Subject: Re: Cell Phones in Europe
Hello Callers:

This topic pops up from time to time. The prevalent system in Europe is GSM; in the US it is either TDMA (e.g. AT&T) or CDMA. There are GSM systems in the US (e.g., Nextel and Voicestream). The GSM providers in the US promise that you can get a phone from them which can be used both in the US and in Europe; I believe those are the so-called tri-band phones. I use AT&T in the US and in Europe, but the rub is that I bring a GSM phone with me to Europe and my US number rings there. My GSM phone has a SIM chip in it provided by AT&T and the chip will work with almost any GSM phone. AT&T is switching its system to a GSM system in the US. Presently it offers a Seimens phone which will work with both GSM and TDMA (the latter only in digital mode) and which holds the promise of working both in the US and in Europe. Nokia claims that it will introduce a similar phone within a few months if it has not already done so.

The major disadvantage to a GSM phone in the US is coverage. While it covers most, but not all the major metropolitan areas, it is spotty or simply non-existent beyond those areas. In Europe, however, I never seem to lack for coverage.

Before I received my GSM phone from a friend in Europe, I investigated the purchase of a GSM phone and prepaid SIM cards on that well know Internet auction site. I forget the names of the sellers, but the key was to buy one that operates on the European frequencies and which was unlocked. I seem to recall that the prepaid SIM cards were from a Swiss company. That is probably the inexpensive alternative.

Tom on hold in Carlisle.