Cell Phone in Italy with US number

Old Jul 30th, 2011, 04:01 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 1,215
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Cell Phone in Italy with US number

I have read several good posts on Fodor's about cell phones, international travel, and SIM cards, however.....

My cell phone does not have the ability to work overseas, so that will not be an option. I know pay-as-you-go cell phones can be bought in Italy when I land, however I was wondering if I can buy the pay-as-you-go cell phone in the US (so that the phone has a US phone number) and then buy the SIM card while in Italy which will work on the European networks.

Just not sure if this will work and if I am suppose to buy the minutes in the US or if I am required to buy the minutes in Italy when I purchase the SIM card.
JillDavis is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2011, 04:35 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Okay just to clarify how voice works....be aware technology is evolving but we'll keep it simple....European cell phones used for voice communications operate using a technology abbreviated gsm using two different frequencies...900 mhz and 1800 mhz. The largest cell phone provider in the USA which is verizon doesn't use gsm so its phones are useless in Europe (aslthough there are some more expensive models that operate both on the Verizon technology and gsm)...

Okay...a gsm phone's number, phne company the basic guts of the phone is determined by a chip called a sim card. Change the sim card say from an Italian company to a French company and the number changes from an Italian number to a French number. GSM phones sold by specific companies say in Italy may be locked to that company. That means the phone will only recognize sim cards issued by that company. Locked gsm phones can be unlocked legally or illegally depending on the country you're in and other factors. Unlocked gsm phones with the European frequencies are available on the internet for prices beginning at about $20....the more whistles the phone has, the more expensive but the cheapest phone will function okay for voice communications.

Now when you buy a sim card in Italy, you get an Italian phone number. Period. However, there are several companies that will give you say a US number with any area code you want. (I use localphone.com).....so I got a NYC number from them with a 212 area code (hard to get even from verizon)...I paid something like $2 for the number and maintain it for 99¢/month. I can program that number to ring to any number in the world so somebody dialing that NYC number after a slight delay will hear the European ring of my cell phone wherever I am. Their rates are very reasonable although they charge to the nearest minute. Receiving a call on the Italian number would be free. Sounds complicated but it really isn't. As a matter of fact, what I do is call forward from my home phone to the 212 number and then the call is forwarded to whatever cell phone wherever I am and am using.

There are also sim cards available from some companies available in the USA before you leave. These cards give you two different phone nubers which ring to the sim card...usually one is a British number with a +44 country code and the other a US number. If somebody dials thje +44 number, you receive calls for free throughout almost all of Europe. If somebody rings you on the USA number, you pay 19¢/minute to receive calls. Calling out while not dirt cheap is relatively cheap although somewhat more expensive to call a mobile phone outside of North America. E-kit sponsors these cards.

Hope this helps....tried to keep it as simple as possible.
xyz123 is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2011, 05:23 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,281
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Are you familiar with Best Buy? It is a large electronics store on the East Coast.
I was just in one yesterday and asked if they know of any pay as you go phones that are for sale that can be used in Europe. A phone for purchase here that is.
They said no.

They could be wrong. And you would still have to play around with SIM cards or some other calling plan.
Sher is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2011, 05:54 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sher...the easiest thing is to wait till you get to Italy...then ask the hotel concierge where is the nearest mobile phone store....with your fractured Italian and English, you want the cheapest phone they have along wth a sim card.....you can open the account with local phone, get the local USA number, find an internet cafe and program it and you can be reached that way or...

you can go to ebay and buy an unlocked gsm quad band phone and when you get to Italy buy the sim card or...

go to ebay and buy the gsm phone and then search on Italy sim card and I think they'll direct you to an e-kit card I referred to above where you'll get a European number (it'll be a UK number but big deal and a USA number and you'll have everything you need to be reached and to call while wityhn Europe..I just did a quick search on ebay for ekit sim card...there are several cards listed for $15.90 with free shipping..it comes with $10 shipping...ekit is reputable..I've used them...the whole set up is listed there...as you said you wanted something with a US number..you'll have it to giv e people to call you and reach you in Italy.....you'll pay 19¢/minute to receive calls they make to you...if you don't like them, give them the UK number....they'll pay for the cost of a call to a UK cell phone (it's in the vicinity of 30¢/minute on most ld carriers), you'll receive for nothing. Calls back to the USA cost 49¢/minute with a 35¢ set up fee...not the cheapest but you can make a quick call and ask the person to call you right back or get a calling card and not use the cell phone to call out...whatever you want to do......I see all sorts of gsm phones for between $20 and $30...just pick what you want...make sure they have the European frequencies (usually a quad band) and you'll be all set.

There are other solutions too.
xyz123 is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2011, 06:06 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 35,379
Likes: 0
Received 14 Likes on 11 Posts
>>>My cell phone does not have the ability to work overseas,
kybourbon is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2011, 06:43 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,523
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bestbuy may not sell unlocked phones but TigerDirect.com does.
Or as has been suggested, look on Kijiji.

Where I live unlocking an iPhone costs between 20 and 35 dollars.

Insert SIM of your choice in the country of your choice and you're good to go...
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2011, 02:24 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,281
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
xyz123. I was just curious when I was in Best Buy if there were any phones available.
I have already purchased an unlocked phone from Ebay and I already have an Italian SIM which I purchased from a poster who couldn't use it in Italy in March.

I was stupid enough to give my old unlocked T Mobile phone away which I used in Portugal two years ago. And while trying to use my current T Mobile phone in Budapest in October, not realizing that I hadn't unlocked it, it became permantly locked. Hence the Ebay purchase.

But I am carefully reading your info on localphone.com. This is something I am interested in.

I try to keep up with these things but must admit I get bogged down things change so fast. I have to ask how you do it. You always seem to have such up to date and valuable information.

Thanks
Sher is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2011, 04:06 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Let me make it clear, I'm not really an expert on this stuff. I stumble upon it. My best source of info has been on the forum on prepaidgsm.net and it's there where I pick up much of my stuff but it's tailored to what and where I go. I really, and I know I should, haven't gotten that much into smart phones yet and wish, for example, somebody here could help me out. One of my favorite apps I have on my smart phone (which is a sprint phone and of course useless when I leave the USA) is one that enables me to listen to just about any radio station in the world. So when I visit say California and rent a car, I take my cable that goes into the input jack and it serves both as a gps and I can listen to my hometown NYC radio station (it's unbelievable to be whizing along the Santa Ana Freeway and listening to WFAN on the car radio loud and clear, just amazing!). But I can't do that when I say make my two or three times a year visits to London (CBS radio, for example, has blocked access to its streaming radio stations outswide the USA when I try it on my notebook; that is if I am in my hotel room and can get free wifi (or insert the stick modem I have bought which allows me to access the net at £2/day, the connection is fairly slow but it works). One of my friends has a smart phone with O2 UK although on contract. He loaded the app and voila there I was listening to wfan. You know what; I think I'm going to post for advice on prepaidgsm.net but I'll open up the question here; somehow there must be somebody who can point me in the right way.

What I need now is an inexpensive PAYG smartphone for use in Europe which take android apps (I suppose I could get an iphone and get it unlocked(?) and a prepaid plan that will work mostly in the UK but throughout Europe at reasonable rates as I am very cheap.

Anybody here with any solid suggestions.
xyz123 is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2011, 05:46 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,523
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Get a used 3GS iPhone... I bought my daughter one recently for
$180 and paid 35 to have it unlocked and jailbroken. The owner had upgraded to an iPhone 4 and his olde 3GS was spotless. I'm not an Apple fan-boy but iPhones are number 1 for a reason...
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2011, 05:54 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,026
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I picked up several unlocked, used tri and quad band phones from eBay for next to nothing. They all work fine, but the quads are better than the triband.

As to a SIM, you can get an eKit sim in the States. It will have a UK number and a US number. Their prices are ok, but their customer service (the one time I tried to use it) was pretty lousy. However, with all that said, in the 5+ years I used their services, I only need CS once. Just google eKit if interested.

dave
daveesl is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2011, 05:59 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 35,379
Likes: 0
Received 14 Likes on 11 Posts
>>>And while trying to use my current T Mobile phone in Budapest in October, not realizing that I hadn't unlocked it, it became permantly locked.
kybourbon is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2011, 06:24 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 1,215
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks guys for all the great advice. This was very informative and was extremely helpful.

xyz123.....I was able to find the different quad-band phones, as well as the ekit USA SIM card on ebay for the prices you mentioned. I don't need anything special, just a phone as emergency or for one of my clients to reach me while I'm in Italy. Am I set after purchasing these 2 things?
JillDavis is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2011, 06:38 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,281
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
kybourbon. The problem with the phone in Budapest is that I tried to use my SIM when the phone wasn't unlocked. I didn't realize why until I came home and called T Mobile.
T Mobile told me that since I had neglected to have the phone unlocked before I departed for Hungary (remember I mistakenly thought it was) that trying to use it and entering different passcodes permanently locked it.
Not even T Mobile could fix what I had done. I guess if you erroneously enter a code several times, which I did, the phone no longer can be unlocked.
Sher is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2011, 06:39 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes....just read the instructions....insert the sim card and the instructions will give you a 4 digit pin....you can easily change the pin....upon start up it will ask for your pin...if you are in the USA or Canada you enter 2 followed by the 4 digit pin; if you're in Europe you enter 1 + the four digit pin....your phone will register on a network (you will see the name of the network on the phone. Done.

You may have to activate the USA number, can be done right on the net. Calling back relies on a call back thing while in Europe, a disadvantage of the card. You dial the number and you will be instructed to wait for a call back...about 5 or 6 seconds later, the phone will ring and you'll hear a voice telling ytou how long you have for the call...using the USA service on this card is straight forward...you just dial the number. Receiving the call, whether it comes in on the UK or USA number is straight forward...you hear the phone ring and you answer. Calls coming in on the USA number will have caller id; I'm not sure if calls coming in on the UK number do, that was a small issue a couple of years ago. It's up to you which number you give thembut if, as you say, one of the prime purposes is having a USA number to be reached in Italy, it operates fine and there have been few reports of difficulty with ekit in Europe.

I've used them for a while but now I use local phone with either a local sim or simply my UK sim as eu roamng rates have been going down for a while.
xyz123 is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2011, 07:10 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sher....there are different kinds of password protection and different solutions...the problem seems to be entering a wrong unlocking code....while T Mobile is sort of correct i.e. once you enter the wrong unlocking code a fifth time, the phone can no longer be unlocked via a code, there are ways to unlock the phone with cables...the phone is not permanently fried....it just can't be unlocked via code....it could still be used with a t mobile sim card or whatever company it was locked to and there are many outfits who can unlock the phone using cables to undo the locking code....I used to have the cables for that although the telcoms have been working with the manufacturers to make that more difficult but it probably can be unlocked...

Now, if the sim card come with a pin. If the sim card pin is entered wrong 3 times, you are unable to try again (actually you can try again but even if you enter the right pin, it won't boot up. In that case, what you need is a PUK (PUK not PUKE...password unlocking key) code which the provider of the sim card has access to; what they need is the sim card number. If you attempt to enter the wrong PUK code 10 times, it fries the sim card but not the phone.

So it's very possible the phone is not damaged beyond repair (but then again it might be)....
xyz123 is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2011, 07:56 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,281
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
xyz123 the phone is not fried because I used it at home when I returned. Originally I thought there was something wrong with the SIM. I had purchased it at the Times travel show for not very much money so I would be good to go in Hungary, Crotia and Poland. I sent it back to the company and they said the SIM is fine. And I also tried it with the new phone I ordered from Ebay and it works. So it was just stupid me.

I did enter the SIM pin number incorrectly. And I did it several times as I just could not understand why the darn phone wouldn't work. So I bagged using it and used Skype.
So maybe I can still use the phone if I take it with me and go into any phone store in Italy and have them unlock it. That way my husband and I would both have phones.

I have to tell you that I just wanted a basic, no frills phone on Ebay. I found one for $20 including s/h but they are few and far between when I was looking. A lot of fancier models now it seems.
Sher is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2011, 08:16 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 49,553
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Why is it important to have a US phone number? I have an Italian cell phone I bought in Chiusi for about $40 and an Italian SIM card and it serves my purposes just fine and was cheap. My friends in the US had no problem dialing the Italian number. All in all, a LOT less hassle than finding an unlocked phone here or getting one unlocked, etc., etc.
StCirq is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2011, 08:46 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
StCirq...let me explain my rationale which you might agree or disagree with...sometimes I am unable to inform all my friends who might wish to call me when I'm away....I have different options for doing this...one way is to use remote call forwarding on my home landline so for a while I could set say from the UK my home phone to ring to my UK cell phone...then when I went off to France re-set it to ring to my French sim and then when I headed off to Germany, well you get the message. My ld carrier has termination fees to European mobile so it would cost about 30 cents/minute for call forwarding plus everytime I changed sim cards, I had to phone the number to re-set the call forwarding. To get around that, I then began using my cell phone namely call forward from my landline to my cell phone and from the cell phone I could switch the call to number easily enough for no charge but then my cell phone carrier raised prices for calls to internationbal numbers....with a local US number, I can then call forward from my landline to my cell phone and use my many cell phone minutes to call forward to the US number and pay only for the local call from my landline to the cell phone...the call on my cell phone to any US number comes out of included minutes and I have unlimited nhight and weekend mnutes anyway. The only thing I need is the ability to go online to change with localphone the call to number or if using ekit, I need set it only once to ring to the ekit US number (it's cheaper for me to call all over the USA via my cell phone than my landline where I still have an old fashioned long distance play not that I ever make any long distance calls on the landline anyway; everything goes through my cell phone)...I know it's convoluted. Finally there are still people who think it costs an arm and a leg to call from the USA to Europe and in many cases, unless they've signed up for sme special plan, they might be right. In addition, many Americans are ignorant as to just how to dial say a European number from a US landline....for all those reasons, at least for me, it works to have a USA number ring to wherever I am.
xyz123 is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2011, 09:48 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 49,553
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
xyz123, I just send a text to everyone in my address book once I get to Italy (or wherever) informing them of my phone number (and telling them to use 101068 before the number if they wanted to save a bit). One text message costs very little. If people don't know how to make an overseas call, well, I probably don't need to talk to them.
StCirq is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2011, 09:58 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ah///tp eacj jos pr jer pwm///ptjers jave tp;d ,e wjem tjeu
re pm jp;odau. tjeu dpm
t wamt tp jave amutjomg tp dp wotj amutjomg gpomg pm at jp,e//<e We;; O jot am omtermet cafe everu ,prmomg pr ise u mptebppl tp read tje jp,etpwm mews[a[ers/ Wjatever/
xyz123 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:53 AM.