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Old 03-06-13, 01:13 PM   #1
watson
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Mobile phone use in the USA

Will be cycling the Trans AM this May - August and realise that if I bring my European Mobile Phone the roaming charged when making a call inside the USA or to home will be very expensive . What is the best option re - puchasing a mobile phone in the USA , what are the best deals and what companies provide the best coverage .Any suggestions and advice will be very welcome
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Old 03-06-13, 01:26 PM   #2
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Straight Talk offers very affordable calling plans. You may be able to use your existing phone as well (if it's quad-band) and swap the SIM. Coverage will be about as good as any other provider, but you will lose signal in spots.
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Old 03-06-13, 01:32 PM   #3
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Or pick up a Pay as you Go, prepaid phone when you get here.

radio shack is a useful chain of stores to do that .

coverage is commercial territory.
not universal ... and so you can run out of your reception area .
and into one that you can't use , because that Other company has to have money.

old man without a mobile phone.

Last edited by fietsbob; 03-06-13 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 03-06-13, 02:06 PM   #4
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You can get 1000 minutes, 1000 texts, and some limited internet access on a straightalk phone for $30 a month + the phone cost. The straightalk website will usually have a number of refurbished phones which are free with a month of service. No contract.

As far as coverage goes, I find that I tend to get a signal almost anywhere I'd reasonably expect to have one, but it's not always a very strong signal. If you communicate in texts a lot, you'll have an easier time.

Similar options are Net 10 and Tracfone, which offer more standard pay-as-you-go plans. All three services 'borrow' network coverage from larger providers, and it seems to vary in different areas which networks they use. You'll either have full service with picture messaging and internet, roaming with talk and text only, or sometimes no access to the local network, but you can dial emergency numbers like 911. Sometimes if you turn it off and off a few time when roaming, it'll switch to another network and give you full service. Sometimes if you turn it off and on when you have coverage but can't connect to it, it'll switch to roaming. Sounds kinda touchy, but I feel like I generally get service more often then someone with a more expensive plan from a contract provider.
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Old 03-06-13, 02:23 PM   #5
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FWIW, Verizon seems to have the best coverage on the TransAm of the big carriers.

Pre-paid phone is probably your best bet. Find a Walmart, Target, other big box store; Best Buy; or Radio Shack when you arrive in the U.S. Compare plans, make sure you factor in the Verizon network access (ask), and make your choice.
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Old 03-06-13, 02:29 PM   #6
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When I'm in the US for an extended period I buy a $9.99 phone from Radio Shack (usually they are with TracFone), run it for the time I'm there, and then it can be considered a paperweight. I keep meaning to leave one behind for a friend who doesn't have a cellphone and has never wanted the financial commitment but never got around to it yet.

Coverage along the east coast is good based on their maps, coverage in mountainous and remote areas is very patchy (as you'd expect) and from what I recall large parts of the west show very limited coverage.

From what I recall AT&T has better coverage in more areas but you'll pay more for phone usage. My TracFone cost $20 for a 120-minute top up and each text counted as 0.3 minutes. So effectively it worked out something like 16c/min for calls and 5c/text - against that the last time I used AT&T I paid 25c/min for calls and 25c/text. When I did that I bought their cheapest phone and put the SIM into my own phone - I could have just bought a SIM card on its own but curiously it was cheaper to buy a burner phone. Don't forget in the US you'll pay to receive calls and texts as well.
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Old 03-06-13, 03:08 PM   #7
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Find out if your current phone has a sim lock to your carrier. If it's not locked then you should be able to buy a pay-as-you-go card in the USA and use that in your phone.
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Old 03-07-13, 08:29 AM   #8
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You can buy a prepaid phone at a BestBuy (large electonics store chain) or similar for about $20, get a no-contract plan from AT&T, and have a local AT&T retail store (actual AT&T, not a reseller) put in an AT&T chip in the phone for free. My son continually loses his phone so he has to buy it now and this is what he does. In the past, I have bought a used Verizon phone off ebay and gotten a no contract plan for a 2-month tour. Costs a tad more but it is a regular plan. With no contract plans, you just do not get a free or discounted phone.

Verizon really does have a wider footprint in rural areas but not as "deep" in large metro areas.
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Old 03-07-13, 09:08 AM   #9
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I agree with going to best buy for a mobile. The employees do not work on commission and are very helpful and honest in my experience. As others said Verizon has the best coverage with pay as you go options as well.
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Old 03-07-13, 10:23 AM   #10
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As others have mentioned, consider going to Walmart for a Straight Talk phone.

I use a plain ole non-smartphone with the PAYG service PagePlus. I rarely use the phone at home, and Pageplus allows me to keep a Verizon-network (largest wireless network in USA) phone going for only $10/every 120 days without loss of accumulated balance, or about $30 per year.

If I anticipate actually using the phone much, I simply buy more airtime in larger chunks, which reduces the cost per minute of actual use.

Last edited by seeker333; 03-07-13 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 03-07-13, 10:37 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by contango View Post
When I'm in the US for an extended period I buy a $9.99 phone from Radio Shack (usually they are with TracFone), run it for the time I'm there, and then it can be considered a paperweight. I keep meaning to leave one behind for a friend who doesn't have a cellphone and has never wanted the financial commitment but never got around to it yet.

Coverage along the east coast is good based on their maps, coverage in mountainous and remote areas is very patchy (as you'd expect) and from what I recall large parts of the west show very limited coverage.

From what I recall AT&T has better coverage in more areas but you'll pay more for phone usage. My TracFone cost $20 for a 120-minute top up and each text counted as 0.3 minutes. So effectively it worked out something like 16c/min for calls and 5c/text - against that the last time I used AT&T I paid 25c/min for calls and 25c/text. When I did that I bought their cheapest phone and put the SIM into my own phone - I could have just bought a SIM card on its own but curiously it was cheaper to buy a burner phone. Don't forget in the US you'll pay to receive calls and texts as well.
I have had both, Verizon and AT&T. I am currently on AT&T for an old unlimited international data plan on I have. It is no longer available so if I leave it I will never get it back. AT&T's marketing saying they have more bars in more places, applies only if you look at it worldwide. That is disclosed in their fine print. Since I spend most of my time traveling out of the country, I need that. In the States, Verizon has the better coverage. I traveled by car cross country for many years for my job, and Verizon always had the best coverage. AT&T often left me with no signal, and sometimes still does. For even better coverage, you can get a phone from Verizon that has CDMA and GSM, although it really isn't necessary. I would opt for a prepaid Verizon phone in the States for short term use.

When I first got my AT&T phone about four years ago, I had a run in with a large chunk of ice that did $3500 worth of damage to my car. I checked everything over and was able to continue to drive despite potential damage to the radiator. It wasn't leaking but I bought extra antifreeze just in case. I was able to drive for a couple of hours before leaving the Interstate in Virginia. Shortly after, my temperature gauge began to climb. I pulled over and the radiator was leaking. I was in a rural area and had no phone coverage. I was able to add antifreeze and continue on my way, stopping to add more as I went. I had no coverage the remaining 60 miles to my destination. I found out later, on my way home, that Verizon had coverage the entire way. Many areas going West have no coverage in the outlying areas as well. Verizon does. This hasn't changes significantly in my recent experience while driving cross country. As long as you are on the interstate, you will not have an issue, but on the back roads, you will run into dead areas with AT&T.
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Old 03-07-13, 02:23 PM   #12
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I'm soon to be doing coast to coast USA and I'm planning on bringing my unlocked English iphone5 and buying a verizon or AT and T pay as you go sim. Has anyone else done this? Are English iphones compatible with the USA network?
thanks
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Old 03-07-13, 02:59 PM   #13
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Higher i-geek participation, here, ?
http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdispl...ng-amp-Gadgets
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Old 03-07-13, 03:09 PM   #14
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I'm soon to be doing coast to coast USA and I'm planning on bringing my unlocked English iphone5 and buying a verizon or AT and T pay as you go sim. Has anyone else done this? Are English iphones compatible with the USA network?
thanks
A lot of US GSM carriers, including AT&T and T-Mobile have spectrum that is 850 mHz, which is outside the 900/1800/1900 bands you'll find on typical European phones. So, while the SIM would work, you might not have coverage in rural areas. 850 mHz is usually in rural areas, whereas most metro areas in the U.S. operate on 1900.
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Old 03-07-13, 04:07 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by contango View Post
When I'm in the US for an extended period I buy a $9.99 phone from Radio Shack (usually they are with TracFone), run it for the time I'm there, and then it can be considered a paperweight. I keep meaning to leave one behind for a friend who doesn't have a cellphone and has never wanted the financial commitment but never got around to it yet.
In the U.S., you can recycle your phone at Walmart, Radio Shack, Verizon stores and other places. call2recycle.org will give locations
dunno if they have dropoffs at international airports, that would be a good idea.
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Old 03-07-13, 05:38 PM   #16
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In the U.S., you can recycle your phone at Walmart, Radio Shack, Verizon stores and other places. call2recycle.org will give locations
dunno if they have dropoffs at international airports, that would be a good idea.
Dropoffs would be neat, although after our last visit I figured that instead of dismantling the phones to see what was inside them I'd just reuse them next time, which means we'll have a phone from the moment we touch down. Which will be handy, given the problems we usually have with phone service in the first couple of days of a visit and the roaming costs to make a couple of calls back home to let people know we touched down OK.

That said I don't know I'd drop off a phone until I was in the air (by which time it's too late). The last thing I want is to dump a phone and then find a problem with the flight meant I needed to call people.
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Old 03-07-13, 05:54 PM   #17
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A lot of US GSM carriers, including AT&T and T-Mobile have spectrum that is 850 mHz, which is outside the 900/1800/1900 bands you'll find on typical European phones. So, while the SIM would work, you might not have coverage in rural areas. 850 mHz is usually in rural areas, whereas most metro areas in the U.S. operate on 1900.
Iphone 5 works in the 850mhz band.
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Old 03-08-13, 08:59 AM   #18
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I have not used this company, but am considering signing up for their ten dollar a month plan. I make very few calls so this would be ideal for me. I assume your existing phone would work if it is a GSM phone. But, I have no idea how much it would cost for you to call to Europe with it, I suspect that part of your decision will be the cost for international calls. This plan is voice only, no data.
http://www.puretalkusa.com/mobile-flex-plan.php

I do not know if they have good enough coverage for your route in western USA or not.
http://www.puretalkusa.com/coverage.php
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