1. Why can't I use my current cell phone overseas?
The U.S. is actually behind the rest of the world when it comes to cell phone technology. Most cell phones in the U.S. are not compatible with the frequency or bandwidth used overseas. To get technical, only a tri-band phone (known as a GSM phones) with a 900, 1800 or 1900 frequency phone will work overseas. You can buy tri-band phones in the U.S. but they are generally more expensive, harder to find and only a few local networks sell them. All those big telco's you know and love will only sell you what's called a "locked GSM phone" meaning that you are locked into using that provider's service and there's no actual key you can use to unlock it. That translates to huge roaming fees and a big bill at the end of the month. You could use one of their phones, but why would you? An "unlocked" phone is what you want, one that isn't tied to a particular network, so you can choose any network or provider and the service that suits you best.
2. How does a GSM phone work?
Cell phone users need to know what a SIM (Subscriber Information Module) card is, because it is the SIM card that operates a GSM phone. A SIM card is a small encoded chip that is inserted into the back on the phone, containing your unique account information including the telephone number and your personal address book. SIM cards are removable, interchangeable and can be purchased for individual countries or for multiple countries (i.e. a global roaming SIM card).
3. Is it true that I can get free in-coming calls, free text messages and local call rates overseas (without roaming charges)?
Believe it or not, what we consider as normal in the U.S. is to pay for the in-coming calls. Your friends across the pond have it much easier. In-coming calls on cell phones are actually free in almost every country in the world (with the exception of the U.S., Mexico, Canada, China, the Bahamas, Kuwait, Singapore, Hong Kong and parts of Russia). Instead of paying for in-coming calls, try Telestial, which has free in-coming calls in 40 of the most popular destinations around the world. You'll pay the local cell phone call rates in most destinations, without being penalized with exorbitant international roaming charges. With Telestial's Explorer SIM card, customers can also receive free text messages plus family and friends of Telestial customers can send free SMS text messages from www.telestial.com to Telestial Explorer subscribers overseas.
4. Do I need to sign a contract for my international cell service?
The beauty of owning an unlocked cell phone is that there are no contracts. SIM cards are pre-paid and can be purchased on a country by country basis. Alternatively, travelers can buy a global roaming SIM card which allows for usage in multiple countries. With Telestial's global roaming "Explorer" and "Passport" SIM cards, users have cell phone coverage in 100+ countries and can set up an auto-recharge facility with no need to go online or phone in to recharge the card. You can start with as little as $10 of air time credit.
5. Is it cheaper to rent or buy a phone?
Depending on the type and frequency of travel, purchasing an internationally compatible unlocked GSM cell phone is both affordable and practical. It is especially economical for people who travel overseas often and is certainly a cheaper and easier option than renting. Factors to be considered are the length of a trip, the purpose (business or leisure) and your budget. The down side of renting is being locked into paying the rental company's call rates, which can be as high as $5 per minute from some countries (plus many charge for in-coming calls). Purchasing a phone gives the freedom to choose a SIM card that suits your needs, without being tied to a particular network or provider. And, of course, the reality is that at the end of the rental period, you have to give back the phone whereas the price of purchasing it out right may not be much higher.
Purchasing also helps avoid additional administration each time you travel, including ordering, paying for shipping, always having different telephone numbers when you travel and the paranoia of keeping track of how much each call is costing. Add in the fact that you won't need to become familiar with a new handset every time you rent, and that you can loan it out to friends, family and colleagues, and you have some pretty compelling arguments in favor of purchasing. GSM phones start from as little as $99, which is a small investment to make if you are a frequent leisure or business traveler.
Telestial is a leading provider of deeply discounted international cell phones, pre-paid SIM cards for global coverage and other communications services that allow travelers to easily retain control over costs while staying in touch overseas. Unlike phone rental options, Telestial eliminates problems associated with incompatible cellular networks abroad or being tied to a U.S. network that charges exorbitant international rates. Working with providers worldwide, Telestial customers can get the same low local call rates that international residents would pay, plus the convenience of an enabled phone prior to arriving in an international destination. Telestial ensures affordable and simple international calling options for business or leisure with a wide selection of phone types and packages. For more information visit www.telestial.com