When you travel abroad you may find that your trusty cell phone does not work in foreign countries, or extremely remote locations if you're that adventurous. If your phone is incompatible with GSM or you don't want to pay for international roaming, then you can rent a phone that works in the area you'll be visiting. Phones 4 U is a very popular online store located in the United Kingdom where you can rent a phone by the month or purchase an inexpensive "disposable" prepaid phone. Satellite phones, or "sat phones", have virtually no geographical limitations and work where there is no cellular phone coverage. If you plan to travel, I recommend that you start by calling your mobile phone service provider to see what they recommend, what it will cost, and the specific geographic location(s) where you will be able to use your phone. It was completely worth having a phone, from calling museums and resturants for hours & location, to coordinating with fellow travelers. We work though the strength of global relationships and commitment to innovation, we make it possible for travelers to take advantage of the most sophisticated voice and data technology enabling them to stay connected whenever and wherever they travel… and save money. For most of us, as soon as we leave North America, our cellphone switches from being an essential business tool to a useless piece of junk, due to incompatibilities between the American cellphone system and the GSM system almost universally adopted elsewhere in the world. The second problem is a commercial problem - your phone will only work on other companies' services if there is a cross-billing (ie roaming) agreement between the companies.
To get cellphone service in another country you need both a compatible phone and a compatible account. The good news is that almost everywhere in the world (except for the US and Canada) uses GSM type digital cellphone service. Unfortunately, the GSM service in North America is in different frequency bands to the rest of the world - 1900 and sometimes 850 MHz instead of 1800 and 900 MHz. Some phone manufacturers (eg Siemens, Ericsson and Motorola) have started making dual and triple band phones to enable you to have a phone that will receive 1900MHz (and sometimes 850MHz) in the US and either or both of the international frequencies as well. This is a wonderful solution if you want one phone to work both locally and internationally. Now that the US is using two frequencies for GSM service (see the next section on Quad band phones) some phones are being sold as triple band phones which feature both US GSM frequencies and only one of the international frequencies - the 1800 MHz band.
Unfortunately, the 1800 MHz band is less commonly used than the 900 MHz band in the rest of the world.
If you're buying a triple band phone, make sure you understand which three bands it includes. This makes sense for them, but really complicates matters for the handset manufacturers, and for us as handset purchasers. If you want a phone that will work in the US as well as internationally, you'll need to sign up with a carrier that provides GSM service in the US.
If you're buying a phone, it is very desirable that it be 'unlocked' - this means that it will allow any SIM (SIM's are explained next week) from any service provider, anywhere in the world to be used in it. Obviously, many phone companies hate to make it easy for you to ever use another carrier's service! T-Mobile has the fairest policy - they will unlock your phone 90 days after you've activated service, and it is a quick simple process to arrange this to happen.
For this reason, you should preferentially buy phones from T-Mobile, never from AT&T and preferably not from Cingular.
If you already have a locked GSM phone, or if you want to buy a phone that will be locked when you receive it, this page tells you how we can unlock many types of phones for you, quickly and easily. You can buy a phone together with a service plan from a US carrier such as T-Mobile or Cingular - the advantage of doing this is that the phone will probably be discounted below the normal selling price.

You can buy on eBay - amazing values can be found on eBay - go to this page for a current list of auctions. Mobal offer very inexpensive GSM phones (as little as $49) complete with bundled service through their provider. You can buy while overseas - but in such a case, you may not be able to conveniently research the phone alternatives open to you, and most likely, the phone will not then be also compatible in the US. AT&T also rent phones (as well as sell locked GSM phones and GSM service), but the representative I spoke to told me that they only rent phones to their existing customers, and the process seemed to be incredibly complex and unwelcoming. Try and get a phone with a Lithium-Ion type battery - these are much better than the Nickel Metal Hydride batteries.
Different countries, including parts of Canada, all of Britain, and some states within the US, have different laws that may restrict your ability to use a cellphone while driving an automobile. If so, please donate to keep the website free and fund the addition of more articles like this.
Savvy travelers take advantage of international cell phone rentals to temporarily serve their needs in different countries. But United States carriers are split between GSM and CDMA; the latter won't work in GSM countries. Rent from us and easily keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues while abroad using one phone and one number in over 150 countries. First, there are various different types of radio frequencies and encoding services which different cell phone services use - and if your phone doesn't receive the frequency and encoding of the local service, it becomes, of course, useless.
You can either buy or rent a cellphone, either in the US or overseas, but be sure you get one that will be compatible internationally in the countries you plan on traveling to (see part six). This service was originally at a frequency of 900 MHz and now increasingly is being upgraded to an 1800 MHz service. If you are going to choose one of these phones, it is very strongly recommended that you get a triple band phone that includes both the international frequencies as well as the two US frequencies. The cover either both international frequencies plus one US frequency, or both US frequencies and one international frequency. This makes these types of triple band phones not as useful as a triple band phone with both international frequencies while traveling out of the US. The GSM providers in the US are now (late 2003) starting to 'recycle' some earlier frequencies that were first used for the original analog cell phone services almost 20 years ago. The benefit of this band is that cell sites can have slightly longer range with the lower frequency than they do with the higher 1900MHz, which makes them useful in rural areas.
Note that the merger between AT&T and Cingular has now been essentially completed, and so for new service your choice is essentially either T-Mobile or Cingular. Other carriers that exist in small parts of the US can be found listed on this site (make sure the listing on the page refers to a carrier with current GSM service!).
All your account information is in this replaceable SIM - to change carriers, you simply change SIM cards - but only if the phone allows you to do this. For this reason, it is disappointingly common that some phone companies will electronically 'lock' the cell phone you buy from them and restrict it to only work with SIMs they supply. At the time of writing (Aug 04) T-Mobile also seemed to have the best plans and range of added value services. A good one costs little more than $200, and the top of the line, ultra-deluxe unit complete with color screen, can be had for about $500. At the time of writing, eBay were listing 1200 different GSM phone items and accessories for sale!

You might also find yourself spending substantial amounts of your travel time attempting to arrange this purchase, it may be several days before you succeed, and you may end up paying more than you would for the same phone in the US. In Part Two we'll talk about how to get connected overseas at the lowest cost, and in part three we offer an alternate strategy to give you a single phone number that works everywhere in the world. Any help is most appreciated - simply click below to securely send a contribution through a credit card and Paypal. Some of the information we give you here can save you thousands of dollars the next time youa€™re arranging travel, or will substantially help the quality of your travel experiences in other, non-cash ways. There are even satellite phone rentals that can keep you connected in the Sahara desert or the Amazon River basin. There are lots of Web sites where you can arrange an international cell phone rental prior to your trip.
A single satellite may cover half of the Earth while a network of cellular towers covers only heavily populated and traveled segments of a single country. When I look online at websites like lonelyplanet for travel in Guatemala, they suggest buying a phone there. Murphy's Law being what it is, if you get a phone with only one of the two international frequency bands, you'll surely end up in black spots with no service much more frequently than if you'd bought a full triple band phone. Try never to buy a locked phone, because you truly are then a captive of that phone company. In addition, make sure that the phone is not 'locked' (or that you can get the phone unlocked subsequently).
If buying on eBay, all the usual cautions apply, of course - buy from sellers with positive feedback and pay by credit card.
Getting in trouble with foreign police is never pleasant - it pays to know this information. Part four summarizes the different ways to get cell phone service internationally and helps you choose which is best for you.
That problem is solved partially by international roaming agreements between different carriers.
A satellite phone is what you need if you plan a backpacking vacation or want to call home from your sailboat in the middle of the ocean. Read on for an explanation of all these issues and suggestions on the best way to get a phone working. Some people report being able to subsequently persuade Cingular to unlock locked phones, but generally they have no success at this. Part five discusses in detail which frequency bands you need your phone to have, and part six reviews another single number world phone service, similar to that in part three. Buying a locked phone from Cingular would seem to be a poor choice, due to the uncertain nature of ever getting it unlocked. But it may be technologically impossible to roam due to incompatible cellular transmission technologies.

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Comments to International cell phone plans mexico


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