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Help! If I buy a unlocked cell phone and SIM card, what's next?

Help! If I buy a unlocked cell phone and SIM card, what's next?

Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:06 AM
  #1  
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Help! If I buy a unlocked cell phone and SIM card, what's next?

Okay, I've reading the posts about getting an unlocked cell phone and then buying a SIM card; but then do I still have to have a provider (ex. Verizon, AT & T)? And can it all transfer to each country I visit?
namaka is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:14 AM
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You will need to get a sim card for each country, as I understand. Certainly these sim cards can allow you to use "Roaming" but this is usually way to expensive.

In France you can get a sim card from NRJ. This company will keep your credits until it's used up completely. I think you have to use something each six months but it's going to keep your telephone number correct live.

In France, the NRJ sim card can be bought for 30 euros and this gives you a certain amount of credit for this card. You have to fill out some information and send this to NRJ. This will some address information, if i can remember.

NRJ uses the telephone system SFR, which is one of the three big telephone companies in France.

I guess that you can use the AT&T sim card but I'm not 100% sure how this will cost.

I hope that this is giving a bit more information.

Blackduff
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:15 AM
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If you buy a SIM card in any country, you get it from the provider. So, basically you show up with your phone, pop in the card, and you have service for that country. They are pre-paid, so as long as you have money, you have a provider, and even if you run out, you can receive calls.

This is good in most of Europe. I am not sure about everywhere else.

Claire
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:17 AM
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Thanks Blackduff for the information. I will only be in France for 5 days so I'm not sure if I would want to invest into getting one there. I will be in England for 12 days and Portugal for 11, so will probably look at getting cards for those countries.
namaka is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:19 AM
  #5  
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laclaire,
when you say provider, do you mean once I get to the country that I am visiting? excuse my lack of knowledge here! And if so, where will I find these places?
namaka is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:22 AM
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You have 2 options:
1. Sign up a contract with an American GSM Operator (assuming you are from good old USA). Make sure you have a roaming option. Your relation is always with the Operator proprietary of the SIM. You are in other networks only as guest.
advantage: you keep always the same number wherever you are, while you are roaming, the charge for calls made/received is added to your regular account.
disadvantage: cost per minute is usually expensive, you should be charged both for calls made and received. If you are in a foreigner country and you dial a telephone number that is next to you, you pay for two international calls, since the call is routed phisically to your home country and back to visiting country (trombone effect).
2. Buy a SIM card specific of the country you are.
advantage: less expensive calls, received calls always free, local calls are charged as local calls.
disadvantages: your telephone number changes according to the SIM inserted, if you buy the SIM on arrival, you don't know the number in advance, you are not charged in your telephone account, but usually using prepaid air time.
lobo_mau is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:26 AM
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Hi lobomau,
you are always so helpful with all my questions.Okay, so what you're saying is that I should buy a SIM card in each of the countries I will be visiting? Where will I go to get these;say in Lisbon? I found a unlocked phone on E-bay; so if I buy that and a SIM card, am I then ready to go?
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:29 AM
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Namaka
Before we give you too many instructions, can you verify that your telephone will work in Europe. The US telephones may or may not work over here.

Google Nokia and see what band they're selling. There are two bands used in Europe and the third one is using in the US. I can't remember which is sorted for each country.

If you can't figure this out, post your telephone's brand and model and I'll try to find the information.

Blackduff
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:31 AM
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Hi namaka. You could also buy a SIM card that you can use in multiple countries.
You know your phone number before you leave, the cost per minute varies with each country.
I have a SIM from RIIING that I purchased last year but have not been able to use mainly because we haven't been abroad since I bought it.
Now is a good time for me to review the papers I received with the card. I bought it on EBAY. It came with a little time and you can top it off with a Riing account.
Sher is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:32 AM
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Blackduff, I don't actually have one. I was looking at an unlocked phone on ebay to purchase. My regular cell phone is not unlocked.
namaka is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:34 AM
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P.S. There are phone stores all over Portugal and they are open all of the time.
I don't think any American carrier can compete with the inexpenxive prices of the country specific SIM cards, but I may be wrong.
Sher is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:36 AM
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Dear Namaka, I am not as mean as my name says
It depends on the usage you plan to do. If you plan to use your GSM number later in US and you don't plan to use very much while abroad (unless for occasional usage) it might be more convenient to sign up a contract with a US GSM operator.
If you don't foresee any further usage, or if you plan to use a lot the telephone while abroad, it is advantageous to buy a SIM from a local operator.
Before buying a telephone on ebay make sure it is unlocked and that it has at least one of the frequencies (900 MHz and/or 1800 MHz. It's beter that both are available. If none is available than your telephone is of no use outside US.
lobo_mau is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:37 AM
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First off, you might be able to unlock your cell phone and not have to buy another (assuming that it will work in Europe).

You can buy SIM cards at cell boutiques and department stores in Spain, Italy, France, and Holland (those are the once I have used). If you are at a boutique, it might just sell one provider (vodafone, for example) in which case, that is your carrier. At a department store, they will ask you to choose one, in which case, you pick the "best one" (ask how much calls cost and choose the cheapest).

The system is not at all like in the US. No contract needed. YOu don't pay incoming calls.

Claire
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Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:41 AM
  #14  
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Sher, did you just buy the SIM card on ebay or also the phone?

Lobomau, I do not think you are mean at all; I think you are extremely helpful and was glad to see your response. I am only planning to use it while abroad as I have a cell phone here that is not unlocked. So I will go with trying to get a multiple SIM card as Sher suggested. I will also make sure to check the frequencies before I purchase a phone from ebay. Thanks to everyone for your help!
namaka is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:43 AM
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I just thought of something.
If you buy a phone with the correct frequencies to use in Europe, you can take it with you and have it unlocked there.
I took my phone with me to Portugal, and went to a phone store to have it unlocked because I just didn't seem to be able to unlock it here. I am not saying you won't be able to, but I am a little challenged when it comes to things like that.
Anyway, the man at the store unlocked it and provided me with a SIM card (the one that gave me the best price per minute) for 25E. I felt it was worth it because I didn't have to deal with the unlocking. But people say it is easy...just not for me.
Sher is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 08:53 AM
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Thanks again Sher. I will look into whether my cell phone has the right frequencies and can be unlocked. If not, then I will again look to purchase one.
namaka is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 09:12 AM
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namanka. I bought the SIM from Ebay and the phone from www.mobalrental.com.
At the time they were having a $29 special but the phone is not unlocked.
They provide a SIM with the phone and it is tied into a Mobal account, which is a lot more expensive than the local SIM cards you can buy.

People here have bought this phone and unlocked it. But I didn't try. I used another phone my brother gave me from Austrailia. That is the one I took with me.

But this time I think we will take two phones and I am just going to have it unlocked there.
Sher is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 09:13 AM
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When I said mean I was joking around my screen name
I have 1 addicional information and 2 words of caution:
- I check the tariff plan from my operator, targeted to foreigner and occasional users. It is .21 euros/minute for telephones of the same operator, .47 euros/minute for other Portuguese telephones and .34 euros/minute for international (Europe and USA).
- SIM cards are not valid forever if you don't use them. make conservative refills because the operators usually makes them inactive, after a period of 2 or 3 months not beeing used. Unless you plan to return soon or to handle it to a 3rd party, avoid to have a lot of money remaining on the SIM card, because you are likely to lost that money.
- Together with the SIM there are always delivered 2 numbers, the PIN (4 digits) and the PUK (8 digits). PIN may be changed to make it easy to remember, but PUK can't. Make sure you keep these numbers in good order, because it's easy to make mistakes in a multi PIN situation.
lobo_mau is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 09:23 AM
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Just for a reference, when browsing ebay, compare with the local market, a brand new locked telephone costs 40 euros with a SIM and 5 euros of airtime. An unlocked one may cost about 50... 60 euros.
These are low end terminals with basic capabilities to receive/make calls and text messages. Terminals coming with a box of tricks, photo cameras, video cameras, access to internet, etc, etc, cost more than this.
lobo_mau is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2006, 09:23 AM
  #20  
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ok lobo mau; guess I'm a little slow today. Still tired from yesterday;Drove up to the mountains 1/2 way to Lake Tahoe to let the kids play in the snow. Played a little too hard myself! Anyways, I will take all the advice offered and do a little more research before I do anything else.
namaka is offline  

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