Call In Europe - Cell Phone in France

Apr 9th, 2010, 08:36 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
I've used country specific SIMs from CallinEurope for many trips. Though not necessarily the very cheapest, it suits my purposes and billing has always been straighforward and totally accurate. I like not dealing with a manual in a foreign language, having the phone number before leaving home, and the customer service is exceptional. It's very convenient to be billed only for usage and not having to "top off" a SIM, worry about running out in the middle of a call, or having prepurchased time go to waste.

For gelatolover: Depending on when you got your CIE phones, they may be unlocked (call them and ask), so you would have the option of purchasing local SIMs on arrival if you like. And, are (or can you have) your IPhones unlocked (if they are GSM)? You can get data service with CIE. Compare rates with AT&T.

As a precaution, it's a good idea to lock both your SIM and your phone (separate procedures). So, if the phone is lost/stolen, the SIM cannot be used in another phone, and your phone won't work with another SIM.

ALL SIMs expire at some point if you don't top them off.

You can definitely save a bundle with text messages as opposed to calls/conversations.
djkbooks is offline  
Apr 11th, 2010, 12:29 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 12,890
I also use I just got back from Paris again last Sunday and my bill has already been done and sent to me by e-mail and the amount will be deducted from my bank account. It's very easy with them and I like the fact of not having to have a calling card that can go out on you in the middle of a conversation, as mine often does when I'm in Bangkok and am on the calling card plus SIM card combination. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Apr 12th, 2010, 06:38 AM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 243
djk: I suppose I can ask AT&T to unlock our iPhones? I remember when unlock codes were sold on eBay (they actually worked). That's a good idea to use the CiE card on the unlocked iPhone - maybe cheaper than AT&T rates (which are $24.99 for 20 mb and $59.99 for 50 mb).

And I didn't know that I can lock the SIM too? Is that something that CiE can do for me?

A big thanks to all who responded!
gelatolover is offline  
Apr 12th, 2010, 08:49 AM
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Is the same package good in both the UK & France?

Keith is offline  
Apr 12th, 2010, 09:31 AM
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The CIE SIM has a preset PIN. You can use it to change the settings so that none is required (not recommended) or change to the PIN of your choice. If you want to change the PIN, follow the directions carefully, as if you don't do it correctly, you'll need a PUK to unlock it, which can only be acquired during business hours.

Just call AT&T and tell them you want to unlock your phones.

Locking the SIM and locking the phones are separate functions. With most phones, you can receive calls without the PIN. Just keep in mind that the SIM is unlocked until you turn off the phone service (not to be confused with the device turning itself off), so it's a good idea not to walk around with it unlocked.
djkbooks is offline  
Apr 12th, 2010, 10:15 AM
Join Date: Aug 2009
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djk: got it! Thank you SO much for all your help.
gelatolover is offline  
Apr 12th, 2010, 08:08 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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Yes, very true. I always keep my phone so there's a PIN in it in order to use the phone. I never disengage the PIN.

When I was ordering my callineurope SIM card for this recently finished trip to Paris, they had no phones available for those who might need to rent a phone. It wasn't a problem for me as I bought an unlocked, GSM, triband cell phone in Bangkok some years ago as I'm there regularly and they are very inexpensive there. So, all I needed, for Paris, was a new SIM card as the old ones, for previous trips to Paris, had expired. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 01:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Keith....I would suspect roaming rates for this particular card are much more expensive if used in the UK...that's the bad news.

The good news is that UK mobile competiton is so fierce,k they are literally giving sim cards away for free or next to free if you need to know the number in advance.

You can buy UK sim cards from vodafone, T Mobile and Orange and a firm called Libarra (spelling might be incorrect but you can check) on ebay for about $5 shipping included (if you wait till you get to the UK, they'll be free)....the big UK mobile companies will post free sim cards to any UK address so if you know the address of your hotel you can have them posted there. With T Mobile UK and Orange, you can tie in with a company called yourcallworld ( making calls to popular places such as Canada, the USA, Australia for as little as 30/minute (most assuredly not a typo) although calls to Australian mobiles would be 15p/minute...(calls to USA and Canadian mobiles are charged the same rates as landlines)...libarra has a plan for calling the USA for 4p/minute...vodafone 5p/minute, Orange (without yourcallworld) 6p/minute (how outrageously expensive .

UK sim cards are very very simple to top up (the ones you buy on ebay come with no credit except for vodafone)....if you have an unlocked gsm phone with 900/1800 mhz bands, you're all set to go. All of them come with free reception of calls while in the UK and relatively cheap (19p/minute) reception of calls throughout the eu although I am afraid the dirt cheap calls outside the eu disappear when you leave the UK. Still a bargain while you're in the UK and the cheapest plans most anywhere in Europe (Germany has some cheap plans too but for me there is a language problem. I don't have any language problems in the UK as English and American are pretty closely allied languages).
xyz123 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 04:45 PM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 47
I am not well versed in cell phone lingo. Could someone briefly explain how a SIM card works and how it is installed. Callineurope is selling a Nokia phone for $29 and a SIM card for an additional $29. Outgoing calls to US and Europe are .39 per minute and incoming calls are free.

We will be in France and Spain for 3 weeks in May and would like to have a cell phone, just in case. We probably would not make many calls, but we do travel to Europe for 3 weeks twice a year. Let's say we make five 10 minute calls which is $19. Am I correct in assuming the total for the phones and calls would be 29 + 29 +19, or $77? Or am I figuring this out all wrong. I plan to call CIE tomorrow, but it would be helpful if I had some basic knowledge about this. Thanks for any help.
halfempty is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 09:57 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
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halfempty, are you US based, if so whos is your carrier. You may already have a phone that will work in Europe. If so, just purchase the sim card.
mrcamp is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 10:14 AM
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halfempty: Yes, you pay for the phone, plus the SIM, plus for any calls you make.

Agree with mrcamp- contact your US carrier. All have much more competitive plans/rates now. If you need a phone only for emergencies or the occasional call, using your home carrier may be much more economical and convenient than investing in a phone and SIM plus paying for calls.
djkbooks is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 11:18 AM
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I have some time so I will do a quick primer on mobile phones and what is being talked about.

First of all, I'm not a geek and the mobile phone revolution continues on. But what we're talking abot are phones just for voice calls and we'll leave data aside. These are basically 2nd generation phones and while they are becoming obsolete to a degree, their total death is certainly not imminent.

Having said that, there are several different technologies for mobile phone communication. In the 1990's, the European countries adopted as their standard something called GSM (don't ask me what it stands for) because of its flexibility. You know a Dutchman living 30 miles from the German border might spend every other weekend in Germany so you didn't want all sorts of different technologies. The USA for a variety of reasons shunned gsm for a long while and even today, the largest US carrier, Verizon, uses a totally incompatible technology (as do Nextel and others). Only T Mobile US and AT&T use GSM. So Verizon phones, for the most part, are useless in Europe (they have bulky ones which have both their technology and GSM but nobody buys these).

Okay so GSM operates with a little chip called a SIM card (I happen to know what SIM stands for; Subscriber Information Module). In most GSM phones if you open the back, take out the battery, you will see a slot where you can insert the sim card. The sim card determines the guts of the phone, the carrier, your phone number whatever. It is supposed to be removable and for the most part it is but sometimes it's difficult. So if you live in Britain and have a British cell phone account with Orange UK, you have an Orange UK sim card in your phone. If you go to France, you can either use the Orange UK sim card,in which case you pay higher fees to make and receive calls this is called roaming or you can take out the Orange UK sim card and put in a sim card issued by a French telcom; voila the phone now has a French number. You can't do that with Verizon phones.

Now, for reasons based on availability of spectrum space, European GSM phones and North American GSM phones use different frequencies. The European phones use 900 and 1800 mhz. while North American phones use 850 and 1900 mhz. That's not much of a problem anymore as most receng gsm phones are capable of using all 4 bands (hence the name quad band).

Companies subsidize hones so as to get you hooked on their service. Thus T Mobile USA might give you a good deal and to entice you to buy their service instead of AT&T, they might give you a real good deal on your phone. But guess what, they don't want you to go over to AT&T. So many gsm phones as sold by many telcoms are said to be locked. That is upon being turned on and booted up, if a different sim card is in the phone than the company that locked the phone, the phone will not boot up. However, gsm phones are either sold unlocked or can be unlocked by calling the ompany that locked it, this is called unlocking the phone. An unlocked GSM quad band phone will work anywhere that gsm is the technology in that country. All you need is a sim card.

When you travel, many companies sell pay as you go plans (PAYG),,what that mneans is to subscribe to that service they sell you (or give you as is the case often in Great Britain say) a sim card, you insert it in the phone and voila you're on the network. But to pay for the calls, you have to buy time. There are various ways this is done. This is called topping up. For the most part in Europe, when you have a country specific PAYG plan, you receive calls while in that country for free; the caller pays the premium. As noted, while say a British sim card will work outside Britain (it is called roaming), you lose the free reception of calls and pay much more to make calls. In Britain, as I've noted, because of the competition, you can make international calls using a British sim card and a PAYG phone for as little as 3p/minute (do you need a quick course in British currency?) me that's dirt cheap, less than 5 cents US a minute!

I think I covered the high points to better help you understand what is being talked about here and in other threads regarding European 2g mobiles. But we can talk about international sim cards where you get free reception of calls throughout all of Europe, something you don't get with CIE which is essentially a French sim card (although post paid, which is not necessarily good because if it is stolen, people can run up big big bills for which you are responsible; with PAYG the most you can lose is whatever funds are left on the sim card (unless you have automatic top up which I don't recommend for that reason).

I am sure there is much more to say but remember this was meant to be the basic course. And unlike some of the misinformation you see in travel books or even on this board, the information as of today is quite correct. Of course, with all the advances in technology, tomorrow might be a different story.
xyz123 is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 11:27 AM
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nukesafe is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 11:36 AM
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Oh yes...assuming you're American, if you have a cell phone plan with either AT&T or T Mobile USA, you have a gsm phone. If the phone is of recent vintage, it probably is a quad band (see you understand what that means now). Both AT&T and T Mobile USA allow international roaming on their plans. It is free to sign up but very expensive to receive calls and make calls. But if you only want to use the phone in an emergency and just want to leave your number with the dog sitter, it will work but ouch it's very easy to run up huge fees...and it is easy to become addicted to it. Text messaging is a good option and not too expensive (I know with T Mobile USA you can receive text messages for free if you have such a plan and sending a text message only costs 35¢).

However, if you're going to be away for any length of time, then it might pay to get a local PAYG sim card (you see again you now know what I'm talking about)..because while in that country you don't pay to receive calls (your caller pays and if he or she is calling internationally, the rates to call a mobile are much higher than to call a landline be aware of that)....France is on the more expensive side, I am afraid, for PAYG plans...what is being talked about here is a plan for France. However, now British sim cards as I said four or five message up are dirt cheap, in many cases free, easy to get, easy to top up and one of the wonderful things of travelling to Great Britain is the language they speak there is very close to American and for the most part you will understand what people are saying and be able to read instruction manuals. About the only hassle is letting people know your British number (it has a country code of 44 and starts with a 7 so peole calling you from North America, assuming you're in North America, will have to dial 011 44 followed by your number omitting the leading zero (which is sort of like the 1 at the start of American and Canadian numbers) and trying to convince them that calling internationally is not very expensive besides which, they cal always call you, tell you the number they're at, and you can cfall them right back for 3p/minute!

Now my dear friend logos, who we don't seem to hear from too much anymore, can explain how cheap German sim cards are (but then again you have to speak the language and German and American are pretty different languages for a linguistically deprived person such as myself..

What a great way this was to pass a few minutes.
xyz123 is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 05:32 PM
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xyz123 -- Thank you so much! What a great tutorial. My US Cellular folks just gave me instructions to "unlock" my Blackberry myself to get a French SIM card. Was I talking to an idiot or can I do it myself? Is there something they need to do besides give me the instructions?
SuzChicago is offline  
Apr 16th, 2010, 04:44 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,522

Good info and thanks for taking the time to explain what many people may not have known much about. But all that info is one of the reasons I like my CiE phone... it's simple! And it's in my pocket before I leave, I already have a number, it will work from pretty well anywhere in Europe without needing a new SIM or paying higher rates and I can have calls forwarded to me.

And if it were lost or stolen why would the charges that could possibly be put on by the thief be any more of a worry than my 'regular' phone I use at home? Calling CiE and/or my credit card company would fix that... aside from locking the phone or SIM.

I am pretty comfortable with tech stuff but when I go to Europe I want simple, reliable and nothing I need to hassle with to work in a foreign language. ;^)

ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Apr 16th, 2010, 04:52 AM
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xyz: Thank you for taking the time to explain Cell Phone Use in Europe 101. Much appreciated!
gelatolover is offline  
Apr 16th, 2010, 05:17 AM
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xyz. I love to use my phone when I am away. As you said, it can become addictive. The last time I was in France I used Call In Europe.
But calls in Portugal with a Vodaphone SIM were more expensive. And I have no idea what the cost will for a SIM or multiple SIM cards in Croatia, Hungary or Poland.

I did purchase a SIM from One Sim with a small amount of time and it is roaming from Estonia which isn't the best but it was worth it for me to have it in hand when I arrive to call the apartment owners of each country. Because I know it is basically going to be .59 per minute where I am going.
I really do not care if my family knows the number before I leave. But I would like to reduce cost a little per minute. I don't suppose I will use the phone less.

What do you think is the best way to purchase one of the PAYG British SIMs? Do you feel they are the most reasonable cards to use for roaming currently?.
Or, I would even be willing to buy three different SIM cards but somehow I get tangled up in trying to find out which ones to get and what costs what.
Sher is offline  
Apr 16th, 2010, 06:50 AM
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Gelatolover, If you are ordering a SIM card from CallinEurope don't forget to include their shipping and handling fee, which I thought was very expensive, when trying to decide on cost of phone service. I was charged $14.00 for S&H of one card, from CT to my home in Maryland. I've had the CIE card for two years mainly for travel to France where CIE has their cheapest phone rates, they are less of a savings in other countries. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Apr 16th, 2010, 07:48 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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As for callineurope, the SIM card is $29.00 and the shipping is $12.00. I just paid it again four weeks ago. I really think they should come down on the shipping cost which is really too high to ship something that, in weight, would take 1 or 2 max, forever stamps if sent through the U.S. mail system. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  

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