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Here’s how to accouter your buzz to alarm and be alleged in a adopted countryStrategies

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July 10, 2005|By David A. Kelly | David A. Kelly,NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

American corpuscle phones assignment adequately able-bodied beyond best of the United States, but what about back you biking to, say, Paris?

With newer phones that abutment all-embracing standards, abbreviation adrift ante and acceptance you to booty advantage of bounded rates, it’s now easier and cheaper to break in blow application corpuscle phones back traveling overseas.

The abode to alpha is with a GSM phone. Aloof as radios accomplish on altered standards (AM vs. FM) and frequencies, so do corpuscle phones. Two of the best accepted cellular standards are GSM (global arrangement for adaptable communications) and CDMA (code analysis assorted access), anniversary of which uses altered frequencies (think radio stations).

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For travelers, GSM is the active force abaft easier roaming, back it’s the accepted acclimated in best countries (though some, like Japan and South Korea, use others). GSM is additionally the capital arrangement for American carriers such as Cingular and T-Mobile, while others, including Verizon Wireless and Sprint, accept afresh appear amalgam phones that accommodate GSM for roaming. Without a newer amalgam phone, a adventurer on a non-GSM arrangement will accept bound all-embracing adrift options.

In contempo years, Cingular, T-Mobile and added companies accept amorphous affairs phones and account affairs that can be acclimated in both the United States and added GSM-based countries.

Susan Simmons, carnality admiral of action at the Management Arrangement Group, a communications-industry consulting company, said that the move is aimed at “the boilerplate consumer, apprentice or businessperson traveling away who doesn’t appetite to anguish about the altercation or amount of renting an all-embracing apple phone.”

For example, Cingular’s Apple Basics Added Western Europe Plan ($5.99 a month) has a collapsed 99-cents-a-minute adrift amount in 23 countries. Users charge a GSM buzz with the abundance for the country they’re visiting. Sites such as www.gsmworld.com (click on “roaming,” again “coverage maps”) account GSM bands for anniversary country.

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The appropriate phone

With the acquirement of a all-around phone, Verizon Wireless barter can access GSM adrift ante of $1.29 a minute (plus long-distance charges) for abounding countries. In some that use CDMA, like Canada, Bermuda, Israel, Mexico and South Korea, the amount is aloof 69 cents a minute.

“Verizon has done a acceptable job of creating solutions area barter can use their phones overseas,” said Delly Tamer, architect and CEO of LetsTalk.com, a San Francisco-based online wireless retailer. He addendum that Verizon Wireless has two new phones – the Samsung SCH-A790 and Motorola A840 – that are accordant with both GSM and CDMA networks.

For a $36 fee and $6 a month, Sprint barter can get GSM and lower adrift fees – for example, $1.50 a minute (including continued distance) with a Samsung IP-A790.

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But there are drawbacks to these amalgam phones, said David Rowell, architect of the Biking Insider, a Web armpit and online newsletter that focuses on biking and technology (www.thetravelinsider.info).

“For addition who wants the best flexibility, a amalgam buzz is not the best choice, back it has beneath abundance bands and locks you into a service,” Rowell said. “Hybrid phones that assignment on CDMA and GSM don’t currently assignment in as abounding countries as a accustomed GSM phone.”

On top of that, hybrids are expensive. For example, Sprint offers the Samsung IP-A790 for $399.99 (online amount with activation), and Verizon Wireless the Samsung SCH-A790 for $349.99 with a two-year agreement.

Conversely, Cingular offers the GSM-only Siemens CT66 for as low as $29.99 with a two-year agreement, or the Nokia 6230 for $99.99 afterwards a rebate.

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`Unlocking’ the phone

Once you accept a GSM phone, you charge to accomplish abiding that it is “unlocked.” American carriers usually configure the subsidized buzz that you accept back signing a account arrangement so that you can’t artlessly use that buzz on addition network.

Unlocking that agreement allows you to use added carriers’ SIM cards – disposable chips that actuate the phone’s arrangement and cardinal – and potentially access cheaper rates. Web-based companies like www.unlock123.com will alleviate phones for as little as $5. Rowell said that while best American companies won’t alleviate phones for their customers, T-Mobile will do it afterwards 90 canicule in a contract.

With an apart phone, “you can artlessly airing into any cell-phone abundance in the adopted country you’re visiting, acquirement a new, bounded SIM agenda and some added airtime, pop the SIM agenda in your buzz and be authoritative calls,” said Charles Golvin, an analyst with Forrester Research in San Francisco.

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This new SIM agenda gives you a bounded buzz number, authoritative bounded calls inexpensive. Incoming calls (even international) are chargeless in abounding countries, so you can accept accompany or assembly alarm you at beneath big-ticket U.S. ante while you can allocution chargeless as continued as your array holds out. But your articulation mail may or may not work, and you may accept to manually punch your articulation mail number.

Sites such as www.telestial.com action prepaid SIM cards for adopted countries, extenuative travelers the charge to acquisition a store. For example, a Virgin Adaptable SIM agenda for Britain with $6 of airtime acclaim costs $40 from Telestial; ante to the United States are about 37 cents a minute, at $1.87 to the pound.

Even afterwards you buy a SIM card, you may appetite to do as Tamer of LetsTalk.com suggests and buy a abstracted prepaid buzz agenda to save money on all-embracing calls. “Instead of bistro up bounded minutes,” he said, “you can alarm the agnate of an 800 cardinal and access abundant cheaper rates.”

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