[telecom] My experience with cell phones overseas

From time to time in the digest we discuss using cell phones in other

countries. Discussions range from how to do it, how to contain costs, and people who apparently spend every waking moment on their phones and return home to $3,000 phone bills.

I have a personal cell phone though AT&T Wireless and my company provides me with a phone through Verizon Wireless. My first stop was Moscow. I was only there for about 90 minutes. Neither phone worked. I was able to get my iPod Touch working on the airport's free wifi by guessing at what the Russian language splash page wanted me to do.

My next stop was Singapore. Again, neither phone worked. Use of free wifi in Singapore requires registration. I didn't bother as they have plenty of free computers throughout the terminal.

My destination was Penang, Malaysia. Again, neither phone worked. I wasn't sure my Verizon phone would work, but sort of expected my AT&T phone to work. I'm supposed to have international on both phones.

I called AT&T and asked if they would unlock my phone and they did. I accomplished this by calling their international services number at +1 (800) 335-4685. It took only a few minutes and they were happy to do it. Next I went to a nearby mall and found a cell phone store. Per Malaysian law I had to provide my passport to buy a SIM card, but within 10 minutes I was talking and texting on a pre-paid SIM using my existing phone. Unlocked GSM phones are widely available here for reasonable prices (as low as $25 USD). I can refill my phone at the nearby 7-11 and the prices are reasonable.

I really think if you're going to be in country for a while, getting a local SIM is the way to go.

And speaking of which, it's been years since I've flown internationally. The new pre-landing ritual appears to be swapping out SIM cards.


Reply to
John Mayson
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Not to mean any disrespect, but any number of guides to using mobile services in other countries for the traveler from the US will tell you basic facts such as certain native carriers (like Verizon) will not work outside of a limited number of countries on its CDMA service and will only work if you have a device that is capable of using GSM networks which is what the majority of countries in the world use. Even if you do have a device that is capable of using foreign networks US carriers (GSM carriers as well) will not let you place calls unless you ask them to give you global roaming capability.

Reply to
Joseph Singer

None taken. I questioned if the phone would work, but someone back home insisted it would. Since I work for a global company with a lot of Americans traveling to this part of Malaysia I thought perhaps it was CDMA capable.

I did request global roaming on my AT&T phone and it still doesn't work. However I have found it easier and less expensive to use a local SIM card.

Reply to
John Mayson

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