View Full Version : ideas for cellphone for travel?
I leave to whistler, BC this week for a conference that will last several days. In the past, I had called my cell phone carrier (AT&T and later Cingular) to add me to a national plan for $10 more per month, which would cover me for phone use in Canada and Mexico (for the occasional travel). Well, I called them up, and apparently, they no longer do this. Which means I'll have to pay long-distance roaming charges when I use the phone! Yikes! I HAVE to work somehow..
Any suggestions on what to do with such short notice?
My friends who study all around europe buy prepaid cards for their cellphones when they stay longer than a couple of weeks outside the usual country.
T-Mobile. Seriously; they don't pull the rug from underneath you, unlike most carriers.
If you're not thinking about switching commitments, T-Mobile and Virgin have pay-as-you-go plans. I don't know how well these work, I've been advised against these. I guess it depends on how much you think you'll be using your phone. But check T-Mobile out; they actually have Customer Service.
If you come to Canada a lot, get a prepaid account with one of the Canadian providers, and forward your US phone to it (or leave your Canadian number on your voicemail).
If you don't, shop around for a carrier with better Canadian roaming rates. T-Mobile isn't too bad, although they roam on Rogers and in some provinces Rogers' coverage isn't great (e.g. Saskatchewan, Newfoundland & Labrador). Still, it might be good enough.
I'm a real cell-phone geek so if you want more detail, feel free (but I warned you :) ).
Okay, thanks for the responses. I think I'm just going to have to expense this out per Glenn's suggestions. I leave wed, don't have time to shop around, etc. Skype looks like a great solution, however, my old laptop decided to die on me this weekend when I was preparing it for the trip. This'll be my second time to canada, last time was in 2004, and I'm going for 5 days.
I second Gabriel's recommendation of T-Mobile as a long term solution. They really do have excellent customer service and I've never had an issue with coverage in the US, Canada, or Mexico. That and the fact they were more than willing to help me configure an unlocked GSM phone (many other carriers in the US will refuse to help you set up the phone because you didn't buy it from them) has earned them my continuing business.
Well, that, and they have CZJ as their spokeswoman mmmm :D The people here in my area have done nothing but complain about T-Mobile's reception (Orange County, California!), and AT&T/Cingular have been without any problems, whatsoever here. I also have a decent plan, 550 minutes for $39.95, and free weekend/night minutes beginning at 5 (or 6?) pm -- comes from old AT&T days. I haven't seen any plans like that in a while, and customer service for me has been a non-issue thus far.
Jim, I will try to msg you when I get back, would like to chat about cell phones ;)
T-Mobile's service in the US is GSM 1900 only. Cingular has GSM 850 in many areas. 850 gets into buildings better and perpetuates further from towers. A well-designed GSM 1900 network can be as good as a GSM 850 network, but it requires more towers to do so.
My experience has been that every provider sucks in some fashion or another. :) There are advantages and disadvantages to all. When I was in Orlando in 2003, I had great T-Mobile service at my cousin's house but borderline AT&T and no Cingular coverage. AT&T and Cingular have since merged, but my cousins are now on T-Mobile because it works better for them. In another location, Cingular or Verizon or someone else may well be better.
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