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Post Info TOPIC: buy a cell phone or bring mine from home?


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buy a cell phone or bring mine from home?


I am looking at the 49 dollar international phone but my cell phone from ATT wireless has an international plan for $3.99 per month that will then charge .99 cents per minute or no plan and they charge you $1.29.  Why would you buy a phone when you can use your existing phone?  Is the quality so poor that it will not work right?  I know you will have to stop your voice mail box so you do not have to pay international rates for someone to leave you a message and you would have to be careful about leaving the phone off until you needed it.  Am I missing something????  Are you charged if someone tries to call you and you do not answer it if you are in a foreign country?  Advise appreciated.

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I'll try to keep this as UN-technical as I can --

Yes, AT&T/Cingular is a GSM phone system (like most, in Europe -- and unlike Sprint and Verizon), so you probably have a GSM phone .. But, do you have the RIGHT GSM phone?

What you NEED, is at least a TRIBAND (and preferably, a QUADBAND).  This refers to the frequencies that the phone can operate on.  The US uses mostly 1900, whereas most European systems operate on 1800.  There are also some 800 and 850, but those have gotten to be pretty rare.  What type (and model) of phone you have will determine if it will work, in Ireland.  Only you and your owner's manual know, for sure. biggrin biggrin

Assuming that you DO have a tri or quad phone, the next deciding factor is how (and how MUCH) you plan to use that cell phone.  If it is JUST for emergencies, then yes, you would be FOOLISH to buy the Mobal, or ANY other phone.

But, if you expect to make or receive many calls, then an alternative to your US cell phone MIGHT be a very viable (and desirable) option.  Consider:

With AT&T Plan: $3.99 for one month, PLUS $.99 per minute for each call, both INCOMING and OUTGOING.  PLUS, you are in Ireland, with a US phone, meaning that people in the US can call you at NO Charge to THEM (assuming that your cell number isn't long distance -- but YOU will pay a buck a minute for the privilege.  Likewise, for anyone in Ireland to call you, they will have to make an international call to do so AND, you will STILL pay that $1 per minute.  For you to call a anyone in Ireland (like a B&B), you will have to dial them as an international call.  If you or your traveling companion need to call each other, the person dialing AND the person receving the call will pay $1 per minute.

And, NO, we go every year, but we DON'T use my US T-Mobile, NORdo I have a Mobal.  I bought my UNLOCKED, quad-band GSM phone and while we are waiting to debark, I pop in my Irish Vodaphone SIM card and turn my US phone into a local, Irish phone for the duration.  You can buy those cards at any cell shop (O2 and Meteor are the other choices in Ireland) for about 10 Euro (and that includes about 10 Euro worth of call credit).
Then, you have a Irish number AND, all incoming calls are FREE (outgoing calls, that YOU dial will cost between 30 and 50 Euro cents per minute, though).  People in the US will need to dial your Irish number, Long Distance to call you, but there are plans and calling cards and 10-10 numbers that only charge about .12 (US) per minute -- and it will cost YOU absolutely NOTHING.
If you have had your AT&T account long enough, they SHOULD provide you with the UNLOCK CODE for your phone, but you usually have to harrass them to get them to do so.

For about 50 Euro or so, you can buy a phone AND SIM from Vodaphone (with about 30 Euro in call credit), instead of just the card, but THAT phone will ONLY work in with the Irish SIM that comes with it. 

Hope this helps ....

Bob

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Linda,

Bob is the resident expert on cell phones (called mobile phones in Ireland). There are many things you need to know and he has explained everything spot on. Check on everything he mentioned, add up all costs and then make your decision.

Michele

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Bob-

I guess that I am dense and not that up on cell phones so what does GSM stand for?
Also, what is meant by UNLOCKED and LOCKED?
What is a SIM card? Do you have a SIM card that fits into your phone for each country so you can use it in that country?  I assume you buy a SIM card when you get to Ireland if you have not been before and already have one.
How do people in the US know your Irish number if you don't get it until you get to Ireland?
How do I get billed for the calls if I use another phone than my ATT phone?

Sorry to be such a dunce on this subject.

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Linda -

Cell phone systems world-wide are basically devided into TWO types --

GSM    (   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSM )is Global System for Mobile Communications, and CDMA - Code Division for Multiple Access  (   http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia_term/0,2542,t%253DCDMA%2526i%253D39462,00.asp ). 

Generally speaking, MOST countries use GSM, but a few use CDMA.  In the US and Canada, BOTH are used extensively.  CDMA is the transmission platform of choice for Sprint and Verizon, while AT&T (Cingular) and T-Mobile have banked on GSM.  There is no ONE Universal Standard.  Think of it as the struggle between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, or (if you're old enough) the competition between VHS and Betamax, for control of theVideo tape market.

Within CDMA and GSM, there are different frequencies (called BANDS) used for transmitting the signal.  In the US, as I said, MOST use 1900, whereas in Europe, most commonly, 1800 is the Band most frequently  (no pun intended! yawn) employed. Some older transmitters still operate on the 800 or 850 Bands, though -- that is why a Quad Band  (800, 850, 1800 and 1900) phone is more desirable.  It will give you better coverage in 'fringe' areas.

To ADD to the confusion, SOME High-End phones, like the Nokia N95, can operate on BOTH CDMA and GSM --weirdface weirdface! I wouldn't worry about that too much, though, as the typical selling price of the N95 is around $700.

ALL GSM phones use a small chip (similar to an SD memory card, only MUCH thinner) called a SIM to store all the unique phone data like your number and account validity.  It is usually located under the battary.
 
As to LOCKED and UNLOCKED phones, most phone companies sell you the phone at DEEP discount -- often, for less than they actually paid for it.  Their PLAN is where they actually make their money (including re-couping the loss taken on discounting the phone price).  That's why you usually have to commit to a two year contract when you get that spiffy new phone.

To make SURE that you remain a loyal, regular customer, they 'LOCK' the phone to THEIR SIM card, so an AT&T phone will only recognize an AT&T SIM and will refuse to work with a T-Mobile or O2, or Vodaphone, or ...

The 'LOCKING' is done via software -- generally, all it takes to 'UNLOCK' the phone is to enter the correct four digit code, after which the phone will then be happy to work with whatever GSM SIM that you add. 
AT&T SHOULD agree to UNLOCK your phone -- See attatched:  http://www.networkworld.com/news/2006/120706-unlocking-cell-phones.html?fsrc=netflash-rss

You won't know your Irish phone number until you buy it.  If you purchase your SIM in Ireland, I expect that you will be calling home to let someone know that you arrived safe and sound -- you can give them the Irish number then.  Youcould also send it out in a mass-email if there are a LOT of people that will need to get in touch with you.

I've kept my account and number active for the last six or seven years, so my number has remained constant.  While in Scotland and Northern Ireland last year, I 'Roamed' on my Vodaphone Sim.

For details on Vodaphone: http://www.vodafone.ie/offers/prepay/
                        O2:      http://www.o2online.ie/wps/wcm/connect/O2/Home/

My account is a Pay As You Go -- I buy TOP-UP (extra) Minutes at nearly EVERY news-stand, gas station, or grocery store, pretty much ANYWHERE.

For calling home to the US, a Calling Card is ALWAYS the cheapest route, for you.


Want MORE????? biggrin biggrin biggrin

Here's a link to MORE, if anyone is really up for it:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=2&tid=34953538


Bob

-- Edited by Itallian Chauffeur at 11:41, 2008-02-18

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We also debated whether or not to bring a mobile phone on our trip last October. We finally decided not to, and it proved to be the correct choice. At the airport we bought an eircom card for 10E, and it lasted the entire 12 days. We called back to the states twice, and used it to set up our B&B's as we progressed. There was always a public phone handy, never had to search for one. It was a blessed relief not to have to drag the cell phone with us, there were enough things to keep track of the way it was. WC

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Thanks for all of the information from everybody.  I guess with the eircom card, you insert it into a public phone somehow and the calls are debited against the card or do you dial in the card number and pin number over the phone.  Can it be used from any phone or just certain phones?

The only reason I would want a mobil phone is in case of a car breakdown in the middle of nowhere, wreck, etc.  Other than that, I don't have a desire to have a mobil phone either.

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I've always stayed away from the urge to get one as well, as the reason I go over there is to sort of get away from it. I don't want a cell phone or a GPS system that some people are so fond of.

Getting lost in the rural areas is one of the great parts of the karma -- I don't really yearn for cell phones or satellite assistance when I'm roaming at will around County Clare! smile




-- Edited by Sidz at 13:19, 2008-02-18

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Sounds like you've answered my first question.  If all you want a mobile for is emergencies, then there would be NO compelling reason not to just bring along yours.

DO CHECK, however that it IS a Tri- or Quad Band.

We went the route of the Irish phone and number primarily because we have relatives there that we keep in touch with, throughout our trip, we go EVERY year and we find it handy for securing lodgings 'on the fly'....

Plus, I AM a bit of a techno geek (you know 'Boys and Their Toys') ....

I'm trying VERY hard to convince myself that I really CAN survive my next trip WITHOUT buying the Nokia N95 --- hmm hmm hmm

http://reviews.cnet.com/smartphones/nokia-n95-unlocked/4505-6452_7-32085029.html

Dunno how successful I'll be at that.  As much as I HATE working, I'll PROBABLY volunteer to do some overtime between now and June, just to JUSTIFY the $5-600 purchase ---

But, really -- It has REAL GPS -- BUILT IN!!!!  How can a mere mortal like me resist??????weirdface weirdface weirdface weirdface

Bob

-- Edited by Itallian Chauffeur at 19:15, 2008-02-18

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noshot9,

There are two types of calling cards available. One has a chip on it and is inserted into a public phone (if it will take it as not all public phones do). The other has a toll-free number and PIN. I prefer the last since you can use it from any phone.

Michele

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"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

Visit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.



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With the card that has the toll-free number and pin, can I call ahead to B & B to reserve, confirm, cancel, etc. and also call back to the US?



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Yes. The eircom card we used had one set of instructions for dialing inside Ireland, and another for dialing internationally. It is the type of card that has the PIN and the toll-free number. WC

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noshot9,

As WC has confirmed you can use the phone card for calling anywhere, both within Ireland and to the US.

Michele

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"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

Visit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.



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Bob, belated thanks for your insight! Just earlier today, I was on the AT&T website, checking out information about international use. According to the site, my RAZR can be used in Ireland. I'd decided to just sign up for the international plan and take it with me. But you've got me thinking now whether or not I really want to do that. Even though I will notify everyone at work that I'll be out of the country, someone will inevitably "forget" and call me. weirdface

Food for thought... Food for thought.

-- Edited by Willie at 19:37, 2008-02-28

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the other thing you can do is just purchase an international sim card to use in your AT&T RAZR (assuming that they will unlock it for you). I have a SIM card from United Mobile with a UK phone number and very reasonable rates. I also just purchased an unlocked RAZR on e-bay to use it in. The United Mobile card will work in the US as well (with very high rates here), but I was able to put the SIM in the phone, power it up and do two test calls - one outgoing and one incoming - just to be sure the phone worked. It works fine, and we will have a phone like what we are accustomed to using to take with us.

A big plus with United Mobile is free incoming calls in Ireland. Your family and friends here will have to call you long distance to the international number, but it won't use up any of your time. Calls made within the republic to the US, the Republic of Ireland, the UK and a host of other countries will only cost you .29 Euros per minute.

-- Edited by wckc at 09:59, 2008-03-01

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