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Old 08-21-2006, 05:14 PM   #1
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Hey everyone, sorry if this question is addressed somewhere else in the forums, but I haven't found it yet and can't spend all day reading, as I'm at work.

Anyway, I just wanted to ask about cell phones. Very soon I'll be traveling to Canada, Ireland, France, and back to Canada all before coming back home to the US -- staying variously from a few days to three weeks in each location along the way. I've heard that it's possible to reprogram your cell phone so that the international charges don't sneak up and kill you. But I'm clueless. How would I go about reprogramming my cell so that it works as cheaply as possible when I'm calling the US? (Unfortunately, I'll have to make a lot of calls to my workplace, it's unavoidable.) Or is this not even possible? Sorry to be so clueless here. Go ahead and explain it to me like I'm an eight year-old.

Thanks in advance,
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Old 08-21-2006, 05:18 PM   #2
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Good question I would like to know this one myself! It would help me with those bogus thousand dollar bills I pay the phone companies! Oh and Welcome to the boards dude!
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Old 08-21-2006, 05:25 PM   #3
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Simple.

Get a prepaid SIM card in each country. Incoming calls are almost always free (outside the USA). They buy a phone card and can call you after an email/text message. If this works for you then the problem is solved.

This would require you getting your phone unlocked. google it.

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Old 08-21-2006, 05:28 PM   #4
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But does it work for PDA's? I had my new phone shipped from Japan and it came unlock and all I bought the SIM card over T-mobile. yet I don't know I'm curious about PDA's.
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Old 08-21-2006, 08:06 PM   #5
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As long as you have a Tri or Quad band GSM device, you can probably get it unlocked by contacting your service provider and then use local SIM cards as recommended above. Getting a U.S. GSM phone unlocked can sometimes be difficult as the service providers do not like to do it. Once the phone is unlocked, you only have to worry about getting local sim cards and prepaid calling cards. The sim card generally can be found under the battery on many phones. When buying a local SIM card in Europe, talk to the phone people as to how to get the best rates for calling the U.S., sometimes there are special plans or calling cards you can get.

If you have a CDMA device, say if you have Verizon Wireless as your service provider, you will need a different phone - it won't work in Europe. Generally, T-Mobile and Cingular now use a GSM network and Verizon uses CDMA. If you have any follow up questions, let us know.
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Old 08-22-2006, 03:52 AM   #6
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You can't reprograme a phone just by going through the menus you'd need to hook it up to a computer and have specialist software. Allot of modern phones will work anywhere in the world (do ye have Vodafone over there?) and you might be able to switch sims to get cheeper calls but I wouldn't count on it working. You can get a phone realitively cheep in Ireland which would work all over Europe if you went with vodafone, you'll get a load of free credit with it aswell.

I just got a nice 3g phone the Nokia 6324 for 60. A company called meteor do a phone with 90 credit for 49 but Vodafone are one of the biggest companys in Europe so your preaty much guaranteed it'll work everywhere. Ask for Vodafone passport while roaming Europe you pay local rates.
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Old 08-23-2006, 12:33 PM   #7
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If all this seems a bit confusing, or if you just don't want to spend all that money on SIM cards or God forbid on a new phone, then do the easy thing and get a calling card. There are lots of good ones, but I know onesuite cards work from all the countries you mentioned. You can always refill your minutes with a calling card, or if you have any minutes left over at the end of your travels, you can use them domestically, too. The simplest solution is often the best. Occam's Razor and all that.
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Old 08-24-2006, 12:05 PM   #8
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Well you don't actually reprogram your cell phone. Actually you need an unlocked GSM phone that is capable of 900MHZ and 1800MHZ for operation in Europe. Currently in the United States, TMobile and Cingular are operating the largest GSM network. If you have a tri or quad band phone you will be fine. They offer roaming, usually pretty expensive like .99 a minute. If you have been with them for atleast 90 days, ask that they send you the Subscriber Unlock code, which will allow you to put a new SIM card into your phone. They are so cheap, and easy to find everywhere in Europe. Or, you can buy a cheap unlocked phone on Ebay. I suggest getting a SIM from a Virtual Operator. Basically they buy up all the bulk minutes from a large carrier in a particular country, and then resell it. The SIM for Germany, or France or whatever will allow you to receive free incoming calls where you are not billed, but you have to be in that particular country of where they are the native network. Like T-Mobile Germany, its free to receive in Germany but will be billed roaming if you leave the country and receive calls. Mobile networks are expensive to call from the US, I have vonage and I am charged .30 a minute to call a mobile compared to .04 to call a landline. I still have my Blau.de SIM card and my number is still active in Germany. I switch SIMs as soon as I land.
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