Cell phone for Europe

Feb 8th, 2007, 04:41 PM
  #21  
cie
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2
hello guys,
I am in NY and would really like to know what european prepaid cards you use to get a penny the minute to call within any country in Europe! as you know in US not all phones are gsm 3 band unlocked so we DO need to buy new GSM that match European standards. And roaming with cingular or t-mobile is prohibitive...and buying a local prepaid is not always easy to find...so many people got scammed and got burnt on their credit card later...please enlighten me!
cie is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 04:44 PM
  #22  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 19,000
Oh, forgot to mention: when you sign up for cellular service in the US, go with either a GSM carrier, or one who offers tri- or quad-band phones.

Yorkshire pudding - mmmmmmm.
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 04:48 PM
  #23  
cie
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2
euh...what about the 60M verizon subscribers? Plus sprint-Nextel! Plus all former ATT (now cingular) that are not gsm...guys it is A LOT of us in the US! so our only choice is either to rent, or buy online SIM cards from a myriad of suppliers...some better than others!
cie is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 04:55 PM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 6,040
Ok - I'm beginning to understand a bit better now. It sounds as though a lot of the people in the US don't have tri/quad band phones, wheras in Europe practically all cellphones these days are global.
RM67 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 05:38 PM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
RM67...

I think you do finally understand. What you must understand are the following facts about cell phone use in the USA.

1. The largest providers are not GSM...Verizon is the largest provider and is CDMA. Nextel/Sprint I have no idea what technology they use...Nextel uses sim cards but is not GSM although many Nextel subscribers can get a phone that supports both Nextel's technology and GSM. But for the most part, Nextel/Sprint are no goes for GSM.

3. That leaves Cingular and T Mobile USA. T Mobile USA was the original GSM carrier in the USA formed from a company called Voicestream. As such, they used only the 1900 mhz. frequency and here is the rub...the USA doesn't use the same GSM frequencies as much of the rest of the world, especially as is relevant to this discussion Europe. We can argue whether the USA should make greater efforts to globalize but then again we're still dumb enough, at least IMHO, to use outdated units of measurement (inches, feet, yards, miles) and outdated units of temperature (water freezes at 32 degrees Farenheit instead of the much simpler to understand 0 degrees Celsius...normal human temperature is 98.6 degrees F while it is 38 degrees Celsius) but leaving that aside, for whatever the reason the original USA GSM carrier used 1900 mhz...they offered tri band phones for international roaming which contained 900/1800/1900 and in that era T Mobile US customers were able to roam internationally, get their phones unlocked and either pay T Mobile USA's obnoxeously high roaming rates or get their phones unlocked and use them in Europe.

Fair enough...about 4 or 5 years ago, Cingular decided to migrate to GSM. But the 1900 spectrum was basically filled so they needed another frequency for their GSM system...and what they had available was the 800 band (or 850, it's the same thing) and voila as their GSM system developed, they shared some towers with T Mobile (1900) but much of their network was on 850....so this meant that manufacturer's if they so desired to produce tri band phones for use by Cingular clients had to use 850 and 1900 to give complete GSM coverage for these customers which only left one frequency which invariably is 1800 for their international tri band phones.

Now this confusion is also further perpetrated because Nokia refuses to give different model numbers to the tri band phones (900/1800/1900) they produce for most of the world and the tri band phones (850/1800/1900) they produce for the USA (and some other countries such as Canada)...therefore for example somebody buying a cheap Nokia 3120 on ebay must be aware whether it is tri band world (900/1800/1900) or tri band USA (850/1800/1900)...technically the second one is the 3120B but sometimes the seller or the buyer may not be aware of the difference.

Okay so that's the genesis of the problem. Now a Cingular customer roaming in Europe with his or her tri band Cingular phone will probably be okay as the phone looks for a network it can register on that is a partner of Cingular and in most cases, especially in the big cities, they will be able to find one. In some remote areas of Europe, there may only be 900 carriers in which case this cell phone will be useless. For a long time T Mobile US customers did not have this problem.

Now if you want a local prepaid sim, then you have to be careful if you are a Cingular customer. For example in the UK, T Mobile UK (which is also what Virgin Mobile uses) is essentially 1800 so they can buy a Virgin Mobile sim card, no problem. However, for the most part O2 is 900 (although they have some 1800) and a Cingular customer buying an O2 prepaid sim will have lots of dead spots!

Now this also affects Europeans coming to the USA to some degree. What it means is basically they will be able to roam only on T Mobile USA which for the most part is not a problem because T Mobile USA has some presence in almost all the large cities but out in some rural areas where only cingular rules and all GSM service is on 850, they will be out of luck.

The obvious solution, of course, are quad band phones but I don't know how popular they are in Europe...most quad bands are motorolas and I don't particularly like Motorolas...they were not as easy to unlock and they don't seem to have the audio capabilities of Nokias.

Now to cloud the issue a little further, T Mobile USA because of its lack of presence in the USA in many rural areas has begun making (US) roaming agreements with smaller companies in the USA. Well the problem is that most of these companies operate on 850 so the tri band phones T Mobile USA has begun to sell are, guess what, 850/1800/1900 which means somebody wanting a true international phone, can no longer get them from T Mobile USA but must go via the internet to vendors who get their phone from European and Asian sources.

Finally, prepaid is not handled the same way in the USA as it is in Europe. I don't think any of the companies make available sim cards if indeed they use GSM for their prepaid...but they almost all come with a very cheap throw away phone so if you want to use prepaid US coverage, you don't have to worry about your using your phone to roam...you will buy a US prepaid plan which will include a US phone with the phone being relatively cheap.

Hope that clarifies the problem and why Americans have to worry about these things.
xyz123 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 06:26 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 6,040
'RM67 - I think you do finally understand'

Hmmm - a bit patronising - it wasn't that I didn't understand - it was that no-one actually answered my question!

My enquiry was why do US citizens buy a new phone for Europe rather than use their own mobiles. Now, if someone had explained the lack of matching bandwidth when I first asked - (especially considering I specifically mentioned tri and quad band phones) - rather than focusing on the relative call costs which was to a large extent irrelevant, well...... 8-)

Still, thanks for going to so much trouble with your explanation - I do appreciate it. We (in Europe) are used to being able to use our phones pretty much wherever we go, so (erroneously) assume it must be the same for everyone else.... nice to find we are technologically ahead of you in something, at least 8-) 8-)
RM67 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 07:48 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 777
xyz123, that was as usual a great explanation and very interesting history. I do want to thank you again for all your help with the United Mobile and Callback World plans, which really worked well for us in Italy last fall.

We just got T-mobile service via Costco, which included a free Samsung quadband phone (SGH T619). Costco’s deal was better than what T-mobile offered directly. My husband actually is using the service with an unlocked Treo that he bought from Palm, since T-mobile doesn’t sell Treos. So I inherited the Samsung and have put a prepaid T-mobile card in it. T-mobile will apparently unlock the phone but not until you have had it for 90 days.

I found a code online that seemed to work to make the Samsung phone accept my United Mobile card, but I am not sure whether it really will let me use another network, since the only network it can get here in the US is T-mobile. So I guess I won’t really know if it is completely unlocked until we go to Europe. The reason I am wondering is that when I first tried the unlock code the display still said that the network lock was active. So it seems possible to me that the phone might not accept another network.

By the way, you can get a prepaid T-mobile card here:
http://www.internationalstudent.com/...ds/index.shtml
for use in the US if you already have a phone, without going through T-mobile. Once you have the card, you can top it up in the usual way through T-mobile, either online or via the phone itself.
nonnafelice is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 08:00 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
It's very simple to check out the phone as to whether it is locked...

Put the United Mobile sim card in and do a balance inquiry (via the menu)..balance inquiries are free. If you can get your balance, the phone is unlocked and will work in Europe. If you can't...if when you insert the sim card and turn it on and you get the phone is locked message you will never be able to register on T Mobile and the phone is locked! (if you don't get such a message and it doesn't register on any network, the chances are the phone is no longer knocked and at some point depending on what networks are available, the United Mobile phone will work.
xyz123 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 08:06 PM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
RM67...

Wasn't trying to be patronizing...you asked a question in your post and prefaced that I would answer it...I apologize if you think I was trying to be patronizing.
xyz123 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2007, 11:23 PM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
Hi xyz123,
UM worked in Egypt. Just with 15ct/US it was rather expensive compared to 09.is where enlinea only charges 10ct. Audio quality was horrible as usual. I ended up saying "over" after each sentence. Callbackworld and Enlinea are the same in that respect. (Maybe it actually IS the same system).
Deactivating German SIM, every phone company does it differently. Some still deactivate some don't. There have been court decisions against Vodafone and O2. They only say that you must get the money left on your account, if the card is deactivated. However since then those 2 don't deactivate any more.
logos999 is offline  
Feb 9th, 2007, 02:45 AM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Hi logos...

Thanks for the info...wonder what vodafone DE is doing about my prepaid sim...will be in Germany for 2 weeks this summer...

Enlinea and callbackworld indeed use the same system...that is pretty obvious. When one has an outrage, so does the other.

Voice quality seems to vary greatly depending on what network and where you are roaming. I know I used both a couple of weeks ago in both France and the UK and was very pleasantly surprised how well voice quality was for a change...you do make a good point about O9..however I never make O9 my prime to receive since it does not allow voicemail but is my preference for calling out for the most part (although some UK providers have rates as low as 4p/minute to call the USA from the UK).

I would suspect most isp have lousy voice reception in Egypt as all enlinea and callbackworld are doing is using an isp to provide the service.

Regards,

xyz
xyz123 is offline  
Feb 9th, 2007, 11:20 PM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
>This Motorola C115 is unlocked and covers both European frequencies. It's €29.99

Locked to T-Mobile it's 9.99€ at conrad.de. (Stores are close to downtown of most bigger cities). An unlocked Motorola 1600 can be found at "Saturn" for 39.99€ Tons of both phones available at their Munich stores.
logos999 is offline  
Feb 9th, 2007, 11:23 PM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
>Motorola 1600
Nokia 1600 of course, I'm a little "Motorola centric" it seems
logos999 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2007, 11:53 AM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 777
Re: "If you can get your balance, the phone is unlocked and will work in Europe. "

Thanks for the tip; that did work. When I put the United Mobile card into the Samsung and turn it on, it says Wrong Card. But if I wait a bit, it eventually decides it is going to accept the card and goes ahead with it. I also went to the Network menu and saw that I had a choice of T-mobile or Cingular, so it's pretty clear that the unlocking did work.
nonnafelice is offline  
Aug 6th, 2007, 01:26 PM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
Now that the 1ct/min smobile offer is over ,there's a better offer .

www.tchibo.de offer a SIM for 5€ including unlimited free calls to any other Tchibo SIM until August 2009. Unlimited like in FREE, even if it's 25h a day . Right now, the offer is limited until the end of the week, but surely will be extended.
logos999 is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 12:56 PM
  #36  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 19,000
I get it - they suck you in with free calls for two years, then they nail you with 5¢/min after that.

Oh, wait...
Robespierre is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 01:13 PM
  #37  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 38
I bought a sim card for my phone in Prague yesterday (vodaphone)it seems to be great value.
ozetraveller is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 04:05 PM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
> free calls
I can finally test, how long the batteries last. . Motorolas claims on one side, the reality on the other. I guess, they can write anything as long as nobody (at least no male) has the money to check it. (And no female cares checking it) . Now wait and see Motorola, logos999 is after you ;-)
logos999 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:35 AM.