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Cell phone while in Scotland

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Jun 29th, 2009, 12:51 PM
  #1
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Cell phone while in Scotland

We will be spending 10 days in Scotland next month and wondering if we should bother with cell phone service. Our carrier is Verizon and they do not offer the service. Any thoughts on an "inexpensive" way to have cell phone service or just simply email from one b&b to the next on our agenda. Thank you so much.
denise3233 is offline  
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Jun 29th, 2009, 01:25 PM
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cellphone or e-mail are not your only options. You can buy a £5 phone card that you can use w/ almost any phone (pay, or in a B&B or anywhere) that will more than cover what you need to phone in Scotland AND to phone home if you want. just pennies a minute.

or - You can buy a cheap pay-as-you-go cell phone lots of places. But coverage in some rural areas is spotty to nonexistent. So it partly depends on where you are going.

Having a cell is really handy, but if it was me - I'd just get a phone card.
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Jun 29th, 2009, 01:31 PM
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Are you renting a car? If so it's a good idea to have a cell phone, in case you have a problem with it.

We have verizon too. They are such a pain when you are out of the country...depending on where in Scotland you are starting your trip, the easiest thing is to pick up a cheap phone and sim card, we got ours at TMobile on Princes Street in Edinburgh, £10 for phone and £5 to "top up" the phone with minutes.
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Jun 29th, 2009, 01:41 PM
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LAwoman did the phone you rented work in places like the Highlands, Skye, Mull etc...?
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Jun 29th, 2009, 02:00 PM
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kp, can't tell you from personal experience because we were only in Edinburgh this last trip, but perhaps a Scottish fodorite can fill you in, also here is a link on their site where you can enter an address and they will show if there is coverage or not

http://www.t-mobile.co.uk/services/c.../street-check/
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Jun 29th, 2009, 02:49 PM
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Mobile phone (never called cell phone in UK) coverage in the Highlands (and Islands) is spotty to say the least. You are ok in cities and towns, and usually along major routes (most A-roads), but going off it, you will soon begin to lose signal. Some networks have better coverage than others. Orange is probably the best, closely followed by O2 and Vodafone. T-Mobile, and the 3 have poor coverage outside of population centres. You can go to the website of each network and zoom in on local coverage, by entering postcode. Also coverage depends on what sort of phone you have and what you want to use it for. 2G coverage for basic speech and texting is a lot more extensive than 3G or 3.5G coverage for high-speed internet. Expect the latter two to be unavailable in the Highlands, outside of cities like Inverness.
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Jun 29th, 2009, 03:03 PM
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Kpilling, I'm sure that LAwoman didn't rent her phone, she would have actually bought one for that price.
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Jun 29th, 2009, 03:07 PM
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bought or rented isn't the issue -- it is coverage. Whether a mobile phone makes sense partly depends on WHERE the OP is going and we don't know that yet . . . .
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Jun 29th, 2009, 03:17 PM
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Yes, if OP will be in the Highlands doesn't sound like TMobile is a good choice, but if it helps anyone else I did buy the phone with £5 calling time for £15 and it's actually a pretty good phone. There's several different Mobile phone shops within a block or 2 of eachother on Princes St.
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Jun 29th, 2009, 03:42 PM
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It's a while since I checked but Vodaphone have traditionally had the best coverage in the middle of no-where.
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Jul 1st, 2009, 12:40 PM
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Don't understand the need for one unless your business calls for it. I have been to Britain many times and never had a cell/mobile phone. Guess we old people can do without or use the land phones that work very well with a phone card.
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Jul 2nd, 2009, 03:04 PM
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I picked up an Orange phone for 5 quid. Had to purchase a 20 quid SIM card. I'm sure I have more than half of that left on it. Calls to the US on the dolphin pay as you go plan was 6 p. a minute.

Orange worked great in Edinburgh and Glasgow but was no use on the beaches of Fife.
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Jul 2nd, 2009, 04:02 PM
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Time marches on, technology moves ahead and competition leads to bargains. Mobile phones in the UK, today, are one of the biggest bargains around.

The major mobile phone operators in the UK are in such competition that they are literally giving away sim cards for free. Since every 10 year old kid in this day and age walks around with a mobile phone, public phones are becoming fewer and fewer. While I agree with Janisj that phone cards in the past have been good value, and remain so to a degree today, what good does it do to have a phone card if there is no phone handy to use it???? And if you're on a driving holiday and the car breaks down, you are much more likely to have mobile phone service available than to find a public phone to summon aid.

As noted, you can get free British sim cards sent to your first hotel anywhere in the country. You can easily get free British sim cards (a top up is required but you need one anyway) at most any mobile phone store along with cheap basic but very adequate 2g gsm phones. Or you may already have one if your current carrier is gsm and your phone has the 900 and 1800 mhz. bands; perhaps an old phone that you upgraded. Call your phone company (T Mobile USA for example will unlock the phones they sell for free after a 3 month period)...

The competition is so great that international calls on mobiles have become almost as inexpensive as on a phone card. It is not uncommon, as a matter of fact it is very common, to be able to call internationally using a British sim card while anywhere in Britain for as little as 4p/minute. Them's phone card rates and much less hassle than a phone card.

And for a family travelling together, it's no big deal to get two or three sim cards so you can go off and do your own thing and be able to re-establish contact.

I know, my parents are like this too, some older people (trying not to make it a generation thing but to some degree it is) have the attitude who needs one. I've gotten along without one for x number of years. But once you understand how simple it is, especially throughout Great Britain, and how cheap it is (you sure as hell can't beat free), you won't get caught without one (wasn't there some tv commericial that used that line years ago? Didn't a famous actor who just died use that line in the commercial?_

For the time being, vodafone might be the best choice as they until 31 August have a promotion on with no roaming fees in Europe. That means if you leave Britain and spend a weekend in Ireland, you will not pay to receive calls, and calls to both Irish and British numbers will be at their home rate of 20p/minute (Unfortunately you can't carry with you to Ireland the dirt cheap rate of 5p/minute to the USA, Canada and Australia)...

Sorry guys...on this one it ain't brain surgery nor is there a language problem nor is there any degree of inconvenience. Mobile phones, at least in Great Britain, are the way to go.

JMHO (and I am so immodest!)
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Jul 2nd, 2009, 04:32 PM
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Great to have free mobile phone and cheap calling rates, but becomes a paperweight if you don't get any signal, which happens a lot in remote areas like Scottish Highlands. If you look at the coverage map of any UK network, there is a vast white area (no coverage) over Highlands and Islands.

To get free roaming on Vodafone, you first have to text PASSPORT to 2345 BEFORE leaving UK - otherwise you will be charged the normal roaming fee and there's no way to opt into Vodafone Passport once you leave UK (needs SIM update). It isn't included by default.
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Jul 2nd, 2009, 04:37 PM
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"on this one it ain't brain surgery nor is there a language problem nor is there any degree of inconvenience. Mobile phones, at least in Great Britain, are the way to go."

Not necessarily. If you stick to population centres or the Lowlands - sure. But parts of rural Scotland is a whole 'nuther world . . . . .
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Jul 2nd, 2009, 05:07 PM
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Alec and janisj...

I often drive between New York City and Montreal....I zoon straight up Interstate 87....there are vast areas along Interstate 87 where there is no cell service....does that mean I don't take a cell phone with me??

My point, and I apologize if I wasn't clear, is that given what is going on in the UK right now with cell phones, they are easy to obtain and use in many, perhaps most, areas of the UK but will grant you there are areas of no mobile service but does that mean you shouldn't, given the prices and convenience, have a mobile?
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Jul 4th, 2009, 09:31 AM
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It may come as a surprise that I manage very well without one when I travel. Of course I have no need of other forms of electronic amusement.
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Jul 5th, 2009, 02:50 AM
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Roger, nothing you do would surprise any of us!
sheila is offline  
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Jul 8th, 2009, 07:04 AM
  #19
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Many thanks to everyone for their opinions!! Really appreciate them.
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