Can You Use Your Mobile Phone Outside The U.S.? - InformationWeek

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Commentary
10/17/2007
08:28 AM
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Can You Use Your Mobile Phone Outside The U.S.?

It's amazing how dependent we've become on being in contact all the time, wherever we are. Going to a meeting? Make sure you have your phone with you. Getting a quart of milk? Don't forget that phone. Traveling to the South Pole? Don't bother -- unless you've got the right kind of phone.

It's amazing how dependent we've become on being in contact all the time, wherever we are. Going to a meeting? Make sure you have your phone with you. Getting a quart of milk? Don't forget that phone. Traveling to the South Pole? Don't bother -- unless you've got the right kind of phone.While the citizens of most of the industrial world have come to depend on their mobile phones, the type of mobile phone that they depend on differs depending on which country they're in. Until recently, in fact, the network that was most popular in Europe -- GSM -- wasn't available at all in the United States; and even now, you have to go out of your way (and way into your pocketbook) to get a GSM phone. And make sure you have the right type of GSM...

It's a mess, and while the world's mobile providers try to untangle it -- or do their best to keep it tangled while they battle for world supremacy -- it's up to each of us to figure out what to do if we travel. This means, for most of us, either buying or renting a phone that can be used overseas. Jacqueline Emigh went to Europe last summer, and found that she had to do considerable research in order to find the best, and most effective, way to keep in touch. The result is her article How To Get Mobile Access Overseas -- Tips For U.S. Travelers, in which she goes through the five questions you need to ask yourself -- and your provider -- so that you don't find yourself looking for a pay phone in, say, the middle of the Sicilian countryside.

Incidentally, you don't necessarily have to depend on the major providers -- there are (as might be expected) a bunch of Web-based entrepreneurs ready and willing to offer alternative methods to keep in touch with the folks (and your boss) at home. I'd be curious to know how many people have used these smaller companies for mobile communications outside the U.S. rather than depending on their current provider. Considering that at least one major U.S. communications company is starting to abandon the restrictive contract system that most consumers chafe under, a trip overseas might not only mean a need for a temporary communications solution, but the chance to try out an alternative to the big boys.

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