travel advice & savings
 
RAIL PASSES GUARANTEED LOWEST PRICES at RAILPASS.COM Click Here
5 replies
Info on cell phone useage abroad
mr2step
mr2step's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 31
Member: 5375
Joined: 01/14/2007
User offline. Last seen 14 years 22 weeks ago.

[=“times new roman”][=“3”]Hey all. I have been having a debate at home about using our cell phones overseas in the netherlands and luxembourg this summer. After searching this site, I did not find what I was looking for and was hoping someone might have some first hand experience on using their cell phones overseas in Europe. My wife is hell bent on using her cell phone and NOT getting a calling card so that is not an option. She called our carrier (Sprint) and supposedly got an international plan for a month. However, I am under the impression that you need a special card for your cell that is dependent on what country(s) you visit. Also, your phone needs to be GSM enabled and quad band (whatever that means).  Does anyone know what in the heck these mean and can straighten it out. I did find an alternative from using Sprint on a website called www.pingo.com but I need more info about using our cell phones first.
My wife was told she could just use the cell phone but that seems over simplified. Can anyone help us out??
[/][/]

Seva
Seva's profile picture
Eurotripper
EurotripperEurotripperEurotripperEurotripperEurotripper
Eurotrip Points: 741
Member: 91
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 12 years 28 weeks ago.

Cell phone usage abroad is a tricky matter. Just to give you some guidance, for your phone to work abroad
1. it must have ability to connect to wireless networks over there and
2. those network should be able to recognise it as a legitimate device with certain phone number and billing information

Your call to Sprint had, in principle, solved the second issue. Sprint should have registered your phone with its roaming partners, including at least one operator in each European country.

Your (potential) problem is this. There are several different kinds of networks. Vast majority of all cell phones are designed to work with just one type of network. Virtually all cell phone providers in Europe use GSM type networks, while Sprint uses a CDMA type network. Consequently your Sprint phone may not even have physical capability to connect to a network in Europe. (Note that term “quadband” normally refers to GSM phones that can run on different frequency networks but still of GSM type.) Sprint sells special “international” phones which have both GSM and CDMA capability, but those are fairly expensive.

If you have or consider getting one of these, you should make sure you also have (or going to get) [=“2”]a [/][=”#000000”][=“2”]SIM (subscriber identity module) card, a little chip that goes inside a phone and is used to identify a phone on a GSM network. (Strictly speaking if you don’t have a SIM card from Spring, then there was nothing they could possibly have registered for roaming.)

When people are talking about different SIM cards for different countries they mean the following. If you’d have an “unlocked” (not coded for a particular provider) GSM headset you could get a local prepaid service from any local GSM provider in any country you visit. This way however you end up using a local number, not your US number, probably not what your wife wants.

[/][/][=”#000000”][=“2”]If you want to stick to your current phone number you need one SIM card and you must get it from Sprint.[/][/]
[=”#000000”][=“2”]
That pingo thing is completely different matter altogether. It’s a way of making cheaper international calls for less from your phone while still in the US. It has absolutely nothing to do with placing/receiving cell phone calls while abroad.

In fact if you plan to travel to more then one country and to make plenty of call it’s a very bad idea to rely on your cell phone. Your bill may end being higher then the cost of plane tickets. It’s much wiser to use local prepaid phonecards and use the cell as a backup if you must.

[/][/] [/align]

mr2step
mr2step's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 31
Member: 5375
Joined: 01/14/2007
User offline. Last seen 14 years 22 weeks ago.

Thanks for the help. After doing some more investigating and research, my wife and I decided to quit Sprint after contract runs out in August and go to Cingular (AT&T) because of their world wide accessibility. They have quad band phones and they are inherently GSM enabled which Sprint is not. We were able to score an international phone from family member so all we need to do is get a SIM card for the Netherlands once we get there. I also saw in places such as Office DEpot, they sell prepaid phones that I believe can work in international areas. While not 100% sure, it’s also worth checking out.
Cellular useage is somewhat confusing. I guess the bottom line is this, don’t go by what your cell phone company tells you. We called Sprint TWICE to verify our useage over there and were told we could use our phones with international service plan. What crap! Many thanks to all who have helped me out thus far. Hopefully everyone can learn from this post!

Seva
Seva's profile picture
Eurotripper
EurotripperEurotripperEurotripperEurotripperEurotripper
Eurotrip Points: 741
Member: 91
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 12 years 28 weeks ago.

Quote:
We were able to score an international phone from family member so all we need to do is get a SIM card for the Netherlands once we get there. I also saw in places such as Office DEpot, they sell prepaid phones that I believe can work in international areas. While not 100% sure, it’s also worth checking out.
Not so fast! Most of the cell handsets sold in the US are subsidized by respective cell phone companies. Consequently they are locked, that is programmed only to accept a SIM card from that company. (An easy way to test whether a phone is locked is to borrow a SIM from a different carrier and see if the phone would work.) AFAIK the only US provider that gives unlock codes to their customers is T-Mobile and it does so only after the contract was active for 90 days or more.
Quote:
don’t go by what your cell phone company tells you.
Exactly! That’s what message boards like this are for!

Viajante
Viajante's profile picture
New Member
New Member
Eurotrip Points: 32
Member: 5056
Joined: 01/03/2007
User offline. Last seen 13 years 39 weeks ago.

Go to Ebay. You can find global gsm sim cards and unlocked quad band gsm phones to use almost all over the world. 

Bigfoot
Bigfoot's profile picture
Traveler
TravelerTravelerTraveler
Eurotrip Points: 233
Member: 17735
Joined: 09/11/2009
User offline. Last seen 2 years 43 weeks ago.

Just buy a prepaid phone with simcard in the Netherlands, you can get them for 25 euros from shops like Hema, Kruidvat etc