cell phone purchase for Europe

Aug 19th, 2004, 03:28 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
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By the way, even if you decide to have your phone unlocked and get a Italian SIM once you get there, you should still call T-Mobile to activate "WorldClass" service (or do it online), and take your original SIM card with you. This way, you can use your phone right after touching down if you have to (and pay $.99/min). And on the way back, switch it back to your original SIM so that you can use your regular US service right after touching down here.
rkkwan is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 02:18 AM
  #22  
 
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hello Dee
A picture is worth one thousand words.
I made a small research in Internet and I found this site http://www.220-electronics.com/simcards/usaca.htm
Focus on the top left figure and ignore the remaining. The plastic card saying "CINGULAR" is the size of a credit card. On the left part of it there is a smaller area (marked with black lines) with a chip. That smaller plastic card with a ship is exactly the famous SIM (Subscriber Id Module). The SIM is assymetric as you can see in the figure to avoid misplacements.

If you telephone is GSM, it must have a SIM, if it's not easy for you to find it, refer to the user's manual.

One of the magic tricks of GSM is the concept of SIM, if you place a US SIM you are client of a US Operator, if you place a French SIM, you are a client of a French Operator, etc...

With a single mobile telephone, you may have multiple telephone numbers, according to the SIM you place in it.

As rkkwan said, your operator can do nothing to prevent you to replace the SIM, except lock it. You can always insert SIMs of different operators in a locked or unlocked telephones, the difference is that a locked telephone ignores them while the unlocked telephone assumes immediatly a new number and starts acting as a client of the new operador.
lobo_mau is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2004, 08:40 AM
  #23  
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Great posts--thanks!

I have spoken with T-Mobile customer service and told I can call and get a code to unlock (she didn't state any wait period, but maybe she didn't know).

So I've bought an Italian SIM from cellularabroad. Here's a NEW QUESTION:

How can you tell on your SIM how much time you have left, or is there any way?

Thanks again,
Dee
dee20002 is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2004, 09:00 AM
  #24  
 
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...anybody ever hear about a SIM card from Iceland with really low roaming rates? That might be a solution if you will be in several countries.
...or Mom...let your son enjoy college! By Thanksgiving he will be plenty homesick anyway. I know I sure was that first year.
good luck and have a great trip.
PatrickEssen is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2004, 10:39 AM
  #25  
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Yes, Patrick, wish I could. But he's so homesick and lonely he's calling every 5 minutes (it seems) whereas he never would talk to me much before -- and is very worried about being unable to reach me when I go to Italy. Yes, have hubby and other son, but for some reason college boy wants to talk to me now.

Yes, hopefully, by the time of the trip (mid oct), things will ease up, but expect the best and plan for the worst, if you know what I mean.
dee20002 is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2004, 12:44 PM
  #26  
 
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dee, do you know which italian cell phone carrier it is? Vodafone, TIM, WIND?

I use vodafone. With vodafone, I dial 404 on my phone, it disconnects, and then I immediately receive a text message (SMS) telling me how much money (credit) I have left on my telephone. I don't know how TIM and WIND work. Also the message will be in Italian, but you can figure out what it says.
amy_zena is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 09:59 AM
  #27  
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Yikes, yet another twist! I never heard of the Vodaphone, Tim, Wind choices. It's just an SIM for Italy sold by cellularabroad -- maybe Cellularabroad said and I didn't pick up that there was a diffeence. Haven't received it yet, so don't know if the Sim will tell me. But perhaps they all work the same so I'll try to make sure to know the necessary Italian!
dee20002 is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 11:00 AM
  #28  
 
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Do you know the telephone number for the SIM card yet? If you tell me the first 3 numbers of the number, I can probably figure out what company it is. 345, 347 and some others are vodafone. 335 is one of the prefixes for TIM....etc.

I am not familiar with Cellularabroad. Do you mind me asking how much you paid for the Italian SIM card? Just wondering if you paid more or less than if you would have just popped into a shop here and bought a SIM from Vodafone.
amy_zena is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 12:15 PM
  #29  
 
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Don't want to burst the bubble, but if you look at cellularabroad.com, you'll find that the Italy card they sell is from TIM, and has 30 Euros of credit on it. Yet, they charge you US$89 plus at least US$8 of ground shipping. That means they make a net profit of close to $50 for sending you a card. In my opinion, one would be wise to get it after getting there, unless you need to use the phone right away while still at the airport. But in that case, then why not just use T-Mobile USA's service for $.99/minute?

In my opinion, it's a huge ripoff.
rkkwan is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 12:26 PM
  #30  
 
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Actually (to try to make Dee feel better), out of that $50 profit, you would have had to buy the SIM card here which would have cost at least 20 euro, I think. I forgot how much I paid for my SIM card. So really it's not that much of a profit, and you don't have to go to a shop in Italy now to buy the SIM card. But yes, it would have been cheaper buy the SIM here in Italy.
amy_zena is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 01:00 PM
  #31  
 
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Granted, I have no idea how much you need to pay upfront for a SIM card in Italy locally. However, I see that cellularabroad sells Orange SIM card for Hong Kong. They charge US$69 for a card with ~US$12.5 credit on it. I know that you can get the card in Hong Kong with no extra fees. Just pay the HK$98 (~US$12.5) for the starter kit. Therefore, cellularabroad makes a US$50+ profit in that case.
rkkwan is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 01:44 PM
  #32  
 
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The card sold on CellularAbroad's website is a TIM card

If you buy one in Italy, a TIM card is 40€ and comes with 20€ calling time.
marcy_ is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 02:54 PM
  #33  
 
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So, it's not too bad. 30 euro of call time plus, 20 euro of SIM fee, that's about US$61 worth. So, they make <$30 of profit in this case, and you pay whatever shipping.
rkkwan is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 05:53 PM
  #34  
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Wow, thanks all. So I'm getting a Tim (en route), although it does sound like I just made a stupid purchase -- but won't twice! But someone wrote I could just use my T-Mobile from Italy and pay $.99 a minute or something. So, but for the price, CAN one use a US cell company? Could I have just brought alone my old US Cellular Star-tac phone but paid high rates? I thought the cell phone wouldn't work period.--?
dee20002 is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2004, 06:08 PM
  #35  
 
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dee - You need a tri-band or quad-band GSM phone to be able to make any calls in Europe. So, your old phone will not work. But your new T-Mobile will work, without having to be unlocked, as you'll still be using your T-Mobile USA SIM card. You just have to call them to activate "WorldClass Service", and then you can make calls from anywhere. Rate from Italy is $0.99/minute, whether you'll calling Italy, US or China. It's different country to country, but from most of Western Europe, it's $0.99/minute.
rkkwan is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 03:30 AM
  #36  
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Interesting news--as I have ordered a "quad" Motorola 600 phone with T=Mobile, to receive soon.

So much simpler and only one number for son to remember -- and 100 minutes for the cost of my Sim (and that's a lot of minutes for me for a 10 day trip). Thinking of returning the Sim (minus more shipping, of course).

So will the T-Mobile then work in Italy like our companies do here (that is, charge for outgoing but not incoming calls?)

Also, can you use one of those 10-10 numbers in Italy while using a US cell company?
dee20002 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 04:15 AM
  #37  
 
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No, all calls are charged when using the T-Mobile USA SIM card overseas. Outgoing and incoming.

If you're using your T-Mobile USA SIM card in Italy, there's no reason to use another long-distance service. You are already charged US$0.99/minute whoever you call in the world already, as I said in my last post. Why would you add another cost to that?

The nice thing about using the T-Mobile USA card overseas is that people here in the US can call you like they've always, and will not cost them any extra whether you're in the US or is traveling overseas.
rkkwan is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 04:17 AM
  #38  
 
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Also, I don't know who sell you the Motorola V600, but the version that T-Mobile sells here is only tri-band: 1900 for T-Mobile USA, and 900/1800 for use internationally. It shouldn't be a quad phone, and there's no need for it to be, unless you decide to switch to Cingular or AT&T here in the US.
rkkwan is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 10:58 AM
  #39  
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Just got my phone. The "Sim" card is nothing but a very small "smart card" like you use for digital cameras!!!! It came without the Sim installed. I installed it. So I'm wondering if this means it is "unlockable" by me.

Plus, do I have to alter a setting somewhere for the other frequency or is the frequency built into the Sim card?

Thanks again. Ciao!
dee20002 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 11:20 AM
  #40  
 
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Dee,
Check the instructions that came with your phone. My phone picks up the roaming frequency automatically but I think some phones have to be switched. If you don't think you'll be using the phone that much, I would just go with T-Mobile's international roaming plan. That way it doesn't cost your son anything when he calls you. Obviously there's a break even point somewhere that you'll have to figure out. I'm not sure what you mean by "unlockable by me", but physically installing and removing the SIM card doesn't have anything to do with whether the phone is unlocked.
Patty is offline  

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