A friend of mine in Malaysia is about to fly to California. He wants a pre-paid SIM. All I could find him was a T-Mobile SIM available on Amazon.com. Can he walk into a T-Mobile store in the US and buy one there? I know an option is to buy a pre-paid phone, but he wants to use his own phone.
Since prepay options aren't as common in the US as they are the norm in Asia, they don't get advertised much.
I'd suspect if they walked into a T-Mobile store, it might be more hassle than its worth trying to get a prepay SIM. Probably get sold on buying a phone package, etc.. Probably can eventually get through there, or an AT&T wireless store, since they are GSM as well.
OOTH, I see them all over Target/BestBuy. Maybe even the grocery stores (although I'd admit there that I've seen the prepay phones, didn't look close enough to see if just the SIM cards were there). T-Mobile & AT&T and their roaming partners will all have them.
I did buy my mom a cheap GSM cell-phone and prepay SIM from Target a year or so ago. It is easier to find a $10/phone with prepay time than just a prepay SIM card though.
With T-Mo anyhow, for $20 or so you can get both the SIM and a cheap phone at a mass-market vendor like WalMart, Target or K-Mart. That's where I get mine (I lose/break phones). While I haven't tried using the SIM in the phone branded by another vendor, I have switched SIMs between various T-Mo-locked phones without any problem, and ISTM that it ought to work in any unlocked phone.
Another friend was just there (San Jose) and they (AT&T and T-Mobile) wouldn't sell him a SIM, said he had to buy the prepaid phone. But after some digging I found just a SIM on their website (AT&T and T-Mobile). So when friend #2 goes to San Jose he'll know the SKU of the plain ole SIM.
You can get a prepaid SIM and activation card by going into any corporate T-Mobile store. It will cost you $10 (plus tax where applicable.)
You can also go into an AT&T corporate store and get a "GoPhone" SIM also.
for details about prepaid in the USA (as well as many other countries.) Besides T-Mobile and AT&T there are also several "MVNOs" that use either the T-Mobile or AT&T network. Some require that you buy a phone from them to use their service others not. TracFone and Net10 absolutely require that you use their handsets since their handsets are proprietary and cannot use other SIMs.
You can get either pay as you go plans or monthly plans that include data or unlimited talk or unlimited text. Both T-Mobile and AT&T offer several prepaid plans.
I'm with the AT&T clerk on this one, for I am confused as to how he could have a SIM card without a telephone number. What was the objection, that he didn't want a cell phone number geographiccally assigned to San Jose?
Did T-Mobile sell him a SIM card also assigned to existing telephone number geographically assigned to Malaysia?
For GSM cell phone users, is one SIM card per telephone number typical? Is GSM engineered to allow multiple activated SIMs per telephone number?
The clerk was a moron. They sell you a SIM (or a prepaid phone with a SIM), then activate it and assign you a telephone number. That's how prepaid service works in the US.
This is exactly what I did in an AT&T store in NYC last month. He said he could only assign me a number in the NYC area -- if I wanted one upstate where I live I'd have had to call 611 later and have them change my number.
SIMs aren't tied to phone numbers. That relationship is made at the switch. That's why you can move an existing number to a new phone, and change the number on an existing phone.
Interesting ... in Poland, at least with GSM provider Orange (aka Centertel), each starter-SIM you buy comes with phone number already assigned to it and printed right on its blisterpack and on its credit-card-sized card-holder (right alongside that SIM's PUK number, for that matter :-) ).
That's pretty common in Europe, but it's a marketing thing, not a technical one. You will almost certainly find that if you have an existing mobile phone number you want to port to your new phone, they can arrange it without changing the SIM.
As in many other things it depends on where you initiate service. In the US and Canada generally you'll buy the kit with the SIM and when you activate the service a number will be assigned. In many other countries the number is already pre-assigned to the SIM kit. In Europe that's generally the way prepaid is handled.
Pre-assigned telephone numbers is terribly wasteful. Furthermore, it prevents re-use of the line number for a very long time.
My earlier technical questions about the GSM standard remain unanswered:
Can a SIM card be used with multiple telephone numbers simultaneously? If the telephone number isn't used as the account number, then I don't see why not. If an active receiver is registered on the GSM network based on the SIM card number itself, I don't see why not. In GSM, a phone number is translated into a SIM card number for routing purposes, right?
Can a telephone line number be used with multiple SIM cards? This situation seems appropriate for travel, so that the traveler obtains a SIM card locally to obtain a suitable plan for the area he is visiting or conducting business in and doesn't have to inform his contacts of a temporary contact number. There'd have to be a caveat against simultaneously activating multiple SIMs with the same telephone number if more than one shows up as a GSM receiver registered on the network at the same time and which registration is actually privileged to receive service.
For what it's worth, I bought one at Siem Reap airport in Cambodia. $5 USD for the SIM, $1 of talk time, and 1 GB (?) of data. Only trouble was it only worked in the city center. Forget about out by the temples.
Outside North America, mobiles are in a different numbering space from landlines, and numbers are variable length, so there's no shortage. As far as I can tell, assigning the number when the SIM is activated happens primarily in NANP countries.
No. There are multi-SIM phones, though, for people who travel a lot. If you want people to be able to call you on any of several numbers, you can probably figure out how to do that.
A SIM is assigned to a specific network. If you know how to read the serial numbers on the SIM, you can tell which network it is. For example, AT&T SIMs all start with 890124 and T-Mo (US) SIMs atart with 890126.
No. I suppose you could imagine a hypothetical network in which a carrier would let you do that, but why would they? If you have two phones, you have two phone numbers.
I once spoke to a clerk at a T-Mobile store, because I wanted to find out about replacing the lost back on the phone I had or what it would take to replace the phone. He told me that you can use any T-Mobile sim in any T-Mobile phone, so in my case, where my phone is on a regular account, I can pull the sim out of it, and put it in any T- Mobile phone, including a T-Mobile prepaid phone, and the new phone will be recognized by T-Mobile's network as the phone that sim card is assigned to.
So if his phone will work on T-Mobile, buying a pre-paid phone, getting it set up, then moving the sim card to his old phone should allow him to use it on the pre-paid number in the U.S. When he goes back to Europe, switching the sim card back should put him back on his old number. At least that's how I understand it.
Once the ambiguities in this exposition have been resolved correctly (*which* of the two SIMs does "the sim card" refer to each time? what does "it" refer to each time?), this advice is correct. Details:
Proviso: the existing phone must work on US T-Mobile's frequencies. Then: buying a pre-paid T-Mobile phone with SIM and setting that up, then moving that new T-Mobile SIM into the visitor's existing phone, visitor will have a local US T-Mobile phone number through that phone.
Later, back home, after switching SIMs again so that original SIM is in visitor's existing phone, that phone will once again revert to the original or "old" number.
But it should be possible to snag a pre-paid SIM alone, without cheap phone to go with it, more economically, no?
Cheers, -- tlvp (who's still hoping for answer to an analogous question for use in Canada -- Vancouver, BC, more exactly -- for a coupla' weeks' GSM *data* usage exclusively).