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France Telecom - 2 questions re: cell phone use

France Telecom - 2 questions re: cell phone use

Old Feb 24th, 2005, 03:24 PM
  #1  
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France Telecom - 2 questions re: cell phone use

1. Can a dual band phone acquired at an Orange store in France with purchase of the standard minutes chip be used to call the United States?

2. Can this dual band phone be used in other European countries (such as Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Spain)?

My concern is that buying a dual band phone in France with the accompanying purchase of a certain amount of usage minutes will probably not work in other countries since the sim chip is only for France Telecom. If it does work in other countries, than would that not be roaming, and how in the heck would the few cents per minute I purchased be utilized? Also for calling back to the United STates, whether from France or another European Country? I have not seen this question on other postings.
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 04:43 PM
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Yes you can call the US. Yes you can use it in other countries but you need to ask them to enable the "orange sans frontiere" option which is free. You would be charged roaming fees so your few cents a minute would be burned up faster.
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 08:34 PM
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Thank you for the responses.
I guess my only issue in buying a phone over there instead of taking my own using expensive Cingular is that a call could be interrupted due to using up the minutes on the card that I had purchased. Also, when roaming or calling the U.S. I may not know how much it would cost and how quick the minutes would be used up.
Summary: With a contract carrier such as T-Mobile or Cingular, one can count on their calls continuing as it is not controlled by the number of minutes one has left on their purchased card.
That would seem to be the only benefit other than keeping your previous phone number in the states, which does not matter to me, possibly does for others.
Quad phones appear to be expensive right now. I have to decide whether to purchase two of them or stay with the two I have (American dual bands) and purchase two phones in France from Orange/France Telecom. The second choice seems easy, but the lack of an account also seems to leave me a bit cold. The savings is obvious however.
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Old Feb 25th, 2005, 01:11 AM
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Here's the deal on this....

The big obvious advantage of the local French sim pack is that receiving calls and this is important, while in France, is free even if your credit has run out. The number remains yours for 6 months after the time expiration of credit to receive calls again while in France.

Yes you can call the US with the French sim card but it is expensive, not all that much cheaper than T mobile US roaming (which is 50 cents US a minute cheaper than Cingular). The alternatives are to buy a local calling card (or bring one) and call the French triggering number and pay French rates and access their network via the pin etc. Or you can use a call back service such as callbackworld.com. How that works is they give you a US number and you ring that number and hear the phone ring. After a ring or two you hang up. Since the call has not been completed no charge....you then are automatically called back on your mobile with the French sim. As you are receiving no charge to you on that end. The computer says please enter the number you are calling so you dial the number you are calling and are connected and pay okay rates in the vicinity of 30 to 40 cents/minute US. Sounds complicated but once you get the hang of it you will appreciate the savings.

Now once you leave the country of origin, you are now roaming and it is a brand new ball game so to speak. As I said at the top, you will then be paying the same or more believe it or not than what is charged by Cingular and/or T mobile with the inherent problem you pointed out of running out of time and credit (very quickly); you also pay to receive calls once you leave France. Of course, nothing would keep you, if your stay in the other country is for at least a week, from buying a prepaid sim in that country which is the inherent beauty of GSM, change the sim card and the phone has a whole new identity.

The other question is the frequency question. Folks who use Cingular and/or AT&T Wireless GSM are at a disadvantage (perhaps not a big one) as since AT&T and Cingular use 2 frequencies in the US (850 and 1900), the tri band phones they sell have only one of the 2 European frequencies (900 and 1800) so you're missing one of the European frequencies. Have to be careful to check with the local carrier if they use the frequency your phone has. T mobile on the other hand only uses 1900 in the US (isn't it great how the US has continued not to embrace globalization for trivial items such as temperatures, the metric system and GSM phone frequencies) so tri band phones they sell have both 900 and 1800.....world dual band phones readilly available at web merchants and on e bay have both 8\900 and 1800 (be careful some idiot doesn't sell you a US dual band phone which may have 850 and 1900 or 900 and 1900 etc.)....whether you use a local sim or roam on your US carrier, the phone must have the proper frequencies.

Quad band phones are basically only made by Motorola and have not had good write ups. Myself, and it's a personal thing, am most disposed towards Nokia phones as their sound quality is good, their ability to hold onto mobile signals is best and they can easily be unlocked.....

I think that covers the questions. If you need more correct information, please holler....
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Old Feb 25th, 2005, 01:22 AM
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One other quicky in this discussion...The EU is now pushing the companies about the obscenely high roaming rates and there is a great deal of chatter that a major breakthrough is coming.

However there is a brand new service called Riiing. They are selling a sim card for around €40 with €15 worth of credit. The bad news, you have to go to ebay to get the sim card or a web site called www.riiing.ch which unfortunately is only in Italian or you can access a forum on prepaidgsm.net where somebody is selling the cards for around US$42 plus a small shipping fee.

Why is Riiing good...the answer is that you get a number in Liechtenstein (country code 423) and throughout all of Western Europe including countries such as Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, there are no roaming costs. Receiving calls is free throughout Western and Central Europe (as always this ends when you cross into Russia). It works as I just came back from Europe. They charge €0,39/minute to call out from Europe but add on a set up fee of €0,25 for each call so short calls are scarcely cheaper than T mobile US roaming fees. But....

If you use callbackworld.com as noted above aha well.....you see Liechtenstein has an odd set up. Unlike the other countries in Europe, calling a mobile phone in Liechtenstein does not carry a huge surcharge...as a matter of fact the AT&T surcharge for calls to Liechtenstein mobiles is 1 cent/minute (that's right one cent/minute) and callback world only charged me 14 cents/minute to use their service.

The day of liberation from obscenely high roaming rates, at least in Europe, is coming...
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Old Feb 25th, 2005, 02:34 AM
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I have a quadband Motorola V600. It should cost around 300 euros, including the bluetooth headset. It's expensive for occasional use, but ok for me since I use it every day.
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Old Feb 25th, 2005, 06:59 AM
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Hello, I would like to jump in and ask a question too. I will be driving aone for a week in France and think I want a cell phone this time. I have never done it because it seemed complicated beyond doing for me. However, I mostly travel in France and the one at the Orange store for use in France seems like the thing for me.
How much is a cheap basic phone with the standard minutes chip? I would be able to buy a phone card, access the toll free french number and call home with no problem?
Thanks for your replies.

gg
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Old Feb 25th, 2005, 08:22 AM
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You can get basic dual band phones either in France or before. Many on this board have talked about www.mobal.com. The Nokia 2100 they offer for $49 is a solid dual band phone which will work fine in Europe and it's a doggone good price. The question os whether it is locked or unlocked but as you have read even if it is locked getting it unlocked is a snap. Or you can buy a dual band or tri band on e bay or wait till you get to France...$70 or $80 at most for a dual band a little more for a tri band.

Service pack runs about €30; two biggest French companies are Orange FR and SFR. There is another one whose name starts with a B which is not quite as good but okay.

Orange Fr in the starter kit includes one month of service (enough for your trip) and €10 worth of credit..if you run out of credit you got to any tabac and say, Avez-vous un recharge pour la mobilcarte (if Orange) pour dix (or vingt or trente) euro s'il vous plait? (Do you have a recharge for the mobilcarte for 10 (or 20 or 30) euro please...he will give you a slip with a 16 digit number. You dial 224 and then enter that number and press send voila you're recharged....

Tabacs also sell the long distance cards which require a call on the French domestic network (there are a couple of plans for mobilcartes) and almost unlimited calls to the US...
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Old Feb 25th, 2005, 08:32 AM
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Thank you xyz123. One more question, how would I use it on my next trips to France. I go a couple of times per year. Would I just take it back in and get another 30 day service, just add minutes or what?? I apologize for being completely in the dark. I have read so many postings but still did not get it.
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Old Feb 25th, 2005, 10:55 AM
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XYX123...thank you, thank you for your info and grasp of various complex issues surrounding cell phones in
Europe. I had not heard of the Liechenstein connection. It does seem that these outrageous rates can only come down due to competition.
Unfortunately, I have purchased two Motorola V600 phones now. I did read that Motorola gives lousy service.
Do T-Mobile triband cell phones also cover the 850 frequency in the U.S.? You see how uninformed I am. I do not understand access to the frequencies in the United States if one only has a triband that gives one 900/1800/1900.
Thanks again for you time and kindness in sharing your knowledge.
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Old Feb 25th, 2005, 10:58 AM
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lobo_mau...
I also have purchased the Motorola V600 cell phone. Have you experienced either bad service or a defective phone/signal yet? I assume that you may not yet have used it in Europe, only the States? Too bad that there are so few quad phones right now, I imagine that will change soon.
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Old Feb 25th, 2005, 11:22 AM
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wrong assumption. I use it only in Portugal where I live and occasionally in Spain. I have had no problems whatsoever. The problems you are experiencing are more likely due to poor network coverage than to the telephones themselves.
In the upper left screen of your V600 thee are some bars indicating the signal lenght. If less than 3 of them are shown, it means that the signal is poor and you can't blame your telephone.
Notice that Motorola is a big player in the GSM world.
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Old Feb 25th, 2005, 12:02 PM
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The consensus has been that motorola phones are not as good as nokia and/or sony ericsson. This is not my opinion necessarily as I do not own a Motorola phone but this is what is said on many mobile phone forums.

Motorola is currently the biggest player in the quad band sweepstakes. Neither Nokia nor Sony Ericsson nor Siemens have moved in that direction yet.

The problem, as with many things, lies with the refusal of the US to accept globalization although when the situation first arose nobody thought mobile phone technology would take off the way it did but it is a fact that for GSM coverage 99% of the civilized and uncivilized world uses frequencies of 900 and 1800 while the US (and Canada and some Latin American countries) use 850 and 1900. Japan, BTW, another big player in this does not use GSM at all but a completely different system but this is a European board.

Now for a long time, T mobile USA was the only US GSM provider and 100% of its network is on 1900. Cingular and AT&T Wireless were late to the GSM cause and started out using 1900 for very limited parts of their networks but for technological reasons have begun using the 850 frequency.

Thus when you buy a phone for use on Cingular and/or AT&T Wireless, you need a phone capable of using both 850 and 1900 and their networks use both frequencies. Thus they sort of forced the mobile phone manufacturers to make phones with both of these frequencies available. T mobile does not use 850, does not allow roaming on 850 (sometimes a mobile phone company instead of having service universally through the country allows its customers to roam on another network) and basically has no need or use for 850. So world phones made for Europeans and Asians for example sort of became tri bands when T mobile was the only GSM game in town and companies such as Nokia and Sony Ericsson about 3 or 4 years ago began manufacturing tri band phones with 900/1800/1900. These phones can be used by Europeans coming to the US as their networks have roaming agreements with T mobile USA and can be used by Americans travelling to Europe as they have both of the European frequencies.

Now when Cingular and AT&T began using 850, the companies didn't want to re invent the wheel. So, for example, Nokia has many models which are made for the world and the same model for the US market with the same model number. For example, the Nokia 3100 comes in 2 varieties, one for the world with 900/1800/1900 and one for Americ with 850/1800/1900 (technically called the 3100B but nobody notices). Sony Ericsson, OTOH, gives the same phone different model numbers depending on whether it is for the world or for the US. Example the T610 is a world phone (900/1800/1900) while the T616 is almost the same identical phone except for the US (850/1800/1900).

The difficulty comes in when you wish to use your phone to roam outside your home area. T mobile customers who use their T mobile phones around the world have no problems as they will have both 900 and 1800. AT&T and Cingular customers could have problems as some European carriers (a sizable number but by no means all) use either 900 or 1800 and so that restricts somewhat the carriers one can use with their tri band phones although for the most part the problems only exist in rural areas. Europeans coming to America similarly could be inconvenienced as their world phones will lack 850 and there are areas of the US where T mobile does not have service and they will be unable to roam on AT&T or Cingular in those areas that only use 850....

Now of course the US refuses to embrace globalization in important matters such as weights and measures and temperatures so why should they do so with a trivial thing such as GSM frequencies?j Ah the stupidity of it all.
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Old Feb 25th, 2005, 02:35 PM
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Your specifics are so good I have copied the info for future use.
Almost every concept I had questions about has been answered and I salute you, Dr. Tech for your knowledge and also willingness to share your info.

I still wonder if I got a T-Mobile triband with 900/1800/1900, like a Motorola V180 instead of the Motorola V600, if in the U.S. if I was in an area with only 850 service, would I be denied connection? You say that T-Mobile does not allow roaming on 850. I am filtering this info, but am not quite 100% sure that I understand the summation. If a company only uses 850 and that is the only thing available in the area I am frequenting, then will I not be allowed to connect/roam through this 850 frequency? Sorry for the blockage in my mind, but it is quite interesting to resolve these issues. Cell phones hopefully will improve through competition internationally soon.
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Old Feb 25th, 2005, 03:05 PM
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Actually I am not a genius..this is just stuff I pick up as I go along.

There are discussions about the pros and cons of 850 on an internesting forum called howardforums (www.howardforums.com) which is devoted to mobile phones and various carriers.

As I understand it, T mobile has no use for 850. As a matter of fact on the V600 it sells, it has deliberately disabled 850 (it can be fixed and overcome by experts much like flashing the phone)...sometimes a carrier has an agreement with other carriers in regions it doesn't have towers in to allow its subscribers to use its facilities. For example, T mobile might not have a big presence in North Carolina and might agree with some carrier that if a T mobile carrier is in North Carolina to allow its subscribers to use its facilities. This is domestic roaming. Purely and simply T mobile does not have any roaming agreements with any carriers which use 850 exclusively so in essence you would be unable to use T mobile phones in those areas.

T mobile's coverage in the US is very good but certainly not universal. It is very good along almost every interstate but not so in rural areas. All carriers have holes in their coverage and their advertising claims such and such a carrier has the best coverage of any; you've heard them.

Since most of my travelling is in big cities and T mobile is available in almost every big American city I know of, this is not a problem for me. It might be a problem for you.

I travel internationally quite a bit and it is very clear that for international travel, the t mobile set up is the best (although I use foreign sims almost excusively now that riiing is up and running)...there is also controversy that 850 coverage is superior to 1900 coverage in such things as penetrating the inside of buildings etc.

You have to do what's best for you overall. To me the lack of 850 on a US phone is less important than making sure my phone has both 900 and 1800 but that might not be what you need.

I hope I answered the question.
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Old Feb 25th, 2005, 11:33 PM
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xyz123, Again you answered with seminal info for me, to wit:
Did not know that the V600 sold by T-Mobile had the 850 disabled, so not really a quad band after all.
Did not know that the 850 might have structure penetrating power greater than other frequency bands.
Yes, you answered my questions thoroughly, and I thank you for saving me a lot of time and aggravation.
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Old Feb 27th, 2005, 07:21 AM
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You can call the US on cheap rates (4 to 5 euro cents a minute) on either a French landline or a French cell if you pre-buy air time on lesminutes.com via credit card. Then you only have to dial 3111 before your number. It's not advertising, it just happens to be the service I use, and it works flawlessly.
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