Subject: Cell phone for Europe
Frances:

We got a GSM Euro-phone for free (including shipping) from Mobal (http://www.mobalrental.com). It was a Nokia refurb/rental return. A brand new Mobal phone is $US 50.

The box included the phone, an already-assigned UK phone number (Mobal connects via a UK cell provider which has roaming agreements nearly everywhere in the world), complete instructions, a UK charger, and an adapter to plug the UK charger into continental Europe outlets.

The deal is simple. No monthly fees. Nothing expires--your phone access is good for life. You give Mobal your credit card number and they charge your actual usage to it. Connect cost is about $US 1.25 almost everywhere which is comparable--and in some cases less--than what other carriers charge.

We took it with us on last September's fortnight in Tuscany. We gave our phone's number to family/friends before we left. Monitored it daily for incoming calls (voice-mail is included). Used it three times--one to alert our Montalcino apartment landlord that we were approaching town, another to obtain directions to a most wonderful B&B in the Mugello Valley between Florence and Bologna, and the third to work out new LGW to TYS flights with American Airlines after a late BA connecting flight stranded us at Gatwick. And it all worked seamlessly. The minutes were billed to our credit card and afterward we received detailed billing info in the mail.

In the past, we had used local phone cards--and any unused time expired within six months. One friend told us about buying a GSM phone and SIM card when he arrived in Holland. He still has the phone, and can buy a new local SIM card next time he goes to Europe, but the unused time on the original SIM card has expired (along with the unused money that he paid for it).

As I write, the Mobal phone is on loan to a friend who is now in Ireland. Our arrangement is that when she returns, she will send the phone back and reimburse me for any connect time charged to my credit card.

If it all works out as planned, our Mobal phone will be shared by traveling family/friends in the same way that the one topcoat in Hawaii passes among wintertime mainland travelers.

Jerry in E TN USA