Using Aussie mobile phones in the US

Discussion in 'Your Questions' started by Blackcat, Mar 18, 2007.

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  1. Blackcat

    Blackcat Junior Member

    Feb 21, 2007
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    The family and I will be travelling in the US for a month in July and I've been told that, rather than using international roaming for my mobile in the US (I'm a Telstra mobile customer), it would be cheaper to get a prepaid US phone account (presumably by buying a new SIM for the prepaid account in the US and loading it into my phone).

    I expect to use the mobile a bit in the US (contacting friends in the US, calling the rest of my family if we split up while there, SMS'g further friends I'll be meeting in Europe after leaving the US, etc.) so I'll be keen to minimise costs.

    Does anyone have any advice or suggestions on the best way to manage the "mobile" in the states?
     

  2. Maca44

    Maca44 Established Member

    Sep 2, 2005
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    I purchased a Cingular sim card for use in and around Seattle and Washington State, however, when I crossed the boarder into Canada it was all 'Rogers' and my cingular didn't have any coverage so I had to revert back to my Australian Telstra card which is expensive. So do your homework before you buy one, and if you buy a card with say US$50 credit also check the fees associated with that purchase as they often slug you an authorisation fee or something similar. Get a card that works mostly in the area where you will be travelling, however, if you intend travelling all over the USA you might have a few problems. I have used AT&T before and they were okay, but I seem to recall AT&T being bought out by another large telco, but could be wrong on that.
     
  3. Flashback

    Flashback Senior Member

    Oct 29, 2006
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    Otherwise if you're able to get internet access reguarly, that can be a nice way to make calls using a VoIP provider and the X-Lite software on your PC (if you are travelling with one). I ended up opting for this option in Hong Kong rather than getting a prepaid sim, but I had internet connectivity in most places I did business, most importantly in my hotel room. YMMV obviously :rolleyes:
     
  4. NM

    NM
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    I'll second Maca44's suggestion. Just make sure your Aussie phone is capable of operating on the USA 1900MHz GSM band (look for the term tri-band of quad-band in the feature list of your phone). I have found T-Mobile coverage is reasonable for GSM in most major cities. But if you are travelling outside the major cities, then GSM coverage is going to be very sporadic.

    International roaming is very expensive, especially for receiving calls in USA and making international calls.

    Another option is a phone card that can be used from any public phone. But then you have to stop and find a public phone, cannot take incoming calls, no SMS option and you don't have your phone book to use.
     
  5. Soundguy

    Soundguy Member

    Jun 15, 2006
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    Yes, as others have said a US SIM card is definitely the way to go for making calls using a triband mobile phone within the USA. But don't try to call overseas (outside the USA) with it as the cost is very high (US$2+ per min), not much short of Tesltra international roaming which is mega-bucks.

    For overseas calls from the USA your choices are VOIP or using Walmart type phonecards from a regular wired phone.
     
  6. serfty

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    VoIP is generally a good idea, but I wouldn't bother in HKG where you can get a prepaid SIM that costs ~4¢ per minute to call an Oz landline or ~25¢ per minute to call an Oz Mobile number. :shock:
     
  7. serfty

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  8. Leecy

    Leecy Junior Member

    Aug 20, 2007
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    Hi there,

    I was just wondering, I have a Samsung Z510 (3G) with Telstra and was wondering if this is going to work in the US? I'm not too fussed about cost as I won't be using it much, it will only be to let my parents know that I'm safe and stuff.

    Unfortunately I don't have a normal GSM phone anymore, and I was wondering if this would be sufficient as I don't really want to fuss around with a pre-paid sim and fiddle around with numbers and such.

    If you could help, I would be very grateful.

    Thanks,
    Elise
     
  9. moa999

    moa999 Senior Member

    Jun 23, 2003
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    Checking the specs:
    Networks: UMTS / GSM 900 / GSM 1800 / GSM 1900
    (Assumedly UMTS 2100)

    So it will roam onto any US GSM networks in the GSM 1900 spectrum - most likely Sprint or T-Mobile. Just need to ensure your roaming is switched on with Telstra
     
  10. Leecy

    Leecy Junior Member

    Aug 20, 2007
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    Thank you so much for your help, I really appreciate it. :)

    That defintely puts my mind at ease, I'll give Telstra a call before I go (that's not until January anyway), so I'll definitely be prepared. I have never gone overseas before, so at least that sorta crosses something off my list! :mrgreen:

    Thank you once again,

    Elise
     
  11. dot

    dot Active Member

    Mar 2, 2007
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    but dont be concerned about seeing references to AT&T Mobile - Cingular have rebranded to AT&T!

    In my experience, they have the best GSM coverage in the US (the Sprint/Nextel CDMA network is bigger again, but your phone wont work on it), but it still sucks compared to the coverage we enjoy in Oz with Telstra, Optus or even Vodafone.
     
  12. dot

    dot Active Member

    Mar 2, 2007
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    #12 dot, Aug 20, 2007
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2007
    The Comedy Channel in the us did a terrific parody of the AT&T rebranding efforts - sad thing is that it is all true!

    See the Youtube video

    Doh! - the video has been pulled from youtube - I should have checked before posting the link. Sorry guys.
     
  13. NM

    NM
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    And make sure your phone charger is designed for 110V operation as well as 240V.
     
  14. Leecy

    Leecy Junior Member

    Aug 20, 2007
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    Thanks for that advice, I have checked and it is dual voltage (thank god!), so I am fine in that respect. :cool:
     
  15. mainly tailfirst

    Oct 10, 2006
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    Sprint no longer supports GSM 1900. The only GSM carriers with global reach in the US are T-Mobile and AT&T (Cingular + old AT&T Wireless).
    Any triband phone (1900 capable) will be fine. Quad band (850MHz) is not so necessary but useful if you pick a T-Mobile plan.

    UMTS (e.g. HSPDA on AT&T) in the US is different to Aust where a different frequency is used (1900MHz). In any case, pre-paid and UMTS are pretty much mutally exclusive - AT&T want you to sign up to a large contract before they make it economical to use.

    My wife uses a prepaid with T-mobile that she is reasonably happy with. $50 prepaid with 6month time limit. I have AT&T, who have much better coverage.

    One caveat with mobile use here, aways remember that you get charged ("use up your minutes" in US cell-phone speak) for *incoming* calls. So even if you never make a call, you can still run out of credit. So think of the US mobile phone system as similar to Europe (although with about 100 countries). You have a 'home' region where calls are cheaper. Outside that region you are 'roaming' and get charged when people ring you.

    By and large the US mobile system is annoyingly backward. Their billing system is just plain odd (for historical reasons) and their insistance on cripling phone features is unbelieveable. Much like Australian banks, I don't know why people put up with it.

    mt
     
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