Best US SIM card?

Old Jan 25, 07, 12:56 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 279
Best US SIM card?

OK, so I've searched this thread and found lots of information on obtaining a US SIM card for my UK phone to use on a forthcoming trip to the US. I just need a little more advice. I will be transiting at JFK. I will then be spending time in PR, GA, and AL. What would be the best service provider for this trip? Is there one that offers better coverage for this?

Also, I've seen some US SIM cards available for sale on ebay. Is there any disadvantage to purchasing this was rather then directly from the store (apart from the obvious/usual ebay risks)? Otherwise, is there somewhere at JFK to purchase one? If not, it would be ideal to be able to have this delivered to me in the UK so I can activate immediatly on arrival at JFK. I will mainly be using the SIM to text abroad so heaps of minutes is not a priority (however I will be making some calls).

Thanks in advance for your infomation!
Humshee is offline  
Old Jan 25, 07, 1:10 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: DSM
Programs: "I COME FROM Des Moines. Somebody had to." -- Bill Bryson
Posts: 1,134
Buy a TMobile SIM card on eBay. You can check their coverage here. TMobile cards are easier to get and tend to offer the best value than Cingular. TMo and Cingular are the only GSM carriers in the USA.
UAVirgin is offline  
Old Jan 25, 07, 1:34 pm
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 279
Cingular?

Thanks for such a prompt reply including the link. TMo has no coverage in PR I found a similar map for Cingular. Are they as bad as people say? According to the map, it is going to cover me everywhere I go. Is it a good bet or is Cingular THAT bad?
Humshee is offline  
Old Jan 25, 07, 1:55 pm
  #4  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 37,486
Originally Posted by Humshee View Post
Thanks for such a prompt reply including the link. TMo has no coverage in PR I found a similar map for Cingular. Are they as bad as people say? According to the map, it is going to cover me everywhere I go. Is it a good bet or is Cingular THAT bad?
For prepaid they'll be just as good.

You may want to check with your UK operator to see if they offer any international roaming discount packages for SMS, the cost of sending SMS on prepaid can be pretty steep here.

Prepaid in the US is nowhere near as advanced as other countries. There is nowhere at JFK (as far as I know) where you can buy a Cingular or T-mobile sim card.
ScottC is offline  
Old Jan 25, 07, 2:24 pm
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 279
Cost?

Does anyone know how much Cingular charges to text abroad (in particular the UK)? As well as domestic US? This is on a pre-paid card. I can't seem to find the prices ontheir website.

Thanks
Humshee is offline  
Old Jan 25, 07, 2:50 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: SJU
Programs: AA1MM EXP,HH SIL,Hertz 5 stars,ACmember
Posts: 180
Thumbs up

Originally Posted by Humshee View Post
Does anyone know how much Cingular charges to text abroad (in particular the UK)? As well as domestic US? This is on a pre-paid card. I can't seem to find the prices ontheir website.

Thanks
Hi:
The domestic text messages cost 10 cents each. I believe that the cost abroad is 25 cents. Anyways I add you the link from Cingular with the international rates. Cheers...https://www.cingular.com/learn/inter...00011026000000
Hroma is offline  
Old Jan 25, 07, 3:18 pm
  #7  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: n.y.c.
Posts: 13,372
Originally Posted by Humshee View Post
Also, I've seen some US SIM cards available for sale on ebay. Is there any disadvantage to purchasing this was rather then directly from the store (apart from the obvious/usual ebay risks)?
The last time I bought them, an activated T-mobile SIM card was about $50 in the store, and about $10 on eBay.
nerd is offline  
Old Jan 25, 07, 3:36 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 544
You can buy an already activated card on ebay and have it mailed to you. Last time I was going to the US this is what I did. Bought a prepaid Cingular card from another UK resident on Ebay.co.uk. He had bought it in the US, used it and brought it back home.

So for 22, I bought a SIM card with 40 worth of credit on it. Pre-paid SIMs dont work in the UK but I popped it in when I got to NYC and all was fine.
osamede is offline  
Old Jan 25, 07, 3:41 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Princeton, NJ; Lviv Ukraine
Programs: UA 3.6MM, AF/KL Lifetime Plat, BA Gold, AA 1MM, IC Spire RA, Kimpton IC, Marriott Plat, et alia
Posts: 2,725
Originally Posted by UAVirgin View Post
Buy a TMobile SIM card on eBay. You can check their coverage here. TMobile cards are easier to get and tend to offer the best value than Cingular. TMo and Cingular are the only GSM carriers in the USA.
Having both, I can attest to TMobile coverage being SIGNIFICANTLY spottier than Cingular (which is now called AT&T, a case of the big fish spawning a small fish gobbling up bigger fish, gobbling up still bigger fish, gobbling up the big fish).

AT&T comes close to nationwide coverage (but still not as widespread as CDMA which, alas, is not GSM); the coverage map can be found here: http://www.cingular.com/coverageviewer/

AT&T has more than quadruple the number of cell towers. T-Mobile's network primarily emanated from what used to be Voicestream, which had under-invested in its network.

The proof is in these maps. While coverage in major cities tends to be ubiquitous in both cases, the difference quickly becomes apparent. Take a look at the most densely populated state in the country (New Jersey). Zoom in a few levels. You'll see T-Mobile's coverage looks like a kid with chicken pox. A bunch of green spots but these spots are not continuous. There is "dead zone" (or "one-bar if you're lucky" area) in-between most of the spots. Most curiously, when you travel along major highways, turnpikes and Interstates, the situation is the same. Simply put, if you drive, you should expect to have areas with no service, and you should expect dropped calls.

Look at AT&T's coverage. It looks like someone spilled many cans of orange paint ... also you'll note significant areas of 3G coverage. And look along all the major Interstates and Turnpikes ... they tend to be in completely dark-orange ("best coverage") state.

Don't believe me ... believe the maps. And when a densely-populated state like NJ has AT&T being way way better than T-Mobile, just imagine when you move into the bigger and less-densely populated states!

Also, make sure your phone is a tri-mode or better, a quad-mode phone. While most of the world uses 900 and 1800, US uses 850 and 1900. Tmobile until recently used only 1900, but has been rolling out 850 as well. If you have a standard European handset, you're SOL. 1900 (like 1800) is a frequency that is dense and good for cities; 850 (like 900) generally covers larger, rural areas, but with lower density. T-Mobile's lack of 850 coverage is a prime reason for spotty coverage outside of cities.

----
Another FTer told me I am incorrect about AT&T being the new name of Cingular:

I read your post about the USA SIM cards and you have it backwards....Cingular bought AT&T so you can no longer get an AT&T branded phone. www.attwireless.com redirects to www.cingular.com.

Might want to edit your post...thought I'd give you a heads up. Take care
I stand by my assertion.

Cingular did indeed buy AT&T (Wireless) ... but now AT&T (the long distance business) has bought Cingular and is renaming it itself AT&T! Look on the top of www.cingular.com ... "Cingular is the now the new AT&T" ...

Cingular did buy AT&T wireless. That's why your AT&T brand name was going away, a process that had been taking 3 years, and has now changed course 180 degrees.

However, Cingular was owned by BellSouth, which got bought by SBC, which also bought AT&T, and renamed itself AT&T. Confusing? Sure.

SBC Communications (formerly Southwestern Bell), bought the long distance part of AT&T, and renamed itself AT&T. SBC (AT&T) then bought Bell South, which owned Cingular, which owned the former AT&T mobile business.

You get the picture?

So now that SWB (calling itself AT&T, which it owns, including the brand name) owns BellSouth which owns Cingular which owns AT&T Mobile (but not the brand name), they have decided to reverse course and drop the Cingular brand name and call everything AT&T. Here's more detail:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/...n2356736.shtml

You should see the Cingular brand name disappearing over the next 6 months ...

If you want a more humorous view of this, Steven Colbert did a great job explaining the history:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5ZhxewK2aE

Or read Alice in Wonderland about putting Humpty Dumpty back together again :-)

Last edited by vsevolod4; Jan 26, 07 at 7:51 am Reason: Added clarification about AT&T.
vsevolod4 is offline  
Old Jan 25, 07, 5:25 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: DSM
Programs: "I COME FROM Des Moines. Somebody had to." -- Bill Bryson
Posts: 1,134
I personally use Cingular and find it to have great coverage. I pointed you to TMobile because it is much easier to get SIM cards for TMo USA on eBay. Typically you have to go to a Cingular store to get a Cingular prepaid SIM and that costs about $25US.

I know that TMo recently implemented a roaming deal with Cingular 850mhz but I am not sure if/how that works with the TMo prepaid.
UAVirgin is offline  
Old Jan 25, 07, 6:03 pm
  #11  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: n.y.c.
Posts: 13,372
Originally Posted by UAVirgin View Post
I know that TMo recently implemented a roaming deal with Cingular 850mhz but I am not sure if/how that works with the TMo prepaid.
T-mobile recently added roaming coverage to prepaid accounts (it was previously unavailable).

http://www.t-mobile.com/coverage/cov...repaidfaq.aspx
nerd is offline  
Old Jan 25, 07, 11:02 pm
  #12  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Posts: 11,595
T-Mo To Go (pre-paid) SMS pricing:

$0.10 to send / $0.05 to receive in the US and Canada;
$0.35 to send and $0.05 to receive everywhere else

Int'l Calling Rates:

Country or region Charge
Canada and Mexico $0.40 plus airtime per minute
Puerto Rico $0.30 plus airtime per minute
Guam $0.80 plus airtime per minute
Jamaica and island countries $0.80 plus airtime per minute
Tuvalu and Vanuatu Islands $5.00 plus airtime per minute
All other countries $1.50 plus airtime per minute


Better to get a calling card.
transpac is offline  
Old Jan 27, 07, 4:23 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: New York City/NY22
Programs: AA Platinum 2.3MM (Lifetime PLT)
Posts: 5,110
Another Approach

Originally Posted by Humshee View Post
OK, so I've searched this thread and found lots of information on obtaining a US SIM card for my UK phone to use on a forthcoming trip to the US. I just need a little more advice. I will be transiting at JFK. I will then be spending time in PR, GA, and AL. What would be the best service provider for this trip? Is there one that offers better coverage for this?

Also, I've seen some US SIM cards available for sale on ebay. Is there any disadvantage to purchasing this was rather then directly from the store (apart from the obvious/usual ebay risks)? Otherwise, is there somewhere at JFK to purchase one? If not, it would be ideal to be able to have this delivered to me in the UK so I can activate immediatly on arrival at JFK. I will mainly be using the SIM to text abroad so heaps of minutes is not a priority (however I will be making some calls).

Thanks in advance for your infomation!
I think you need to get past the idea of using your GSM phone in the United States. Personally, I have a separates phone for Europe and this country.

Why? In Europe, I am a subscriber to Orange. That gets me good coverage.

In the U.S., where I live, I am a subscriber to Verizon Wireless, http://www.verizonwireless.com often considered the best carrier in the country. Unfortunately, it is also generally the most expensive carrier in the country.

Here is a link to information about VZW prepaid service: http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/s...PrepayOverview
Landing Gear is offline  
Old Jan 27, 07, 5:38 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: DSM
Programs: "I COME FROM Des Moines. Somebody had to." -- Bill Bryson
Posts: 1,134
Originally Posted by Landing Gear View Post
I think you need to get past the idea of using your GSM phone in the United States. Personally, I have a separates phone for Europe and this country.
Landing Gear I just can not agree with your statement. You need to use two different phones is because Verizon uses CDMA and Orange uses GSM. VZW works only in the good ole USA while GSM works virtually everywhere. While we don't know the OP's phone, we have all assumed that proper homework was done and the OP has either a tri or quad band GSM phone that works in the USA.

Going with Verizon prepaid would set the OP back at least $125 for a phone. Mighty expensive IMO. Mighty expensive when a Tmobile SIM card on eBay with $30 credit goes for approx. $10 including shipping.
UAVirgin is offline  
Old Jan 27, 07, 9:26 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Honolulu
Programs: UA PA, *S (UA)
Posts: 245
And, as long as you are in a major metropolitan area, T-mo's coverage is really not that bad. I'm using T-Mo prepaid (obtained sim from E-Bay for $8 shipped) in Honolulu and it's great. Btw, if you add a $100 refill (obtainable by email from cheapphonecards.com for about $92 with coupon code "cheap") to a T-Mo prepaid account, you get at least 1000 minutes, plus your airtime validity is extended for one year from the date you refill with the $100 pin. Pretty hard to beat that deal, imo.
mongatu is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: