The Cell Phone Thing, Part IV: Finding A SIM Card

So, we’ve walked through the jungle of cellphone technology and reached the point where you’ve decided that you need a foreign SIM card for you GSM phone so that you can gab your way across some other continent.

To recap, you can do this only if you have an unlocked GSM phone. That phone must work on the two frequencies most commonly used outside the United States. It could be a U.S. phone with the two U.S. frequencies, plus one or two of the other ones – a tri-band or quad-band phone. Or it could be a dual-band phone that works only outside the United States.

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

If you’re not sure about that, you need to go back a few posts to the beginning of this monstrous screed.

But let’s assume you’re all set with an unlocked, compatible GSM phone. Where do you get the SIM card for the country you’re going to visit? The best answer is that you get it over there. If you search Google, you will find cards for sale over the Internet, but they tend to carry a hefty surcharge.

Sometimes you can find mobile phone stores right in the airport when you arrive. Otherwise, you ought to be able to turn one up in your destination city.

Let us take the case of my offspring, known in this blog as the kid. Said kid went to Spain with her unlocked quad-band GSM Motorola RAZR V3. Upon arrival in Seville, she hunted up a MoviStar store. The clerk sold her a SIM card with some minutes on it for 25 Euros, helped her set it up so the phone menus would be in English and she walked out with her own phone number.

How did she know to go to MoviStar? I suggested it to her because, even though some other phone companies have better rates, MoviStar has better coverage in an area where she would be traveling later. How did I know that? GSM World.

The GSM World website has coverage maps that show which companies have coverage where, throughout the world. If you click past the maps, there are even links to the cellular companies’ websites, so you can check out their deals and find store locations.

So, if you manage to do all that, you’re good to go. You’re an international cell phone savant. But there is a bit more to think about, before you start chewing up your minutes. And I’ll tell you about it next.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *