Travelling to the US for 2 weeks. Need a data plan

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by mariotr87, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. mariotr87 macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    Hi all,

    As the title says I'll be in the USA for 2 weeks in May, and I was looking for options (I definitely need a data plan while I'm there).
    I find american cellular networks to be confusing at the least, not only they are different to the European ones, but also different within the same country, so I don't really know what I need.

    I have an iPhone 5, the GSM version that is sold in the UK/Ireland (AFAIK I won't get LTE speeds with this phone, but I'm OK with that so long I get HSDPA. Edge is not enough).

    I'm looking for:

    -A pay as you go plan that I can pay for in cash, preferably.
    -HSDPA speeds
    -Unlimited data or whatever is closer to this (2GB could do I guess, but the more the better)
    -I don't need voice/text, but if it's there, I don't care.
    -Tethering would be great. I could live without it if it's necessary but it would be really useful since I have an iPad.

    If could have it ready before going that would be good too, instead of having to purchase the nano sim there.

    Anyway, what are my options (if any)?
  2. IFRIT macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2012
    The iPhone 5 is a world phone as far as I'm aware so you'd get LTE fine.
  3. mariotr87 thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    It's not really a world phone, at least it's not when it comes to LTE. We use different bands in Europe for this technology, which means I won't get LTE with an European phone in the USA or vice versa.

    Anyway my question is more about american "pay as you go" data plans. Does anyone have any recommendations?

  4. seeharrison macrumors regular


    Nov 8, 2011
    I would take a look at T-Mobile. They have a $2 per day unlimited everything plan. You basically only pay for the days you use it and the nanosim is free. I walked right into a T-Mobile store, paid $10 cash for 5 days worth of service.
  5. designs216 macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    Seeharrison's T-Mobile suggestion sounds like the best way to go.

    I was going to suggest looking at StraightTalk's $48 plan but it's not as efficient or quick as that from T-mobile. With ST you have to order the microsim up front and it could take two weeks to arrive. Then you can sign up for service on their web site and install the AP.
  6. LapsangSouchong macrumors 65816


    Jul 15, 2010
    the burrows
  7. vbtwo31984 macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2010
    The only problem you might encounter with T-Mobile is that the area you might be in is not refarmed, so you'll only get Edge with an iPhone. If the are you are going to be in is refarmed, then T-Mobile prepaid is the best. T-Mobile is refarming more and more of their locations, so by May it might not be a downside anymore. You can go to a T-Mobile store, get a SIM, pay cash for refill cards, and it'll cost you $3/day for unlimited everything (200mb/day of HSPA data, then throttled but unlimited) or $2/day for slower but still unlimited data and unlimited talk/text.
    Or get a SIM, but activate online and for $30 you get 5gb HSPA data (then throttled), unlimited texts and 100 minutes of talk.

    You can also go with AT&T prepaid, but they do not have a voice/text/data plan except $65/month for unlimited voice/text and 1gb data so you would have to pay that for the month even though you're only here for 2 weeks.

    Or if you find StraightTalk SIM somewhere, it's an AT&T MVNO and you'll get unlimited text/talk/data (semi-capped at around 2gb) for $45/month
  8. mariotr87 thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    Very interesting information, thank you all!

    Looks like T-Mobile is the way to go, although that HSDPA low availability bothers me. I'll do a quick search to see what the status is and what will be in 6 months time. I'll be mainly moving around large cities across the country, these places should be the first ones to be refarmed I guess.

    I'll take a look at AT&T and StraightTalk too just in case. All of them might discontinue or add new services within this time anyway so I'll keep an eye on them until the trip is closer :D

  9. BFizzzle macrumors 68020


    May 31, 2010
    Austin TX
    from the looks of it the USA ..and UK GSM have the same LTE Bands.. so i dont see why you wouldnt be able to get LTE here?

    Attached Files:

    • us.bmp
      File size:
      3.7 MB
    • UK.bmp
      File size:
      3.7 MB
  10. mariotr87 thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    The specs page is the same for both, but take a look closer, all the models are listed in the "3G and Wireless" section:

    - GSM model A1428*: UTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE** (Bands 4 and 17)

    -CDMA model A1429*: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900, 2100 MHz); UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE** (Bands 1, 3, 5, 13, 25)

    -GSM model A1429*: UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE** (Bands 1, 3, 5)

    There are 2 GSM models and 1 CDMA model. The second GSM model uses bands 1,3 and 5 for LTE and the first one uses 4 and 17. A1428* is for USA and Canada (and maybe a few more countries, I'm not sure). A1429* is for most of Europe and Asia.

    So unfortunately I don't think I would get LTE there.
  11. ikl macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2012
    If you do not like swapping the SIMs while travelling (like me), another option would be to get a Mifi device and use the T-Mobile SIM with it. Just connect to the Mifi and you will have all the data services available like usually. Also, your mobile phone number will remain the same as home. Additionally, you can share the same connection with your iphone/ipdad/etc. when needed.
  12. LoloBond macrumors 6502

    Nov 21, 2011
    This is what you need. Don't bother with T-mobile it sucks in US. Straight-talk uses AT&T network. The only negative is that I don't think they have nano sim cards yet... you will have to cut it down.
  13. chestvrg macrumors 65816

    Dec 13, 2010
    I switched to tmobile prepaid because I was having problems with an APN setting in ST and regret it. ST uses at&t's network and it is far superior than tmobile. For some reason the tmobile network inside my house goes off and drops back to edge, from 3G. I never had that problem with straight talk because I remember the signal used to be on 5 bars on my 4S. You might want to get an AT&T compatible network such as AT&T prepaid or ST.
  14. BFizzzle macrumors 68020


    May 31, 2010
    Austin TX
    damn! my bad.. thats what i get for getting on her during work and rushing.

    Thats lame they wont make a world phone
  15. vbtwo31984 macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2010
    Looks like the tower that it connects to in your house on T-Mobile isn't refarmed yet. Even in areas that are getting refarmed, some towers aren't yet.

    The tower next to my house just got refarmed last week, and I went from Edge on T-Mobile to 8-9mbps down and 2mbps up with 40-50ms ping. If the area is refarmed, T-Mobile is faster than AT&T HSPA.

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