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Will a quad band phone with an 1800 Mhz sims card work in Costa Rica?

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Jun 5th, 2008, 05:35 PM
  #1
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Will a quad band phone with an 1800 Mhz sims card work in Costa Rica?

Will a quad band phone with an 1800 Mhz sims card work in Costa Rica?

We will be in San Jose, Alajuela, Tortuguero, Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio. Iíve read that parts of Costa Rica get better reception with TDMA, and other parts get reception with GSM fine. I found a GSM site with a map, and it looks like we will get reception in most areas with 1800 Mhz GMS. Is that correct?

We donít want to rent phones with TDMA if we donít have to. We also hate to spend money on a TDMA compatible phone since most of us travel enough that we either own or would rather buy an unlocked quad band phone. Weíd prefer to buy pre-paid SIMS cards, but Iím having trouble finding SIMS cards specifically for Costa Rica, although I can find an 1800 Mhz card, and an international roaming card. If the quad band phone will work, which card do you recommend?

I found a rental site, but itís over $10/day. That doesnít sound like a lot, but for two weeks, thatís $250 per phone. That seems way too high to me since you can buy a phone for that and have it for the next trip, wherever that might be.

We are traveling with a large group (12 of us) with a number of teenage children. Iíd like to know we have a couple of phones between us that work since we probably wonít always be together. Iíd love SIMS cards that can be used for another destination at a later date if possible. I anticipate most, if not all calls will be made in-country to one another, although Iíd like to be able to make/receive international calls (to/from the U.S.) even if the charge is high.

Costa Rica seems to be a bit unique, in that, on all the sites I found with pre-paid Sims cards, none offered cards specifically for Costa Rica. Can somebody please tell me what Iím missing here?
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Jun 5th, 2008, 07:16 PM
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Costa Rica's phone company is a governent monopoly. It is I.C.E. and to get a sims card you have to be a resident of Costa Rica. I bought a world band phone that will work there and got an unlock code so I can insert a card, but you can't get the cards there.

You can see if your carrier will enable international roaming on your 1800 Mhz GMS phone and it will work, but you pay around $3.00 per minute.
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Jun 5th, 2008, 07:27 PM
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Thanks cgenster. So, you're saying even if we have an unlocked phone we can't buy a card, so we have to use international roaming rates from the U.S?
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Jun 6th, 2008, 10:32 AM
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I just used a new prepaid SIM that works in Costa Rica. Calls to USA were .27/min. I forwarded my usa cell to my SIM # and got calls from US no problem. Outbound calls use a tricky callback system, but it works.

You need an unlocked GSM phone w/ 1800Mhz. celtrek.com
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Jun 6th, 2008, 10:56 AM
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Thanks dweissnj. I'll check it out right now. This was the answer I was looking for.
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Jun 6th, 2008, 07:52 PM
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dweissnji

That is good news. I spent so much time getting my phone unlocked to use in Costa Rica just to find out that I couldn't get a SIM card. I want it to make local calls there. Does the SIM card give you a Costa Rica number and what is the cost for local calls, still .27 per minute?
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Jun 7th, 2008, 06:34 AM
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Sounds like it might work for us. We have a CR phone but it is an older one that we bought from a friend and reception isn't great.
How was the reception on your Celtrek? At the moment we just buy an international phone card in CR to use with it. It is about .42 a minute. We have bought international cards in the states for family members so they can call us for 4 cents a minute. We generally call and leave a quick message for them to call us back at the cheaper rate.

I am an idiot when it comes to computers, phones, etc. Is this something even I could figure out eventually? When you say you forwarded your US cell phone does that mean people call that number and then the phone company forwards the call to the new phone? Have no clue as to what you mean by a crazy call back.

I am also looking into a combination of phone communication and Skype when I can get to a computer. We have a great internet cafe near us with high speed satellite and we see people using Skype. Still trying to figure that one out.

Any insight on any of the above would be appreciated. Feel free to contact me directly. [email protected]


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Jun 7th, 2008, 11:29 AM
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After dweissnjís excellent suggestion, I checked out CelTrek. It looks like a great solution, and not just for Costa Rica. I think this is exactly what Iím looking for, and thought this additional information might be useful to others. I am a bit technologically challenged, so I suggest others do their own research rather than take my word for any of this. Hereís what I found, and my basic understanding.

Hereís a link to a GSM world map/list countries and their frequencies. Click on the country you are visiting, and you will see a list of frequencies used and also have a link to a coverage map.

http://www.gsmworld.com/roaming/gsminfo/index.shtml

Knowing that the areas in Costa Rica Iím going to get reception on the 1800 Mhz frequency, I thought about just buying an 1800 Mhz card, which is what prompted my original question.

I had previously checked out several websites, including Telestial, (www.telestial.com) but didnít really find the answer I was looking for. While many of Telestialís products are great for other countries, it didnít seem to fit for Costa Rica. Telestial offers cards specific to each country, based on that countryís frequency, and they also offer international roaming cards. They do not, however, sell a card specifically for Costa Rica. They have several types of roaming cards, but if you look at the list of roaming partners you will notice it has not been updated since January 2007, and does not list a roaming partner in Costa Rica. The card Telestial suggests for Costa Rica is a Global Riing Roaming Card. This card works in 100 countries, costs $69 and includes $20 of airtime. Your cell phone number is based in Lichtenstein. While in Costa Rica, incoming calls are .30/minute and outgoing call are $1.10/minute. To find the cost for each country, scroll over the map. What I did not like about Telestial, is that it seems that no matter where youíre calling to/from, that since you are roaming back to Lichtenstein, that outgoing calls are very expensive.

Now to what I found on CelTrek:

Celtrek doesnít sell separate cards specifically for different countries. It appears from the list of countries that each card can be used for, that many of the cards roam the 4 major frequencies (850/900/1800/1900). You can buy a card, which will never expire, and you can use it for various trips. You can add airtime to your card at any time. As with other SIM cards, airtime is deducted from the card when you make the call, depending on where you are at the time the call is made and where you are calling.

You will have a U.S. telephone number, so calls to the U.S. are the least expensive. Incoming calls are less expensive than outgoing calls. There is a rate and coverage/calculator tab on the site that shows you the rates for each country. This is the only place I found on the site that actually listed in which countries you will/will not receive coverage. For example, I wanted to see what the price was in Uganda, but when I looked for cost saw that Uganda was not listed. I am assuming I would not have coverage there. The card will work in 165 countries.

An outgoing call from Costa Rica to the U.S. is .29/minute, but an outgoing call to either a cell phone in Costa Rica or to a Costa Rica landline is .37/minute. That is because you have a U.S. telephone number. If you plan to primarily use the phone while in Costa Rica, and plan to primarily call other Costa Rica numbers, there may be a less expensive alternative, but .37/minute seems pretty reasonable to me.

A card that includes $25 of airtime is $74.00. I think this is a pretty good price, based on the other possibilities I looked into.

Thank you dweissnj!
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Jun 10th, 2008, 01:10 PM
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I was so excited that this solution worked so well for me. It has some problems though. I got a used phone that is quad/unlocked, so my family don't have to take mine, but the celtrek sim has some problems with it (moto v190). Tech support is a little sketchy. They are supposed to get back to me (we'll see)

Anyway. I might as well plug for $5 off if you list my phone # as referral (you get $5 too) 9734048714

P.S. You get a US phone number, not CR. I'm on my way to Germany and should save $$ there too.
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Jun 10th, 2008, 06:37 PM
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Thanks for the additional information dweissng.

What sort of problems did you have? Did you get decent reception in Costa Rica? Where did it work/not work?

Thanks,
Dana
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