mobiles. However, if you use the 1016868 prefix service, which is available in most parts of the US for no additional charge, you pay the standard 7.9 cents a minute to call mobile numbers in the UK...(most mobile numbers in the UK start with a 07 prefix and remember when calling the UK from outside you don't dial the 0).. you can tell calls to London numbers are not mobile numbers as they would start with 020...(don't dial the 0 when calling from outside the UK).

6. The cheap little phone has some really neat features. It has a large phone book, you get voice mail although with Virgin voicemail they only hold your calls for 3 days but unlike other British mobile carriers, they don't charge you to access your voicemail.

So, you can buy the phone, give it to your friends when they go to England, get it back and feel like a real Englander as you will have your very own English phone number.

Incidentally, one other nice thing about Virgin Mobile. Several of the carriers, such as Orange, say they will disconnect your number if you don't make a call at least once every 180 days. Virgin states in its literature that its vouchers never expire.

If you need any further information, you can e-mail me and I will try to help.
 
Old Feb 23rd, 2002, 06:33 AM
  #23  
ttt
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to the top
 
Old Feb 23rd, 2002, 10:05 AM
  #24  
Janna
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Ok-let's see if I understand this. We will be in London for a week, will mostly want to call US and perhaps around London to check on opening times, etc...Is buying a cell phone the cheapest way to go? Versus paying hotel charges or payphone? Or buying a prepaid phone card at the postoffice? I'd really love the convenience of having no time concerns when calling the US and could have my family call me in London on the cell for free??? Thanks!
 
Old Feb 23rd, 2002, 10:29 AM
  #25  
Tony Hughes
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Dual band will work in Europe and UK if it's European spec. Dual band will work in USA and mainland Europe if it's US spec, wont work in UK. Triband works in all three areas (USA, UK & mainland Europe).
 
Old Feb 23rd, 2002, 10:35 AM
  #26  
pam
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AT & T world connect can send you a great little phone. I used one in Italy. When I had a problem getting through on a call one night, I called them up and they connected me. Not only that- they called when I came back and said there was going to be NO CHARGE!, as I had experienced a problem (it was very minor).
They can also send you a chip which gets inserted into your current cell and works abroad.
I loved the size of the phone and their service. I will be using it again for France.
Just thought you might like another option
 
Old Feb 23rd, 2002, 12:52 PM
  #27  
Rex
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<<let's see if I understand this. ...Is buying a cell phone the cheapest way to go?>>

Yes, I think that this is the cheapest way - - PER MINUTE of talk time. The cheapest way of all is to make no phone calls - - or very few.

As you can read in my first reply to beth's original question, to arrive at the truly cheapest accounting, you'll want to sell the phone back (forward?) Besides myself, I know of no other user of this forum who has done this. But I see that as a very natural thing that could start occurring here.
 
Old Feb 23rd, 2002, 03:51 PM
  #28  
Alec
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Virgin Mobile
As a user of UK mobile for nearly 10 years, I mostly agree with what Jess says about Virgin.
Pne thing to bear in mind is that Virgin is what's called a 'virtual network'. Unlike other operators like Vodafone, Orange etc, they don't own any infrastructure for cell phone communications, but 'piggy-back' on an existing network called One 2 One. Of all four networks, One2One has the poorest coverage. You are probably ok in London and in other big cities, but elsewhere you are more likely to find there's no coverage at all or your calls get dropped because of poor signal.
Other operators have copied Virgin's success and now offer similar tariffs, i.e. so much for the first 5 min a day and much reduced rate anything above.
UK users of Virgin phone can use it for roaming in much of Europe and elsewhere (where there's GSM coverage), at much lower rates than other pre-pay phones. Non-UK users can't because you need to set up direct debit from a UK bank account and are subject to UK credit check. A pity because it's really good and convenient.
Lastly, if you have a compatible handset from another network (dual band GSM and unlocked - not tied to particular service provider), you can just buy a connecting kit for 10 pounds and go on Virgin.
All the info you need can be found on their website:
www.virginmobile.com
 
Old Mar 6th, 2002, 01:49 PM
  #29  
Jeannie
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We will be in London for just a few days, then heading on to Ireland for 9 days. If I buy one of these cell phones in London, will it work similarly from the Republic of Ireland? (The more I read, the more confused I get!)
 
Old Mar 6th, 2002, 04:57 PM
  #30  
more?
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topping, any more?
 
Old Mar 6th, 2002, 06:14 PM
  #31  
Alec
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Jeannie, first, forget about Virgin Mobile. Non-UK residents can't set up international roaming. Of the other four operators, Vodafone, BT Cellnet and One2One all allow roaming on pay-as-you-talk phones in Republic of Ireland (Orange don't at the moment). There's no formality, just buy a lot of talktime credit before leaving UK (say around GBP50). You keep your UK number. It will however cost you a lot. Receiving a call while in Ireland will be around GBP1 a minute. Calling UK is around GBP1.50 a minute and USA around GBP2 a minute. If you want to keep the phone for emergency use, or for receiving calls only, then you can redial from a payphone using a calling card at much less cost. It's all explained in the documentation that comes with the phone, and on their websites.
 
Old Mar 6th, 2002, 08:08 PM
  #32  
Jeff
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Alec...you may be the one to ask.

You buy say a Virgin phone while you are in London. I understand you can't roam with Virgin outside the UK if you are not UK resident but the rates on the other carriers are really prohibitive to make roaming worthwhile BUT.....

Can't you upon arrival in the Republic of Ireland buy a SMS card for an Irish carrier, insert the SMS card into the Phone and hold onto the Virgin sms card and voila you have an Irish cell phone....isn't this the advantage of the SMS card technology. Of course, when you return to Britain you swap the SMS card and you have a Virgin phone again. And couldn't that be done with other countries. If I go to France with my Virgin mobile, I understand I can't roam. But can't I go into a French phone store and buy a SMS pack and now I have a French mobile number. And doesn't the reverse work i.e. you have a phone you bought in France with pre pay service. (Many of the same models are sold there)...you come to England, you pop into a Virgin megasotre, you buy a Virgin SMS kit for £10 you insert the SMS card into the phone and now you are on the Virgin system.....am I right in this?

Regards,

Jeff
 
Old Mar 7th, 2002, 01:52 PM
  #33  
Alec
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Jeff
Wish it were as simple as that! Until recently Virgin Mobile didn't lock their phones to their network, meaning that you could insert any SIM (not SMS - that stands for 'short message service, i.e. text messaging) and worked. Now they lock their phones to Virgin. If you credit your phone for 30 pounds or more, you can call their customer service and they will issue you with unlocking code. You tap it in and, voila, you have an unlocked phone. Alternatively, there are mobile phone shops that advertise unlocking service, for 10-20 pounds. By getting local SIM cards you save on roaming charges. One of the disadvantages of course is that you have different phone number in each country, which makes it difficult for people to contact you. If you want to go down this route, you find that in France a SIM pack will cost from around 30 to 40 euro, 40-50% of which is call credit. In Ireland, Vodafone Ireland sell 'Ready to Go' SIM pack for 19 euro with 10 euro credit. Similar offers from Digifone and Meteor (cheaper, but limited coverage outside Dublin). You can get them from most mobile phone shops.
Yes, provided your French mobile is unlocked, you can get your Virgin service pack for GBP14.99 with GBP5 credit and insert it.
 
Old Mar 7th, 2002, 04:50 PM
  #34  
Tony
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Heres a novel suggestion.

Go without a phone. You'll get used to it after a while, and you'll have a lot more time to take in the sights and enjoy the ambience etc.

Could be a lot of fun. And think of all the catching up you will have to do when you get back home.

It's always puzzled me why Americans have great difficulty in walking past a phone without calling someone - it was one of the first things we noticed when visiting the States even way back in the 70s.
 
Old Mar 23rd, 2002, 06:22 AM
  #35  
Jeannie
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sorry to be so dense (I'm the 3-nights-in-London then 9-nights-in-Ireland poster). I don't expect to make many outgoing calls on my cell phone; I just want my almost-adult kids who are staying home in the States to be able to reach me at any time. So I'm looking for very basic service with cheap charges for incoming calls. (I don't understand all the SIM SAM stuff). HELP?
 
Old Mar 23rd, 2002, 05:06 PM
  #36  
Alec
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Walk into any mobile phone shop (there are tons in London) and buy the cheapest pay-as-you-go phone with any network, around GBP50. Your family can call you for the cost of transatlantic call (nothing to receive). Use calling card from newsagent to call home from payphone or hotel phone (in the lobby), from 5p/min. If you get an Orange phone, it will only cost 20p a minute to call US.
 
Old Apr 6th, 2002, 10:28 AM
  #37  
Jeannie
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ttt
 
Old Apr 6th, 2002, 04:55 PM
  #38  
Alex
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Interesting read. Now, has anyone tried Cellhire USA or any of the "rent it in the USA" firms?
 
Old Apr 7th, 2002, 08:01 AM
  #39  
Louise
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Yes, but purchasing turns out to be a much better deal.
 
Old Apr 23rd, 2002, 02:38 PM
  #40  
Jeannie
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Alec,
will buying the phone as you mention also work for us for Ireland?
 

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