Anyone here know a lot about cell phones and plans?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by ieani, Dec 21, 2006.

  1. ieani macrumors 6502a

    ieani

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2006
    Location:
    the states for now
    #1
    I want to get a new cell phone and my own plan. Can I get a phone and a plan that allow me to talk while in Europe? Or do I buy a US plan and then buy something extra when I go to Europe? Or can I get a phone that does email on a family plan where no one else wants email? I dont know anything about how cell phones work internationally. So any help/info would be appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #2
    If you want the phone you have in the US to work in Europe, you're going to want to pick a carrier that uses GSM technology. GSM is what most of the world uses for their cell phones networks.

    In the US, T-Mobile and Cingular are GSM carriers. Virtually any of their phones will work in most spots in Europe. Both carriers have online maps that shows where in Europe they have coverage. Sprint and Verizon use CDMA technology. Only special, expensive versions of their phones (which actually have CDMA + GSM technology built into them) will work in Europe.

    Both T-Mobile and Cingular will let you make/receive calls when you're in Europe, but their rates can be pretty expensive. Something also to be careful of if you take a T-Mobile and Cingular phone overseas is that if you get a phone call but don't answer it, you can still be billed a few minutes of airtime at whatever the international rate is where you're at, which can be very expensive ($2.99/minute or higher sometimes). Both carriers should have instructions on their website for how to avoid this.

    Another option is when you get to Europe, you can buy a cheap prepaid phone. Or if you have a T-Mobile or Cingular phone, you can ask them to unlock it, and when you get overseas, you can pop a prepaid SIM into it. That's requires a little more understanding but is an easy solution too.

    As for your family plan question, that varies by carrier. I know with T-Mobile, it's no problem to have a family plan but just pay extra for data (for the email) for just one of the phones.

    Hope that helps some. :)
     
  3. Leareth macrumors 68000

    Leareth

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Location:
    Vancouver
    #3
    depending on how long you are going to spend in Europe, I would recommend just buying a cheap disposable prepaid phone there for your use. If you are going to be there for a few months maybe sign up for phone there.

    I am not sure if you want to use the phone in europe to call US, if yes then go with european cell phone and a third party long distance card. much much cheaper.

    Or oyu could always try one of the new VOIP cell phones, some seem to be flat rate around world...
     
  4. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #4
    I'm not sure it would make a difference, but T-mobile is actually owned by Deutsche Telekom, a huge telecommunications company headquartered in Germany. I would expect them to make their US and Europe systems interoperable (but this may or may not be true).
     
  5. adk macrumors 68000

    adk

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Location:
    Stuck in the middle with you
    #5
    Any US GSM phone will technically work on any GSM network in europe, but the US carrier still charges VERY expensive rates.
     
  6. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #6
    Whatever you do, do not get Cingular. Their service is horrible. By service I mean both the cellular service and customer service. Just god awful. My contract with them is up in 23 hours and 22 minutes, and I can't wait because I'm switching the second the T-Mobile store opens on Saturday :D
     
  7. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #7
    Careful though. If you're going to be outside major urban areas you need to get a GSM phone that supports the 900 MHz band as well as 1800 MHz. Many "tri-band" phones only support 850/1800/1900 you really want a quad-band phone if going to Europe. If you can get your phone unlocked here you can buy prepaid SIM cards in Europe and switch them into your phone as needed.

    B
     
  8. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
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    5045 feet above sea level
    #8
    just fyi I know Tom Martino the Troubleshooter (who is a consumer advocate radio talk show person and has a podcast from the music store) really does not like T-mobile. Just what I had heard take it as you want
     
  9. ieani thread starter macrumors 6502a

    ieani

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2006
    Location:
    the states for now
    #9
    Thanks for all the info. I also did some research and it appears that it will be best to communicate with internet. I had planned on spending a year at least in Europe studying abroad. And verizon our current wireless carrier charges $.69 a minute for international calls. Im still going to look into pre-paid SIM cards which I know remember some friends from Ireland using here.
     
  10. GnarleyMarley macrumors 6502

    GnarleyMarley

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #10
    Yeah. I was down in Bogota for a few months this summer and I have Cingular service. The first few days I was there I'd get calls, but all my friends would tell me not to answer because the roaming charges would be insane. Anyway, I finally just went to Comcel and bought a pre-paid SIM card and used it the whole time I was down there in my Unlocked phone. So if you can get an unlocked phone off of ebay or something.
     
  11. bozigle macrumors regular

    #11
    Funny that no European answer you yet?

    Well Yeah in Europe you need GSM since this is the only thing we have here.
    You're spending one year in Europe...
    Depending where you are:
    In Finland you need to by your phone and pay your comunication monthly (provided you have a fixed address) or prepaid (not a favorite here)
    In France you could do the same or get a contract for one year, that would provide you a new phone for a little fee (1.Euro) but you have to agree on the amount of comunication you'll have each month so check on the one with long distance comunication best price. and whenever you go over your agreed monthly consomation you pay huge amount per call. also the phone is not likely to be reusable on other network since the phone are locked so it's quite hard to move from one company to an other one.
    Italy is pretty much into prepaid and i guess UK has a similar situation as France from what i recall last winter but you can wait from answers from Londoner

    orange, sfr, dna, bouygues, 02, are european operators poping to my mind

    bozigle
     
  12. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #12

    I know a ton of people with T, and none of them have any complaints :\
     
  13. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #13
    Despite what all the cell providers' commercials make you think, all cell phone coverage is local, just like politics.

    You may happen to live in a place where T-Mobile is better than say Cingular, but there may be neighboring areas where the reverse is just as true.

    B
     
  14. swiftaw macrumors 603

    swiftaw

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    Location:
    Omaha, NE, USA
    #14
    I have T-mobile, my parents live in England, and i have friends in Prague. I have a Razr and it works fine in europe although it is expensive (99 cents a minute) but is useful for texting (which is a little more reasonable).
     
  15. extraextra macrumors 68000

    extraextra

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2006
    Location:
    California
    #15
    I have Cingular, they work fine all over the world, but for someone reason have no coverage in Japan! Weird. But you pay about $7 extra a month for "international service" (it won't work unless you activate the service) and then you get a reduced rate for calls. Or, they said you can buy the phone, and then buy a SIM card from whatever country you're in and the phone will work there (assuming you've bought a quad-band GSM phone).
     
  16. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #16
    I was surprised to hear that guy had problems with T-Mobile too. They regularly are rated the highest in customer services and also usually at the top when it comes to network quality.
     
  17. question fear macrumors 68020

    question fear

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2003
    Location:
    The "Garden" state
    #17
    You should look at whether T-Mo's coverage is decent in the USA for you, since they only use one of the two bands (Cingy uses both).

    You'll want a phone that is quad band.

    You CANNOT use a Verizon phone. You need to get a different provider or get a different provider when you reach overseas. AFAIK, none of the European providers use the same frequency as Verizon, and you cannot use a SIM card. (Do not even get me started on how awful that is for USA customers, and how idiotic it is that we still use CDMA-Sprint/Verizon's networks-since the rest of the damn world uses a whole other standard. GRRRRR).

    If Verizon is already your carrier you should probably just go with a yearlong contract with a Euro carrier or go pre-paid. Also, a year roaming overseas on a USA contract would be very, very, pricey. If you're worried about paying for a phone, just go on ebay, buy an unlocked quad band GSM, and take it with you to pop in the SIM of whoever you purchase service from.
     
  18. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #18
    If your studying abroad means you'll have the ability to get high-speed Internet where you're staying, and you're looking to stay in touch with your friends/family in the US, then you might want to consider getting a Vonage box.

    No matter where in the world you go, so long as you can plug your Vonage box into a high-speed Internet connection, you can call people and they can call you just like you were back at home -- same phone number and everything.
     
  19. billyboy macrumors 65816

    billyboy

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2003
    Location:
    In my head
    #19
    I know nothing about phones, wish is why I posted this variant of the spoof iphone ad
     
  20. w_parietti22 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2005
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #20
    Sorry for being a tad of topic, but do you know if mobile to mobile still counts in europe? Also, what about unlimited text messaging?
     
  21. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #21
    Generally speaking I have separate phones for each country I tend to spend any quantity of time in, even if they're all GSM. I roam with two phones so people can reach me but for local calls I'll use one of the local phones I have. If you're roaming internationally, you get bitten two ways - you pay international for calls you receive, and you also pay international for calls you make.

    If I go straight into meetings & then hotels without going into my offices in any of the countries to pick up my local phones, then a Friday morning - Monday evening visit alone can cost me a few hundred pounds in roaming phone/data bills even with my discounts.

    I say leave your US phone at home, buy an unlocked phone, get a prepaid SIM card in any of the countries you're going to be in for any length of time and let your folks know all of them - that would probably be the most cost-effective solution.
     
  22. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2006
    Location:
    One Nation Under Gordon
    #22
    One other thing which you might like to look into are services like Jajah. I use Skype a lot, and have a SkypeIn number in a number of countries.
     
  23. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #23
    From what I've read on HowardForums.com (in the T-Mobile and Cingular) forums, M2M and unlimited text do not apply when out of the country.
     

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