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Sim cards in Fance

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Jul 18th, 2015, 08:50 AM
  #1
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Sim cards in Fance

Lebara sim cards look like the way to go. Do they allow data use?

We have iPhone 5s (ATT) and Samsung G4 (Verizon).

Appartments want a contact number, but is it possible to know that prior to departure?

Thanks a million, wonderful Fodorites!
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Jul 18th, 2015, 10:05 AM
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Get a Google Voice account, which gives you a US phone number (free). Then install Google Hangouts on one/both of the phones. That will let you use that number in France to make or receive calls. Receiving calls will be be free; making them to the US would be free but costs a small amount per minute to call within France.

That would at least satisfy the need for a contact phone number you could access in France, even if it's not a local call for the apartment manager. You could use the phones without a French SIM card on WiFI with Google Hangouts.

(And you can setup forwarding from your US Verizon number to your Google number as well, if you want, so you can at least get messages in France if you aren't on WiFi.)

Otherwise, I'd just buy a local SIM when you get to France. Then email the apartment owner saying you have a new French phone number in addition to the US number you gave them earlier.
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Jul 20th, 2015, 06:01 PM
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Thank you, Andrew! This is great to know.
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Jul 20th, 2015, 07:08 PM
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Andrew, isn't it more true to say that google voice lets you make calls for free as long as you have a wifi connection? or am I missing something? I mean, in that sense its the same as skype? Sure, the phone number thing might be convenient.

but if you want to use a cellular connection don't you still need either a local sim, or an international plan? or am I missing something here?

(and I actually went to google's help pages for google voice, and damn I couldn't find the answers to any of my questions. Completely useless. Maybe there is more info in their videos, but I doubt it, and who wants to watch a video ti get a simple question answered????)
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Jul 20th, 2015, 07:17 PM
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by the way...is your AST&T iphone unlocked? They don't come that way, though AT&T will unlock them under the right circumstances. Just want to make sure you are aware that it needs to be done. The requirements aren't very onerous, just the phone has to be no longer under contract. Check here:

https://www.att.com/deviceunlock/?#/
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Jul 20th, 2015, 07:24 PM
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china_cat: Andrew, isn't it more true to say that google voice lets you make calls for free as long as you have a wifi connection? or am I missing something? I mean, in that sense its the same as skype? Sure, the phone number thing might be convenient.

Google Hangouts needs an internet connection to make/receive calls. WiFi is not a special type of internet connection - just another way. Mobile data via a SIM card is another way. Obviously, when you are not using WiFi, you are using up your data on the SIM card. If you don't have a SIM card that works in Europe, then yes, you'd need to use WiFi.

But getting a local SIM card with data is pretty easy nowadays if you have an unlocked smart phone. Some people would be OK using their phone only on WiFi here and there; others will want to buy a SIM card to use it everywhere. Google Voice does give you free voicemail as well.

What type of Google Voice questions do you have?
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Jul 20th, 2015, 10:55 PM
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I don't see the utility of the free US phone number when traveling in France. Apart from that, Skype offers all that Google Voice offers, and more.
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Jul 20th, 2015, 11:49 PM
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I just wanted to understand that it is simply a network app, and not some other kind of service that I was unaware of. The first line of your post said google voice is free...but that isn't really true if you are using cellular data which costs money.

In fact, generally cellular data is more expensive than making a voice call. Well, I think it is, although it's hard to tell without knowing how much data a short google voice call would use. That would be useful info for people trying to figure out which Plan they need. Something that it would be nice to find on the google help pages.
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Jul 21st, 2015, 08:16 AM
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bvlenci: I don't see the utility of the free US phone number when traveling in France.

Some people like being able to make and receive free phone calls home while traveling, without needing to buy a local SIM card.

And if you buy a local SIM, you'd have a local phone number too.

Apart from that, Skype offers all that Google Voice offers, and more.

But not with a free phone number / free calling home.
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Jul 21st, 2015, 08:30 AM
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china_cat: I just wanted to understand that it is simply a network app, and not some other kind of service that I was unaware of.

Google Voice IS a service, not just a network app. I have had Google Voice for years without a smart phone. I have used it as my main phone number. Even people without a cell phone can use it in conjunction with their computer to make phone calls. If you have a landline, you can make free long distance calls with Google Voice, for example (not that that seems so useful anymore, but at one point it was).

Google Hangouts is something used in conjunction with Google Voice, and it is an app on your phone.

The first line of your post said google voice is free...but that isn't really true if you are using cellular data which costs money.

Anything you do on your phone costs money if you are using cellular data. Reading your Hotmail or Yahoo email isn't "free" then, either, when using data. But all of it is free when using free WiFi.

In fact, generally cellular data is more expensive than making a voice call. Well, I think it is, although it's hard to tell without knowing how much data a short google voice call would use. That would be useful info for people trying to figure out which Plan they need. Something that it would be nice to find on the google help pages.

Making a VOIP call with audio will use a lot less data than, say, watching a YouTube video. I'm not sure you can find out this info - how much data it generally consumes - for anything you do with your phone, though. Some things use more data than others. I don't think it's unreasonable that Google doesn't provide this information for Google Voice.

Making long calls with Google Voice or watching YouTube videos will generally use up your data, though. I think most people realize they should try to use WIFi when they can or risk using up their data. It is probably important for phone users to realize that a Google Voice call uses data, though, unlike a regular call.
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Jul 21st, 2015, 02:28 PM
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I must be missing something. I have a US phone number through Skype, not free, but pretty cheap. It's for people in the US to call me when I'm in Europe, not for me to call the US.

By the way, those of us who live in Europe can't use Google Voice.
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Jul 21st, 2015, 02:39 PM
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bvlenci: I must be missing something. I have a US phone number through Skype, not free, but pretty cheap.

I have a Skype number too but probably not for much longer. $18/3 months or $60/year. That's only to receive calls - there's extra cost to make them.

Google is free, to call or to receive calls to/from the US.

It's for people in the US to call me when I'm in Europe, not for me to call the US.

By the way, those of us who live in Europe can't use Google Voice.


Right, but this thread (like most threads in the Europe forum about phones and SIM cards) was presumably from someone visiting France, not moving or living there. I did assume the OP was from North America, but if not, the OP would not be able to get a Google Voice number.
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Jul 23rd, 2015, 04:22 PM
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I get the Skype number for half price because I also have a subscription for unlimited calls to the US.

Isn't the Google Voice number also just for people to call you?
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Jul 23rd, 2015, 04:49 PM
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bvlenci: I get the Skype number for half price because I also have a subscription for unlimited calls to the US.

Nice to know. I don't need Skype for calling out very often - it's been cheaper in the past for me to buy Skype credit for occasional calls out. But I'll probably be dumping my Skype number after my current subscription runs out.

Isn't the Google Voice number also just for people to call you?

No, you can call out with it as well. I do all of my calling now with Google Voice in the US on my phone.

There are two different Google apps that work with Google Voice: an app called "Google Voice" that uses regular voice minutes (not data or WiFi)...but works only in the US (or maybe Canada too). And an app called "Google Hangouts" that works anywhere (not just North America) but uses data or WiFI to make/receive calls, like Skype does.

With either one, you can call to US/Canada for free but buy credit (like Skype) to make cents-per-minute international calls. If you are in France with Google Hangouts, you can call the US for free, but to call your French hotel across the street you need to pay per-minute like you had a US Skype number. Of course, if you buy a French SIM, you can use that to make the local call but use Google Hangouts to call/get calls from the US for free.
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Jul 25th, 2015, 03:18 PM
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WOW Andrew! Thank you, I am learning so much from your posts! My Android is still under contract for 2 more months. I hope then to get Verizon to unlock it. In fact, a call to customer service is in order right now!

The iPhone is unlocked, have ordered a sim, and am delighted to know the sim can include data.

Fodorite heyskippy (great post for trip planning!) used data on his iPad for maps while driving. It would be nice for finding a spot to eat en route, too. We will be gypsies driving in southern France this fall--much more driving than we have done previously in Europe.

Your advice has been so helpful!!
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Jul 25th, 2015, 03:51 PM
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With T-Mobile you don't need to buy another sim card when traveling. Data is included at no additional cost. You can also use WhatsApp for messaging.
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Jul 25th, 2015, 03:58 PM
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I just dropped T-Mobile after years of service. I'm now paying $30/month (total - no taxes or fees) with GoSmart Mobile (owned by T-Mobile actually) for unlimited talk and text and 1GB of 3G data (then unlimited 2G). I don't think I've ever used 1GB of data per month, so that will be plenty for me. "3G" is a little slow, but for what I use it for, so far it's been fine.

I'm going to save at least $20/month vs. T-Mobile's "Simple Choice" plan. For the month I travel in Europe once a year, I'm happy to buy a SIM or two as needed for data + local phone number and still use Google for calls home. I had to do this in Montenegro and Bosnia anyway on my recent trip, because T-Mobile's roaming doesn't include those countries.
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