TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Traveller Seeks Phone Advice

Re: Traveller Seeks Phone Advice

Steven M. Scharf (
Fri, 20 May 2005 18:20:51 GMT

D. Dude <> wrote in message

> Hi, I'm planning on traveling to the US and Europe in the near future
> so I'd appreciate some recommendations on which providers I should use
> for cell service and phone/calling cards.


See which compares 17 prepaid plans for
the United States. It's a great site, as it compares all aspects of
each plan, including coverage, minimums, roaming, per-minute charges,
daily access fees, per call surcharges, etc.. I'd say that even if it
wasn't my site!

The short answer is this:

For the U.S., get a TDMA service from .
They'll sell you a TDMA/AMPS phone, or you can pick up a used phone
very cheaply (look at for the first city you'll
be in in the U.S.). The used phone must have previously been active
on AT&T's TDMA network (not Cingular's). There is no charge to
activate your own phone, and you can buy time on-line. Don't worry
about which area code you get. Minutes do not expire.

The other good option in the U.S. is CallPlus TDMA
( While they have a higher per-minute
rate, and a higher minimum, they do include international long distance to
many countries at no extra charge (see Same deal regarding
handsets, they'll sell you one, or you can use an AT&T TDMA handset.

What about GSM in the U.S.?

GSM service in the U.S. is not great, with large areas still having no
coverage. SIM cards are quite expensive, as are prepaid minutes. If
you go the GSM route, avoid T-Mobile, and go with Cingular, and be
certain to get a phone that supports 800 Mhz and 1900 Mhz GSM (800 Mhz
is sometimes called 850 Mhz).

What about CDMA in the U.S.?

Coverage is excellent, but prepaid CDMA is more expensive than prepaid TDMA.


For Europe, the best deal is to obtain an unlocked dual band (900/1800
Mhz) GSM phone, and then use Riiing. You didn't say where you are
located, you can see the Riiing product at

GSM Phone for Europe and Riiing

Triband GSM phones (900/1800 & 1900) are very cheap now, because they
are not well-suited for the U.S. anymore because most GSM is at 800
Mhz. See for
a good deal on a tri-band GSM phone. For U.S. GSM use you want a dual
band 800/1900 Mhz handset, or a quad-band (800/1900 & 900/1800). The
quad-band GSM phones are still pretty expensive.

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