The Cell Phone Thing, Part I: Verizon

So, you have a Verizon cell phone and you’re wondering whether you can use it on a trip overseas. The answer is probably not. Most other countries use a different wireless technology. But there are a few exceptions you should know about.

Here are three circumstances in which you can use your Verizon phone outside the United States.

Cellphone Series

I: Verizon
III: Using A SIM Card
IV: Finding A SIM Card
V: Calling Plans
VI: Tips & Miscellany

1. You are traveling to Canada, Mexico or one of a few other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where there are wireless networks using the same CDMA technology that Verizon does. (Europe? No way.) Verizon lists those countries and the international roaming rates that apply in them on this page  This page also gives a number to call to make sure your plan has the international dialing feature, which you should definitely check before you leave. (It’s not necessary for Canada.)

2. You are traveling on a cruise ship that offers cell phone satellite uplinks. Verizon lists these ships on the same page. Check the roaming rates, though. They are very high.

3. You have a special global phone  that has CDMA technology for the United States and a few other countries, plus GSM technology for Europe and most of the rest of the world. If you’re not sure whether you have one of these phones, you can rest assured that you do not. They’re very expensive.

You can buy a global phone under a Verizon plan or you can buy your own (still very expensive) phone compatible with Verizon in the United States and another carrier overseas. Let’s just say it’s complicated, expensive and it makes sense only for a very limited number of highly mobile, high-usage international business people.

Do not despair. None of this means that you can’t have cell phone coverage overseas. There are other ways. I´ll explain that next.


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