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Chapter One. Before You Go > Using a Cell Phone Internationally

Using a Cell Phone Internationally

Will you want to use your mobile phone while you're traveling? Probably. But you'll need to prepare before getting on the plane. There are a few issues you'll need to consider, such as what country you're traveling to, which carrier you're using, what kind of phone you have, whether it has a SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card, and whether there are any potential security issues to worry about.

Differences among countries

If you're an American traveling to Europe, you'll find that staying connected via your mobile phone is easier if you have a GSM (Global System for Mobile) phone. Those already using a GSM-based provider—such as T-Mobile or AT&T—need to have a three-band GSM telephone. The same is true if you live in Europe and you're traveling to the U.S., because there is more than one flavor of GSM—in fact it gets very complicated very quickly when you start looking at which countries use which frequencies. As a rule of thumb, North America and Central America are on GSM 1900 MHz, while most of the rest of the world is either on 900 or 1800 MHz or a combination of both. There is a list of all countries and their related GSM frequencies in Appendix A.


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