Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

What is a good International Cell Phone Company.

What is a good International Cell Phone Company.

Aug 22nd, 2011, 04:10 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 7
What is a good International Cell Phone Company.

I am going to Rome on business, and went to Sprint to check on roaming plans. They told me my phone will not work, and that their are International companies that sell phones to use overseas. I have never traveled internationally and I don't know anything about International cell phones After a lot of research I narrowed it down to 3. brightroam, onesimcard and ezroam. Can anyone recommend any of the following or know of any other alternatives? Thank you very much
rayjames is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2011, 04:52 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,522
Here's a different way to do this that will cost you less.
Buy an unlocked quad band GSM phone. Ebay and Kijiji are good sources. Retailers like TigerDirect.com also sell them online.

When you get to Italy pick up a Pay as you go SIM ... the TIM brand is often recommended. This route wil cost you less than the companies you mentioned.

In the past I have used http://www.callineurope.com and have been pleased. It's very convenient but there are cheaper ways to do it these days.

Se also http://www.prepaidgsm.net for SIM suppliers in Italy.
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2011, 04:53 PM
  #3  
J62
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 10,337
What kind of usage do you need, and how much? Incoming calls, outgoing calls, data, SMS?

I have a basic unlocked quad band GSM phone I bought on ebay a few years ago for <$20. When I go to Europe I buy a local SIM card for about 10 euros, sometimes with 10 euros call credit.

Since you are going to Italy the cheapest thing would be to get a similar unlocked phone on ebay, and buy a SIM card from TIM or another Italian cell phone co when you arrive in Rome. Incoming calls on cell phones are free to the user. The caller is charged a higher rate than calls placed to a land line.

If you need to have the phone # before you leave home then you'd need to get a phone and SIM card before you depart.
J62 is online now  
Aug 22nd, 2011, 04:54 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 1,228
My brother just back from Florence and Rome singing praises about Skypes--I don't know the correct spelling or details but he said it was wonderful and CHEAP...I think it is used with internet access.
traveler24 is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2011, 06:08 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 20,106
Yes, you can use Skype to make cheap calls from an internet device. You can even buy a US phone number with Skype, so people not using the internet can call your Skype number from their normal phone.

rayjames, here's one way to let people contact you in Rome by calling a US phone number, at no cost to them except US long distance (but a small per-minute cost to you for each minute they call):

- follow the instructions above, get an unlocked GSM phone and buy a prepaid SIM in Italy, probably from TIM (company, has stores like AT&T and T-Mobile have cell phone stores in the US).
- you'll have an Italian phone number then probably with free incoming calls.
- buy a US Skype phone number; first sign up for a free Skype account on their website, then buy the phone number ($18/3 months).
- setup forwarding in your Skype account to your Italian cell phone number - something like 2 cents to 6 cents per minute to you (you'll have to buy Skype credit in chunks of $10).
- give people your new US Skype phone number; when they call it, it will ring your Italian cell number.

If you want to make cheap calls BACK to the states with this setup, you'll need a laptop or smart phone or something on the internet, and you can use Skype. Throw a free Google Voice account into the max (gives you yet another phone number, though), and you can initiate free US calls from Italy; when you make a call with Google Voice it will first call YOU (call your Skype #, which will forward to your Italian cell, free incoming calls), then it will call the other person and connect you.

Oh, and finally, you can forward calls from your Sprint phone while you're in Rome to your Skype phone number as well, so you won't miss any calls at all. Then again, Sprint may have a per-minute forwarding charge, not sure.
Andrew is online now  
Aug 22nd, 2011, 07:42 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 576
Andrew

Amazing information. We have an Italian phone and number and I have been trying to figure all this out forever. You did a great job of explaining.
jnjfraz is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2011, 07:48 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 576
setup forwarding in your Skype account to your Italian cell phone number - something like 2 cents to 6 cents per minute to you (you'll have to buy Skype credit in chunks of $10).


Okay this is probably a very stupid question. Does it matter that my computer will be in Italy with me?
jnjfraz is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:14 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 20,106
jnjfraz: Okay this is probably a very stupid question. Does it matter that my computer will be in Italy with me?

You need to login to your Skype account at some point to setup the forwarding to your Italian cell number, plus you will need to buy Skype credit ($10 blocks I think) to deduct the per-minute charges (you can tell it to auto-reload your credit from a credit card I think). You can login to your Skype account from any computer on the internet, just using a web browser. You're doing this without actually making a Skype call - so you don't need a webcam or microphone. You don't use the Skype program itself to buy the phone number or set the forwarding, you do it by logging in to your Skype account itself on the web.

No one particular computer is tied to your Skype account. You probably could set this up at home but of course you won't (I assume) have an Italian phone number yet. You could bring a computer with you or use someone else's to login via the web to your Skype account and set everything up.
Andrew is online now  
Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:18 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 20,106
And as I said, if you WILL have a computer with you, consider throwing Google Voice into the mix, because that will allow you to make OUTGOING calls to the US for cheap; set your Google Voice account (free) to forward to your Skype phone, which forwards to your Italian phone (free incoming calls, per-minute charge from Skype for forwarding). You'll have to have the computer or perhaps a smart phone with you to initiate the call, but Google Voice will call YOU and then THEM and connect you, so free incoming calls still applies.
Andrew is online now  
Aug 23rd, 2011, 06:42 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 88
We got a phone from onesimcard for our trip to Bavaria, Austria, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland in June. It never worked. I asked for a refund or some sort of adjustment. That was 6 weeks ago and I haven't heard a thing back from them other than that they are looking into it. I'll let you know if anything ever comes of my request.
PaulHahn is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2011, 07:05 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 273
Bookmarking for future trips
nwtraveler is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2011, 07:21 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 576
You probably could set this up at home but of course you won't (I assume) have an Italian phone number yet.

I have my phone with me and have had the same Italian number for a few years. I'll try this a couple of weeks before we leave.
jnjfraz is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2011, 08:24 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 58
I bought an unlocked GSM phone dual band 850/1900 mHz on Amazon. So this won't work in Italy with an Italian SIM card? Multiple reviewers for the phone said this model worked for them in Europe but it sounds like I was led astray.
nnancy is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2011, 08:38 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 47,402
<>

No, it will only work with North American (and, I believe, Australia and Brazil) TDMA and CDMA phones.
StCirq is online now  
Aug 23rd, 2011, 08:41 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 20,106
900MHZ and 1800MHZ are the primary GSM frequencies used in Europe, so no, 850/1900 isn't going to work over there.
Andrew is online now  
Aug 23rd, 2011, 09:55 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 7
Thanks everyone I decided on ezroam.com they had the cheapest rates and rentals out of the group only 19 dollars to rent the phone.Some of the other companies wanted to charge me like 40 bucks for the rental.

Do International phones work the same way as a US phone? Can I expect the same clarity and coverage?
rayjames is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2011, 10:51 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 47,402
European phones work just as well as, if not better than, US phones. After all, most Europeans had a cell phone long before Americans did.
StCirq is online now  
Aug 23rd, 2011, 02:10 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 576
Well, if you are in some remote rentals then you will have spotty coverage. Just as you would in remote places in America.
jnjfraz is offline  
Aug 24th, 2011, 08:50 PM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 7
Yeah that's true I did not even think about the fact they have had mobiles much longer than the US. My phone is not based out of Italy however.
rayjames is offline  
Aug 25th, 2011, 02:34 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
rayjames: I encourage you to look into Skype.

Skype-to-Skype calls are free. Siging up for skype is free. If you and your spouse both sign up for Skype, you can call each other for free.

Otherwise, for travel, you can use the Subscription service. You pay about $15 for one month and you can call anywhere in the world to other people's landlines and mobiles from your computer (your computer will have a speaker phone, right?)

Go into the Skype website, look under "Prices" and then "Subscriptions". You don't have to buy more than a month at a time.

When travelling, I get the worldwide subscription, because it allows me to call European phone numbers as well as US numbers. That way, if I have to make/change/cancel a reservation, it's just a phone call away. Or trying to coordinate meeting someone...Sometimes, I may be looking something up online and there's a phone number listed. I just click on the phone number and Skype lets me talk to the company directly right then and there, no matter where it's located in the world.

A more expensive way is for you, for a further charge, to have the phone calls forwarded to your mobile phone, so you can receive Skype calls directly on your phone.
easytraveler is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:34 PM.