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SIM card

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I know very little about SIM cards. I would like to get one while we are in England for 18 days. Do I keep the same phone no.? About how much are they?

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    At this time we do not have a US phone that takes a sim card. A long time ago we purchased an international phone and use Go Sim sim card. The things we like about are that we can have an 800 number with it in case our daughter needs to call us from her cell or if we need to call a doctor, that the time never runs out and if we have $25 on it when we leave Europe, it will be there the next time we travel. A lot expire. It automatically recharges at $25 when we run low. My daughter used it in Haiti. If you go to their website they list where they have service. We have never had a problem with it. We travel to Europe a couple of times a year and have been using it for quite a while.

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    I have an unlocked (Samsung??) phone that I purchased on line. I use it in both Europe and Thailand. In Europe I am with Swisscom, since we always start and end in Zurich, and I can easily visit their shop at the ZRH airport to add more time to my phone. I have had the same number for about 3-4 years now. I also go to Europe twice a year, this year 3 times.

    The same phone, with different SIM card, is useable in Thailand. I am with DTAC. I've had the same number there for a number of years as well. I am in Thailand 4-5 times a year.

    It is nice having the same number all the time. My friends in Europe and Thailand can easily get in touch with me, and vice versa.

    I'm not sure what services are available in the UK, but I do use Swisscom in Germany, Netherlands, Italy, France, as well as Switzerland.

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    joy, since you say you know very little, here are some basics:
    -the SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card identifies the phone number and network on which the device operates
    -not all phones have / use a SIM card, only those that use GSM technology. The other technology, CDMA, is used by Sprint and Verizon for most (but not all) of their phones.
    -in addition to GSM technology the phone must operate on the frequency used in the place(s) you will be traveling. A quad band phone operates on the four most common frequencies and should be OK in most countries around the world.
    - when a phone is "locked" to a network it will only work with a SIM for the network to which it is locked. In the US the majority are locked for use only on the network of the provider from which they were purchased. In order to use a SIM from another provider it is necessary to have the phone unlocked. Some providers will unlock a phone for you after you have been a customer in good standing for a certain number of months. Alternatively, there are plenty of places that will unlock phones for a small fee (just google "cell phone unlocking" in your city.) You can also buy an unlocked phone, with eBay a common place to do so.
    -when you get anew SIM you get a new phone number. If you get a SIM from a UK provider you will have a UK phone number. In order to call you people would need to dial a UK phone number. To call people in the US you would be making an international call.
    -it is quite simple to pick up a local SIM in most European cities. In London Car Phone Warehouse and Phones4U are chains with locations all over the place, and staff can help you select and install your SIM. What you want is a pay as you go SIM, and not a contract. Compare the rates for calls you are most likely to be making and choose accordingly. One nice thing is that in Europe most incoming calls are free.

    Hope that helps!

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    Most of the basics have been covered. Just a few things to add. For Americans, British sim cards are very easy as English and American are very closely related languages and you should be able to understand what is said to you by locals.

    If you're coming in from Gatwicdk, as an example, you will find yourself accosted by people trying to push lebara UK cards. They are free but require a £10 top up. But lebara has very low rates, I believe 4p/minute but it might have gone up to call the USA and has competitive raqtes to call within the UK and within the eu.

    Right now today my personal favorite sim card is from T Mobile UK. They have had a relationship with another outfit called Yourcallworld ( whereby you can call the USA for 3p/minute (I don't know how familiar you are with UK currency but the pound is broken into 100 pence so 3p means 3 pence). Rates within the UK are competitive and while at one time T Mobile UK had sketchy coverage, today you can use Orange UK towers with a T Mobile sim card as they are in the process of merging (all this was true when last I w2as in the UK in July so you might have to check but I think it's still pretty much current). UK sim cards are easy to top up. The T Mobile sim card comes with a top up card that looks like a credit card. Go into most any petrol station, chemist shoppe, convenience store, present the card and ask for a £5 top up and they'll do the rest.

    The only other point and we'll leave it at that. Receiving calls while you are in the UK will be free. People who call you from the USA will pay a bit of a surcharge; they have to check with their ld carriers or mob ile phone providers for the rates to UK mobiles. You can also use a firm called localphone ( to purchase a US number in any area code for a couple of bucks that you can program to ring to your British cell phone at very advantageous rates and give whomever you want this numnber of you can set up call forwarding from your home phone so there are lots of solutions. It's not a problem nor is it brain surgery.

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