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Cell Phones in Europe...Is it that Easy?

Cell Phones in Europe...Is it that Easy?

Old Jul 20, 07, 1:54 pm
  #1  
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Cell Phones in Europe...Is it that Easy?

I'm headed for my first of many business trips to Europe (Switzerland & UK). The company cell phones are not going to work, so I've been checking out my alternatives.

I can buy an unlocked GSM Quad-Band "World Phone" on e-bay for a decent price and according to other travel boards all I have to do is buy a SIM card for the phone and I'm in business.

Is it really that easy or am I just fooling myself?

Thanks
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Old Jul 20, 07, 2:15 pm
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It is that easy. It's actually that easy here in the US as well, people just don't realize it. Prepaid really is pretty simple.

Also; remember that incoming calls on GSM phones in Europe are free, unlike here.

You have other options too; you could just buy a sim/phone kit in the countries you are and save the cost of a phone off Ebay, but for the long run having your own phone is often better.

And; you don't need a quadband phone, a triband phone is sufficient. The quadband phones were made so they could work on some North American providers. Europe is all on GSM 900 and 1800, so even an old dualband European phone will work just fine.
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Old Jul 20, 07, 2:34 pm
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It's that easy. I know Scott just said that, just adding in that it's really that easy.

The only difficulties may be getting the menus in english once you put the new sim in if that matters, but any local should be able to help you make the changes.

And you don't need a quad band phone, just bands for the country you are visiting.

It may be even easier if you already have a gsm phone with the right bands, just unlock that one if it's locked and put in the prepaid sim card. You may not even need two phones.
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Old Jul 20, 07, 2:36 pm
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I don't know where you're going, but Scott's suggestion to buy a kit once you get where you'e going isn't bad idea. I'm not that crazy about buying stuff on eBay; I much prefer to see and touch it before I take it home.

Here in Spain Boulanger is selling a dual-band, unlocked Nokia or Motorola phone for 39EUR and triband Motorola for 49EUR. That might be cheaper than the eBay route. I'm sure wherever you're going there will be comparable deals.

Edited to add: MediaMarkt (like BestBuy all over Europe) is selling several prepay phones at great prices. Alcatel, Motorola, Sagem handsets for 29-39EUR with 100EUR of calls and a SIM card. Pretty tough to beat that deal.

Last edited by alanw; Jul 20, 07 at 2:48 pm
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Old Jul 20, 07, 2:44 pm
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As others have said it is very easy, but

It is that easy get a unlocked phone and go. The key is unlocked so you can use any SIM card you decide to get, or possibly many SIM cards. If you only need one card it gets even easier since that will be your phone number, I have been doing this for years and I actually use a different SIM card for different countries. This can be a pain since your number changes. But since you are only going to be in 2 countries maybe a single SIM is good for you.
Another option is to see if your US carrier can supply you a phone. I use verizon and they have a program to supply you a phone for use out of the country. They even have a couple phones that are TRI-Band GSM and CDMA so it works here and there (YEs, they supply a SIM card).

The best part about getting a Quad Band unlocked phone is that you could just move the SIM card frm your current carrier into it. Now you use the same phone all over the world.
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Old Jul 20, 07, 5:44 pm
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Thanks to everyone for their comments. Maybe I'll try the SIM/Phone kit on my first trip and see how it works. And if the company waits to invest technology in this project, then the E-Bay option may be the best.

See ya out there somewhere.
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Old Jul 20, 07, 7:22 pm
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Originally Posted by jwahl1 View Post
I'm headed for my first of many business trips to Europe (Switzerland & UK). The company cell phones are not going to work, so I've been checking out my alternatives.

I can buy an unlocked GSM Quad-Band "World Phone" on e-bay for a decent price and according to other travel boards all I have to do is buy a SIM card for the phone and I'm in business.

Is it really that easy or am I just fooling myself?

Thanks
It all depends on what your needs are. Let's say you arrive at ZRH (Kloten Airport, Zurich), go down to the shopping center and you'll find stores from the three major Swiss carriers.

Suppose you buy a pre-paid SIM card from Orange Suisse. That will work fine in your unlocked phone--until you cross the border. If you take it to the U.K., it will not allow you to make or receive calls from the United States.

If getting a new SIM card, with a new telephone number, for a new charge is no problem for you, then indeed, it's no problem.

[Note: the information on Orange Suisse is a couple of years old. I have no need for pre-paid service in Europe since I maintain a European account all year.]

At the Bastille Day street fair last week, they were passing around flyers from http://www.call-in-europe.com/ Perhaps this may be of some use to you.
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Old Jul 20, 07, 9:39 pm
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I am currently visiting London from the US on holiday and it is quite easy to get a European SIM card here. In fact, Virgin Mobile SIM cards are FREE and include GBP 5 of call credit to start. Then you can add more time by topping up at many different liquor or phone stores. I got mine at the Carphone Warehouse, a major chain of mobile phone sellers.

Be wary of purchasing an unlocked phone off of eBay. If the phone is stolen, it might not work in Europe, as the European providers subscribe to a system that will let a phone owner report the IMEI (serial number) of the stolen phone and it won't work on most of the GSM networks in Western Europe.
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Old Jul 20, 07, 10:48 pm
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I already have an unlocked triband phone that works in both NZ and North america (with different sim cards) my question is can I buy one sim card for Europe? (I am going to UK, France, Italy, Greece and possibly Spain. ) Would I need a sim card for each country?
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Old Jul 21, 07, 5:47 am
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You can just buy one SIM card and use it in most of the countries in Europe. However, your charges for using the card outside of the home country would be higher.

In the UK, just pick up a Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go card. It's worked well for me for the last 3 years. These are free and include GBP 5 of airtime.
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Old Jul 21, 07, 5:02 pm
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Originally Posted by juanvaldez View Post
You can just buy one SIM card and use it in most of the countries in Europe. However, your charges for using the card outside of the home country would be higher.
Sorry, but no. Some phone companies do not allow roaming on pre-paid accounts.

If you intend to buy one pre-paid SIM card, make sure your carrier allows roaming.
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Old Jul 21, 07, 5:02 pm
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Originally Posted by ScottC View Post
Also; remember that incoming calls on GSM phones in Europe are free, unlike here.

Incoming calls are ONLY free in the COUNTRY OF ORIGIN OF THE SIM! Step outsde that country and you will be hit by extortionate roaming charges.

Originally Posted by juanvaldez View Post
I am currently visiting London from the US on holiday and it is quite easy to get a European SIM card here. In fact, Virgin Mobile SIM cards are FREE and include GBP 5 of call credit to start.
Check if you can top them up abroad.

Originally Posted by Kanada goose View Post
I already have an unlocked triband phone that works in both NZ and North america (with different sim cards) my question is can I buy one sim card for Europe? (I am going to UK, France, Italy, Greece and possibly Spain. ) Would I need a sim card for each country?
See the sticky thread on european simcard or use search function.

The answer to your question is YES!

Originally Posted by juanvaldez View Post
You can just buy one SIM card and use it in most of the countries in Europe. However, your charges for using the card outside of the home country would be higher.
BINGO!

In the UK, just pick up a Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go card. It's worked well for me for the last 3 years. These are free and include GBP 5 of airtime.
Vodafone roam and can be topped up using any vodaphone affiliate shop in Europe buying credits or with your registered CC via phone or online.

Orange Switzerland can be topped up online from abroad using foreign CC. Not cheap to use.

Look at getting a prepaid lichtenstein, Jersey or other roaming free prepaid. They can be bought on line.

Also - to all who asks this (and no I'm not a moderator) - feel free to learn how to use the search tool and please notice that there is a sticky about simcards in europe. Read it! You might pick up a thing or two.



/E
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Old Jul 21, 07, 5:20 pm
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NOte also if you are going to the UK that of the four networks, the level of coverage varies with a tendency to (best) Vodafone - O2 - Orange - Tmobile.

Of course, if you're staying in the major cities it will make little difference, but a Tmobile SIM in the far northern parts of Britain is as much use as a chocolate teapot!
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Old Jul 22, 07, 3:22 pm
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I would get a SIM for every country,

because your host in London is not going to want to call a Swiss cell number to contact you when you are just down the road at the Pub etc,

Get a local SIM so its a local call for the people you are dealing with....

Rally
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Old Jul 22, 07, 3:29 pm
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Originally Posted by rally View Post
I would get a SIM for every country,

because your host in London is not going to want to call a Swiss cell number to contact you when you are just down the road at the Pub etc,

Get a local SIM so its a local call for the people you are dealing with....

Rally
If you are using a cell phone for business, no one expects you to have a separate number for each country. Do you actually think European executives carry a dozen SIM cards? Moreover, if you travel, how would anyone know which number you were using?

Calls from one western European country to another don't seem to be very expensive.

I print my French number on my European business cards and I have never had an issue when giving this number to someone in another country.
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