International cell phones with prepaid SIM cards can free you from the inconvenience of being chained to a hotel or pay phone while providing reliable and yes, even an economical way of calling back home while you study abroad though be prepared to either purchase or rent a second world phone because standard domestic models don't work overseas and here's why:
Some countries drive on the other side of the road. Some countries use different TV systems (remember this when buying videos and DVDs internationally). And, unfortunately, most countries use a different type of cell phone service, too.
Europe and much of the world adopted a common world phone standard called Global Service for Mobile (GSM). Equally important, Europe, Africa and Asia not only had the foresight to adopt the same cell phone standard, but they also decided that their cell phone networks would operate on the same frequencies (the 900mhz, initially and later the 1800mhz band). This explains why the same cell phone that works in London will work equally well in Johannesburg, Beijing and Sydney.
Most countries around the globe - more than 205 at last count - have adopted the GSM wireless technology and if you plan on studying overseas, outside of North America and want the convenience of carrying a travel phone, then you're going to need a GSM international cell phone.
The United States did not standardize and consequently competing wireless standards emerged from the various wireless carriers. Just so you know the names, in the US our cell phone service is most likely to be the CDMA type (Verizon and Sprint), or perhaps TDMA or even iDEN (Nextel) or AMPS (you don't want to know what these acronyms stand for and fortunately you don't need to know).
While there are some North American GSM cellular providers (T-Mobile and Cingular), they unfortunately operate on a different (1900mhz) frequency than is used abroad, however there are some multi-band world phones now available through these US carriers. The "international roaming" rate for this service can be measured in dollars per minute though you will be accessible on your US number while overseas.
A GSM worldwide mobile phone could be leased for typically $29-$59/week with each minute charges varying from $1.50-$5/minute, for the incoming and outgoing calls. Should you travel rarely (less then once/ year) as well as your stay is less a week this might be the best choice despite the crazy each minute costs. Though most study abroad programs lasting 1-3 several weeks you'd need another student load to merely repay your phone bill.
To actually make the most of a mobile phone overseas and never require a second mortgage in your house, you will need to get your own GSM worldwide mobile phone along with a prepaid Sim for your forthcoming worldwide destination. Normally, this is the best choice for college students studying overseas. Unlike typical mobile phones in America, GSM world mobile phones don't include telephone numbers designed into them and also the actual services are not really associated with the telephone itself. Rather clients activate their cell phones by popping in so-known as Sims, little thumbnail sized products that determine your mobile phone number and then any additional services like voicemail message.
A pre-compensated Sim for every country you visit (an Italia Sim, France Sim, The country Sim Australia Sim), provides you with a nearby telephone number and native calling rates are generally a low 25 cents/minute. It is simple, convenient, and comparatively affordable that you should call others in the united states you are going to, and simple and normal to allow them to call to for your local number, too. On top of that, Incoming calls have the freedom no matter where they originate. You are able to replenish your airtime around the Sim by buying an airtime voucher within the local currency variations. They are offered for the most part newsstands, kiosks and supermarkets. The airtime vouchers are scratch cards which have a pin code that you simply simply key to your phone for fast credit.
If you are visiting numerous nations on one trip, you will find also choices to remove the requirement for another Sim in every country you visit. A Worldwide or Worldwide pre-compensated Sim usually has a United kingdom ( 44) number and enables cheaper roaming across Europe and far from the GSM world for reduced than your US company could allow.
These Global Sims will also be usually less expensive when roaming through other nations than a local European country SIM allows. For instance, you might buy a pre-compensated Sim for Italia, and receive excellent local rates while for the reason that country, but visit France or The country and that is when you will be hit by Worldwide roaming charges. A pre-compensated Sim purpose designed for such country-hopping travel frequently also receives as standard free incoming minutes. Topping your calling minutes usually can be achieved with the provider's customer support, online or via a phone recharge menu.
If worldwide calling and Sim technologies are a new comer to you, check the supply of reaching customer support. Some companies offer standard US business hrs assistance, which might not mean much for you when you are on European or Asian time. A 24-hour Customer Support department won't ever make you in need of assistance on a trip abroad.
To sum up, having a prepaid mobile phone you've got a economical method of remaining in contact with no bills, no roaming charges with no extra problems.