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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT INTERNATIONAL ROAMING


Q. How do I call back to the US when Roaming outside the country?
A: Normally, you enter the same sequence of numbers the locals use to make international calls. In some cases you add a "01" or a "001" before the US Area Code and number. There is a short cut for most GSM phone users (AT&T, T-Mobile, etc), by entering a "+" before the country code of the number (the country code for Us and Canada is "1"). The foreign system figures out the roaming codes automatically, but you still must make sure you enter the country code (1) for US numbers. Unless you have these codes programmed into your phone book, none of your entries, including the voice mail button, will work.

Q. Will I be charged long distance in addition to the per-minute roaming rate?
A: Normally, calls you make or receive while roaming internationally are charged at the per-minute voice roaming rate, with no additional long distance charges.

Q. Can I make and receive calls while on a cruise ship?
A: Yes, most cruise lines offer roaming service for their passengers, but since the connection is satellite-based, it is not cheap. While the ship is supposed to turn off their satellite roaming facilities within 3 miles of an foreign country, be careful that your call is being delivered by the right roaming carrier while in port, and not the ship's.

Q. Can I access data services while traveling abroad?
A: Text Messaging is typically available in all countries. Picture, video messaging, GPRS data and mobile broadband have become universally available in most developed countries. Data access depends on your phone model.  Most phones can access 2G Data but if your phone includes frequencies available in foreign countries you can access data at maximum speeds, as high as 4G-LTE.

Q. I have Data service but why is it so slow?
A: There are 2 major possibilties. First, your plan may be limited to a slower speed, especially plans that claim "Unlimited International Data Roaming."  A second possibilty is that your phone does not have the proper frequency channels used for data in that foreign country.  Instead, you could be using normal voice channels for data service because those are the only bands your phone can access. You should be able to improve your data speeds if you can find a Wi-Fi signal.
Q. Do I have the same data usage limits when I travel outside the US?
A: Most likely, yes. However, if you have an unlimited data plan, limits and download speeds may be different while roaming.

Q. How do I access my Voice Mail while roaming?
A: You may not be able to press the pre-programmed button or icon on your phone for Voice Mail. When you are calling your Voice Mail (or any US number from a foreign country), you must enter the international calling prefix (or "+1" on GSM phones) before your number to access a US-based number, even if the phone called is roaming internationally. In most GSM devices, holding down the 0 key will cause the + sign to appear, in others it may the # key. "1" is the country code for the US. Instead, add an entry to your phone book that includes the entire string of digits (including "1" before the Area Code) necessary to call your own wireless number from a foreign country. Your call should eventually go to Voice Mail where you can enter your PIN and access your messages. To find your Voice Mail access number you can look at the screen and see what number is being called when you press your Voice Maill button, or visit the Voice Mail Access Number Page.

Q. How much am I charged for Voice Mail calls while roaming internationally?
A: Voice mail calls are charged the same as any call to the US.

Q. How do I minimize charges when I use roaming Cellular Data outside the U.S.?
A: Smart phones have many robust applications, so it's natural for users to transfer more data on their smart phones than they would using other handsets or PDA devices. If you're not sure foreign data roaming is included in your plan, we offer the following tips to keep your bill predictable:
  • Turn Data Roaming “OFF”
  • Use "Wi-Fi" instead of "Cellular Data"
  • Turn "Fetch New Data" “OFF”
  • Purchase an international data package
  • Reset the usage tracker to zero.
Q. How do I contact Customer Service from abroad?
A: First, try calling "611". In many cases the roaming carrier forwards your call to your home system without charge. Failing that, your home carrier also has a regular (non-800) number that does not incur any per-minute charges. Look for these online or before you leave. For example, the number for Verizon Wireless customer service is +1 908 559 4899.

Q: What is GSM and What Does it Mean to My Phone?
A:
GSM (Global System for Mobile communications, originally Groupe Spaécial Mobile), is a standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute to describe the technical protocol for digital cellular networks used by mobile phones. It is the global standard for mobile communications on 90% of the world's wireless networks, and is available in over 200 countries and territories. AT&T, T-Mobile and some smaller systems in the US use GSM. In almost all cases, your phone must be GSM-compatible to access foreign networks.

The other technology used in the US is CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) which is used by Verizon, Sprint and several other carriers. CDMA is available in only about 40 countries.  Many new Verizon and Sprint phones work on certain GSM systems outside the US.

Q: What is a "SIM"?
A: 
A SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) is a small, removable programming chip that instructs a GSM phone what network to use and your subscriber information such as your phone number and phone book. For travelers, your wireless phone can be modified to access foreign wireless networks by changing the SIM.
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