Phone plan for Paris


Oct 11th, 2013, 11:19 AM
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Phone plan for Paris

Hi everyone. We are leaving for Paris next week, and need to figure out what to do about a phone plan. We have 2 iPhones and AT&T unlimited data plan for home. We want to be in touch with another couple we'll be meeting mid-trip, and with each other while in Europe. We'd also like to have limited contact with family at home. We know we can use email at wifi hot spots, but how can we get limited phone, messaging and data (to look up maps, restaurants, etc.) when there's no wifi? What is the best way to go?
chicgeek is offline  
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Oct 11th, 2013, 11:24 AM
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You have to have unlocked GMS (quad-band) phones, first of all. Then you go to a Relay at the airport when you land or a Phone House store or Orange or Lebara or SFR store in town and buy a French SIM card. Replace your own SIM card with the French one and you're good to go.
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Oct 11th, 2013, 01:02 PM
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If you ask AT&T, they will unlock your phones for you.

Flyertalk thread on SIMs in France:
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Oct 11th, 2013, 02:26 PM
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Depending on how long you're planning os being in France, if less than a month, then I would simply go with AT&Ts international data roaming program. You can sign up for as low as $30 for 120 MB of data, which usually last me two weeks of daily use. If I go over the limit, they add another 120 MB and send me a message.

iPhones can message each other free of charge when in a WiFi zone (anywhere in the world), but calling back home will be expensive unless you use Skype or the AT&T app, "AT&T Call International", which can be used in a WiFi zone only. It's very inexpensive and you don't need to have any funds in an account, like with Skype. It's billed directed to your credit card once you've installed the app and set up the account.

T-Mobile just announced what appears to be the best service for international roaming; free data and messaging, plus international and local calling at $0.20/minute. There are some limits, but if you're not going to be traveling and using the service for several weeks at a time, it looks good. I have to check into it a little more, but we'll probably be changing over on 20 October when the service becomes available.
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Oct 11th, 2013, 04:02 PM
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Thanks everyone! My husband is handling this, and he said "Wow! Your Fodor's friends are sure helpful!" Yes, I know! We will be in Paris for 10 days, so my husband is still trying to figure out which option is best. Any other suggestions for your favorite things to do in Paris will be appreciated, too. We have been there twice before, so have done most of the "normal" sight-seeing. This time we want to just soak it up in a more relaxed fashion. I even have considered getting a haircut there as a souvenir, but am starting to chicken out of that idea!
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Oct 11th, 2013, 06:33 PM
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Here's another endorsement for the new AT&T Call International app. I downloaded it to our Android phones prior to our European jaunt in July and used it (when WiFi connected) multiple times with great result. We also used the basic 120MB data allowance - was plenty for me but not enough for my 'must post to facebook as soon as I take the picture" SO, resulting in additional data charge for his phone.
If you travel to Paris only infrequently then the easiest course may well be the AT&T plan. Data is the real cost killer whether using your home carrier or a local SIM. Fortunately, WiFi is widely available in Paris!
Seamus is offline  
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Oct 11th, 2013, 07:09 PM
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this is very helpful to me too...thanks for all the suggestions...we too will be in france in a few months time and i havent ever bothered with a foreign sim card but will this time

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Oct 12th, 2013, 03:37 AM
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T-Mobile now offers an international plan for people with US contracts that is nothing short of a game changer. Lifted from Flyertalk:

T-Mobile tonight announced that it’s expanding the home data coverage for most Simple Choice customers to include more than 100 countries, at no extra charge. Starting October 31, these Simple Choice individual and business customers automatically get unlimited data and texting in more than 100 Simple Global countries worldwide, and will only pay a global flat rate of 20 cents per minute for voice calls when roaming in the same countries. Eligible customers on T-Mobile’s popular Simple Choice plan won’t have to activate anything, or pay an extra monthly fee.

The caveats are: the speed is 128kb/s (which is fast enough to run Google Earth); no tethering, not for extended international use; you must reside in the U.S. and primary usage must occur on our U.S. network; device must register on T-Mobile's U.S. network before international use; service may be terminated or restricted for excessive roaming or misuse.

All that being said, T-Mobile will be selling FULL SPEED international roaming packs (whatever the foreign network is capable of either HSPA+21 or HSPA+42 dual carrier, no LTE roaming at this time). Most expensive is $50 for 500MB of international data roaming FULL SPEED for 2 weeks. This is cheaper than Verizon ($25 every 100MB) or AT&T ($60 for 300MB). There is also a slightly cheaper and more data allowance plan restricted to just Canada/Mexico (cross border fiber that is cheaper to deliver versus undersea).

Even with its perceived shortcomings, it blows the other guys' plans out of the water.
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Oct 12th, 2013, 05:22 PM
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If you are in Paris for 10 days, stop by Phonehouse, with outlets all over the city, and ask about a French SIM such as Lycamobile or Lebara. These cost about 5€ each, calls to (and from) other phones of the same company are free; calls to the USA are either o.01€ per minute (Lycamobile) or 0.05€ per minute (Lebara). With French SIMs, all inbound calls are free.

These SIMs come with 3G data included.
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