overseas telephones........

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I travel to Europe about 5 or 6 times a year, sometimes to south or central america, for a week or two at a time. I have an i-phone with att and I get excellent reception pretty much everywhere in the world. But the roaming charges are brutal and their overseas deal is not that great. What would you recommend to purchase to make some overseas calls when there and an occasional call back to the US? I am told that I should buy a cheap (eBay) GSM quad band phone and just get a sim card for each country that I visit. What do you suggest? Thanks. Alan Klein

I did some checking on http://allworldcellphones.com/gsm-frequencies-list.htm and found that the UK, France, Italy, Greece, German and Switzerland (and most of the rest of the world) use a 900/1800 frequency. Next time you visit one of the countries, you might consider buying a inexpensive, basic, unlocked GSM phone - maybe a Nokia (http://www.mobile-phones-uk.org.uk/nokia.htm). As you travel from country to country, you can purchase a local sim card along with pre-pay time. Keep the sim cards for when you return. Be aware that sometimes if there is no activity for 6 mos. or so, the sim expires. There are more answers to a similar question at: http://intltravelnews.com/message-board/cellphone-no-contract

I am very happy with my international phone, it cost $100, I pay for the time I use @ $1.50/minute. I think the phone costs $50 if you don't want to use it in the U.S. Mobal is based in UK and calls to UK are $1/minute I think. I rarely use it but it's been great when I needed it. It's also an excellent alarm clock that I can actually hear when exhausted.

I have found that Mobal, which we have used for years, has gotten very expensive. We now have a second unlocked phone with which we use a pre-paid Passport Sim card from Telestial that is good in 180 countries. We just add money automatically via credit card as our minutes get low. Rates are better than Mobal. You do need to make at least one call every six months to keep that card accurate. The Passport card also gives us a U.S. phone number in addition to the U.K. one so folks back home can reach us without paying international charges.

Hi TLCompton: thank you for posting this. I looked at the website and was wondering what phone you would recommend and what sim card. Have you encountered any connection problems in using the service? I checked some reviews and several people indicated that you call an access number and they call you back to place the call. Is this how it works? Thanks so much.

Only place I ran into connection problems recently was in a small mountain town in Argentina. In cities I've had no problem. With the Passport Card you dial the number you want and it routes through someplace and then the phone rings when you are connected (but you don't hang up in between)--a little strange but it only takes a few seconds longer than Mobal. One thing that does take time is when you are switching from out of country back to U.S. You need to "activate" the US service for which you have a different pin number and then wait 5 minutes for it to activate.

Telestial does offer a few phones but I bought one myself online from JR Electronics as I wanted a flip model. I got a cheap Motorola V170--not too impressed but I only use it on trips. If you google unlocked quad-band GSM phones you will come up with lots of possibilities in a wide range of prices. In preparing for an upcoming Japan trip I've learned that GSM does not work there. They are now recommending you get a phone that also has 3G capability in addition to quad-band.