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International Cell Phone Services

Aug 17, 2007
If you are one who does a lot of international traveling, then you will want your clients to be able to reach you from wherever you might be in the world. But what are some of the options you have when it comes to maintaining your current level of cell phone services worldwide? Do you have to buy a new plan? Do you have to pay outrageous rates? Just what is available?

First of all, the country where you live is very important when it comes to international cell phone services. Most of the countries have one standard in cellular communications known as Global System for Mobile Communications or GSM. However, the United States did not follow the GSM standard and allowed competing wire carriers to develop their own standards. So, if you are coming from the United States and want to get cell phone coverage in another part of the world with your existing equipment, you probably will not be able to do it.

So let's get back to our options for international cell phone service. It is important to understand that the key issues to having effective international cell phone service is that you must have a phone that will handle the frequencies plus a service that is compatible within the country you are communicating from. If you have a phone set that handles GSM service, then your phone will be compatible in at least 212 countries worldwide, as far as hardware is concerned. The only other item you will have to be concerned with is the service plan.

The GSM frequencies operate worldwide typically at 900 MHz but more and more the cell phones are operating at 1800 MHz. There are some GSM phone services in the United States and Canada but they work at 1900 and 850 MHz and therefore are incompatible with the rest of the world. That is why more and more we are starting to see tri-band phones being sold that are compatible with both international and North American GSM frequencies. The Nokia 3220 is a good example as it will handle both the 1800 and 1900 MHz frequency bands.

But what about the international cell phone service? If you get one of the tri-band phones you can get a SIM card that can be used in multiple countries. These SIM cards are somewhat like pre-paid phone service. You put the card in your GSM-capable phone and have international roaming coverage from wherever the card is valid.

When choosing an international cell phone SIM card for your GSM phone, there are things you should consider when making a decision on which SIM card to buy. First, what is the initial calling credit (how long before you have to recharge)? Of course you should know the rate structure of both the incoming and outgoing calls. Next you should make sure that your phone and SIM card you are purchasing will be valid for the countries you intend to travel.

Since you are not going to be global roaming with your home cell phone service, you will want to let everyone there know how they can reach you by your new number. You can also change the greeting on the voice mailbox of your regular home cell phone service telling your callers your new access number while you are out of the country.

While you are using SIM cards that will be exchanged or replaced, make sure that you save everything (phone numbers, memos, notes, etc.) into your cell phone handset and not the SIM card. If you save any information on your SIM card, then the information will be unavailable whenever you exchange for a new card in another country.
About the Author
This article can also be accessed in portuguese language from the News Article section of page www.polomercantil.com.br/celular.php
Roberto Sedycias works as IT consultant for www.PoloMercantil.com.br
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