one and pay local rates. The upside: Locals
can call you cheaply, instead of dialing your
u.S. number. You also don’t use any minutes
on your American cell account, which is good
if you have a limited number of minutes.
The downside is that you’ll pay interna-
tional long-distance charges when calling the
united States, and people calling you on your
u.S. number won’t reach you—just your voice
mail. Keep in mind, too, that if you visit dif-
ferent countries, you’ll
need to get a new SIM
card for each country.
• If you’re a Sprint® or
Verizon® customer, you
must buy a new phone and
a new SIM card. Why? Be-
cause these service provid-
ers operate on non-GSM frequencies.
Most cell phones in the world (except in
Japan and a few other places), however, work
on GSM networks that operate at either 900
MHz or 1800 MHz. The u.S. and Canada
GSM networks operate at 850 MHz and 1900
MHz. If your phone can work on at least the
850, 900 and 1800 MHz frequencies, you
should be set to roam abroad.
You can buy a SIM card from another ven-
dor that has cheap international calling plans,
such as Maxroam.com and telestial.com. Both
have lower per-minute rates no matter where
you to make a call directly from a computer,
a special VoIP phone, or a traditional phone
connected to a special adapter, using high-
speed Internet. Although some VoIP servic-
es allow you to call only other people using
the same service, others allow you to call any
telephone number—including local, long-dis-
tance, wireless and international numbers—at
a fraction of the cost or for free.
VoIP providers, such as Vonage TM and
Some VoIP services allow you to call any
phone number—including local, long-dis-
tance, wireless and international numbers—
at a fraction of the cost of a traditional phone.
There’s Always a Catch
Your cell phone is probably locked to your
current carrier, so if you try to replace your
SIM card with another card, your phone
won’t work. You might be able to receive
calls, but not make outgoing calls. You can
get your phone unlocked by contacting your
current cell carrier and asking for the unlock
code. Or you can pay a $25 “unlock” service
fee to get the code. Check the Internet for
Travel advisory: Plan on taking a few weeks
to negotiate these options before you leave
the country. And you might want to bring
along your current SIM card, just in case.
AT&T’s CallVantage®, offer hefty savings and
many advantages over regular phone service,
• Streamlined records. Receive just one
bill for unlimited calls to anywhere in North
• Convenience. When you’re out of the
office or out of the county, your clients can
reach you without dialing a lot of different
numbers. (My Vonage line is set up to ring
both my regular office and cell numbers.) You
also can set the ring patterns to vary by time
of day and block calls during the night.
• Portability. Take your Internet phone
with you and make and receive calls by sign-
ing into your VoIP account wherever there’s a
• Savings to clients. If you do regular busi-
ness in particular cities, you can pay for a lo-
cal number in those cities and save clients the
cost of toll calls. For example, my office line
has a California 310 area code, even though I
live in St. Louis, Mo.
• Toll-free number: Vonage and Office De-
pot offer plans for $10 per month.
If you’re a big talker, along with being a
busy speaker, VoIP phone service might be the
right solution for you to cut your long-dis-
tance costs sharply.
Talk Over the Internet
With the marvels of high technology, your In-
ternet connection can replace your phone.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) enables
David Strom speaks on technology
topics around the world. He is the
former editor-in-chief of Network
Computing magazine and can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.