INTERNATIONAL ROAMING TIPS & CONSIDERATIONS
Know these Roaming tips and you'll have a
lot fewer surprises while Roaming outside
- Phone Models:
When selecting an "Unlocked" GSM
phone for global use, make sure it is a "Quad-band"
model (850, 900, 1800 & 1900 MHz). That
gives you almost universal access to all
cellular networks around the world. However,
new bands are being introduced, so this situation
may change. A "Tri-band" phone
may work in some countries but potentially
not in all towns in those countries. "Dual-band"
phones work almost exclusively in North America.
- Voice Mail:
When you are calling your voice mail
US number from a foreign country,
enter the international calling Prefix
"+1" on GSM phones) before
number to access a US-based number,
if the phone called is roaming internationally.
In most GSM devices, holding down
the 0 key
will cause the + sign to appear,
it may the # key. "1" is
code for the US.
You need some foreign language skills to
use Local international cellular services
efficiently. Even if you have your prompts
switched to English, most messages beyond
the balance and refill access are still in
the host language. While some foreign carriers
offer English as an option, most do not.
Often, the concierge or someone else at your
hotel should be able to help. Be prepared.
Also, make sure you know. or ask for help,
how to change the language option of your
phone. It will be hard to guess when your
choices are in Arabic.
- Customer Service:
In most cases, calls to your own US cellular
service provider ("611"
normal customer service number) do
any charges. Check with your carrier
you leave to make sure. They may
to help with some of your roaming
in English. You may not be able to
US "800" number from another
so learn their "international
number, beforehand. The number for
Wireless is (908) 559-4899, for AT&T
it's (916) 843-4685. This is a free
if you use their phone.
- Preactivated Phones:
Some independent foreign cellular
offer pre-activated phones and SIM's
the convenience of tourists. Don't
- "Call Me Back":
Consider having one party call the
back, based on who has the cheapest
Some international phone suppliers
Free incoming calls.
- Long Distance Charges:
In some countries you may get a higher
for Long Distance for Roaming when
of your landing city. For example,
you can cross through the coverage
different cellular companies in a
200 km trip, each with different
and Long Distance fees.
- Extra Passport Photos:
Many countries require identification to
buy a local wireless phone or SIM. It would
also helpful to carry a few passport-size
photos (2" x 2") to attach to your
wireless application form. Activation is
normally immediate. Some retailers overlook
this requirement and others just don't want
to be bothered. In other areas you may only
be able to buy a Local SIM or phone at an
"official" store. Extra photos
are a also good idea for any foreign Visa's
that may be required.
- Activate International Roaming:
With most US carriers, international
must be activated which is usually
free by customer service.
- Cruise Ships:
Using your cellular phone for calls
cruise ship can be quite pricey but
be much less than calling from your
It may be cheaper to make your calls
your voice mail while in port if
can roam there. Cruise ships are
required to turn off their onboard
access when they arrive at each port.
sure your phone is indeed roaming
desired system while you're in port
until you're away from the ship before
to access the local, and usually
network. Get more details at Cellular@Sea and On-Waves.
- Caller ID
does not work on all networks in all places.
You may not be able to choose which
you answer and which you ignore.
- Unanswered Calls That Go to Voice Mail:
There is sometimes a per minute charge
US GSM carriers for roaming calls
to voice mail, even if your phone
and even if no message is left. You
your home carrier temporarily disable
mail. Make sure your own network
you are "home" by turning
phone once you arrive in the US.
like AT&T, claim calls to voice
do not incur a charge while roaming
phone is turned "off."
- Toll-Free Numbers:
Calls to US toll-free "800"
are not free, and may not be possible
foreign countries. Per minute (or
rates apply, but long distance charges
not. Wireless and credit card companies
a normal US number for foreign callers.
- The number for emergencies
is not usually "911" outside of the US
and Canada. In many European countries the
emergency number for police, fire, or ambulance
is 112. In other areas emergency numbers
varies. Find the number before you arrive.
If you have trouble being understood, you
might try calling your hotel and ask them
for help. Program in their number as soon
as you know it. GSM phones normally have
several emergency numbers preprogrammed based
on the network you are using. You can always
try "911" and the SIM will try
to convert your call to the right number,
but don't expect English-speaking help.
- A GSM phone
takes on the characteristics of the wireless
network in each country you visit.
you are traveling in Germany, your
will work like a local German wireless
- Finding Service:
When you are abroad and turn on your wireless
phone, it will automatically search
wireless network. Registration can
30 seconds to several minutes. When
or network number of the local network
displayed, your phone should be ready
use. The same is true when your phone
to the US.
- Battery Chargers:
Like any other appliance, your phone's battery
charger may need universal power
adapters for the countries you are
Most chargers for US wireless phones
compatible with both 110- and 220-volt
but outside of North America their
- Wireless Laws:
In some countries, using a wireless phone
while driving is prohibited and is vigorously
enforced. Contact the local tourist information
office for regulations.
- These are observations we and other contributors
have noted while traveling, yours may be
different. Rates and specifications are subject
to change. We'd like to hear about your experiences.
ADDITIONAL ROAMING RESOURCES: