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Ask Slashdot: SIM-Card Solutions In North America? 146

Posted by timothy
from the not-our-strong-suit dept.
An anonymous reader writes I'll be returning to North America for July for the first time in a few years, and I'm curious how the phone carrier market compares with the rest of the world. My last time in the U.S., I had to pick up a disposable phone with all kinds of unnecessary environmental waste (charger, packaging, etc.), and *still* had to register it with another domestic (!) phone number and credit card. I don't think I could get a SIM card there without a contract. Anywhere else I travel, picking up a new SIM card with pre-loaded credit is trivially easy. In my last trip to the UK, I just put GBP 10 into a vending machine at the airport and picked up a loaded SIM card for my phone which aldready has my contacts and settings. No ID, no name, no hassle. What are the best options for me in North America (U.S. *and* Canada)?
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Ask Slashdot: SIM-Card Solutions In North America?

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  • by sconeu (64226) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @11:39AM (#47340957) Homepage Journal

    T-Mobile has a pay-as-you go SIM. I think AT&T does, too.

    T-Mobile's is cheaper, but they have coverage issues (may not be a problem, depending on where you go).

    See also this story [slashdot.org].

    • by scream at the sky (989144) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @11:53AM (#47341039) Homepage

      Prepaid service in Canada sucks ass.

      Services like Wind and Mobilicity are dirt cheap, offering unlimited voice and data, but stop working as soon as you leave your major urban areas. They also use AWS frequencies, so unless you have a phone that works on 1700 HSPA you're SOL. If you are going to Canada first, look at Wind because they also have an offer where you can get unlimited US Roaming on your account for $15, this would save the need to pick up a second SIM while in the US.

      The big 3 (Rogers, Telus, Bell) frankly don't give a crap about prepaid service, and charge so much for it that it makes more sense to go onto a contract plan and cancel service the same day you leave the country (no more 30 day notice required thanks to the CRTC and the WCOC. Rogers gives the best compatibility with hardware (GSM 850,1900, a fist full of HSPA and LTE Frequencies as well) where Telus and Bell only support HSPA (850, 1900) or LTE on a handful of frequencies.

      If you are just going to be in major urban areas Chat-R Wireless (which is just a Rogers Wireless sub brand) has the best rates, but as soon as you are outside of a major urban area your pay through the nose in domestic roaming charges, and the biggest data plan they offer is 200MB for a month (if this matters to you). I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think Chat-R offers a nano sim, so if you have an iPhone 5/5S/5C or an HTC One M* you're SOL as well,

      Expect the SIM to cost you between $10 and $20, as well as your first month service upfront.

      Disclosure: Industry pro, I've worked in the Canuck retail telecom industry since '99. I've worked for every provider in the country in one aspect or another, and they all suck, I'm cynical and jaded about it, so take advice with a grain of salt, the size of a Buick.

      • by c6gunner (950153) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @12:21PM (#47341139)

        Prepaid service in Canada sucks ass.

        Depends on your needs. In Canada I tend to go with Koodo mobile; pay $15 for the month as a base charge, then buy however much data or voice I'll need. I conserve my data usage so 1 gig of 4G data can cost me for 4-5 months. And both data and voice with them are "Canada wide", so no roaming or long distance charges, plus they never expire. I had my phone with them for a full year, and on average it's cost me about $25 / month, total.

        In the US, on the other hand, I tend to shell out the $60 per month so I can have unlimited data and calling. Unfortunately you're right about Canada not really having any decent offerings for "unlimited use".

        I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think Chat-R offers a nano sim, so if you have an iPhone 5/5S/5C or an HTC One M* you're SOL as well,

        You can walk into any cellphone repair shop and have them punch your existing sim to a nano.

        • Mini SIM to Micro SIM can be punched no problem, but I sell a lot of nano sims because someone tried to punch their existing sim down to a Nano, only to find that the entire nano sim (plastic frame included) is smaller than the cut out area, and their sim is now ruined.
        • by Pubstar (2525396)
          I'm paying $60/month right now for unlimited everything on T Mobile, but I don't get throttled data (yes, I did get full LTE speed for 37GB one month), and it includes tethering. If you are not as data heavy as I am, you can easily get an unlimited plan for $40, if not less.
      • by Michalson (638911) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @01:47PM (#47341487)

        If you are only going to use it in Canada either 7-Eleven's "Speakout" or Petro Canada Gas Station's "Petro Canada Mobility" provide a cheap way of getting onto Roger's Canada wide network without any of the restrictions they slap on their in-house brands Chatr and Fido. There used to be a nice cheap way to get data but since they starting offering Android phones you'll get the same insane fee (10$ for 100mb) as the other Canadian carriers but without any unlimited option. SIM cards are $5-$15 dollars depending on current promotions and you can purchase a SIM card, airtime or phone over the counter in 30 seconds (just make sure you say clearly which provider you want airtime for, these are gas station/convience store clerks, not telecom pros). Speakout tends to be slightly cheaper/better package deals but 7-Eleven locations in Canada are few and far between.

        I'll agree that Wind does offer a good deal if you want to go outside of Canada, not just in the US but their roaming rates are far more competitive then other Canadian carriers.

        But you might want to look into what roaming rates you can get from a carrier in your own country first, they might be better.

        • by j-beda (85386)

          7-11 has a "fan-constructed" website with lots of good info at http://www.speakoutwireless.ca... [speakoutwireless.ca] and their "official" one is at http://speakout7eleven.ca/ [speakout7eleven.ca]

          You can order a SIM online for postal delivery (maybe only to Canada?) or walk into a 7-11 and pick one up directly. I think they only do regular or mini-SIMs, so you'll need to cut it for a micro-SIM size. https://www.google.ca/search?q... [google.ca]

          If you are on the west coast, find someone who uses Shaw for their ISP and get them to give you a Shaw login/email on

      • by TrevorB (57780)

        Virgin Mobile has a semi-decent pay-as-you-go option for Canada: $0.35/min for phone calls, with a 100MB/mo Data Addon for $10, or 500MB/mo for $20. or 1GB/mo for $30. It's better than having a recurring data plan, you can just walk in and get a SIM card, and it works well enough for me, I end up paying about $22-23/mo. Works great in my unlocked Nexus 4.

    • by Albanach (527650)

      Clearly you want GSM, so that means AT&T or T-mobile in the United States. AT&T has much better coverage nationwide, but if T-Mobile has coverage where you are heading they are great.

      You can get a Net10 sim with unlimited calls, texts and 2.5GB of internet access, and pay $50/month. They're an AT&T MVNO. Probably not as cheap as you've seen in Europe, but it's pretty good when compared to most other plans. Net10 sim cards are available on Amazon.com I don't know if you can find it in stores.

    • I tried to get just a sim card from AT&T. They told me that they sell them, but only to people who already have a monthly account. T-Mobile roams on AT&T towers.
      • by puto (533470)
        You are either lying are did not go to an official AT&T store. http://www.att.com/shop/wirele... [att.com]
        • by Macrat (638047)

          Yeah, I had a similar problem with a friend visiting the US again and forgot to bring his currently active prepay T-Mobile SIM.

          He stopped in a mall near the airport to have his prepay account switched to a new SIM and they tried to sell him a phone. That's when I had to explain to him that the mall kiosks are 3rd parties reselling T-Mobile services and are not actual T-Mobile stores.

          I took him to an actual T-Mobile store and they had him set up in a few minutes.

        • Or, I was lied to. Or, they changed the policy since then. Or, they apply different policies to different regions. In the legal section of the link you posted it says "service activation required" (ie, you can't just buy a sim and send it to somebody. You, the purchaser, have to set up an account as an att customer as part of receiving the sim).

          I could say "You are either too stupid to think up any other explanation or you deliberately want to crate a false dichotomy." But really, who knows why you wri
    • by Anonymous Coward

      T-Mobile has a pay-as-you go SIM. I think AT&T does, too.

      T-Mobile's is cheaper, but they have coverage issues (may not be a problem, depending on where you go).

      See also this story [slashdot.org].

      This. They do a day by day deal for $3 a day - 200mb of 3g data and then unlimited Edge/GPRS + unlimited US calls.
      Take an unlocked phone.

      Works well in my experience in SF.

    • by Larryish (1215510)

      Dunno about the maple syrup folks, but in the States you can get StraightTalk "bring your own phone" package at Walmart for around $60.00. Their unlimited prepaid service plans run $45 per month before taxes.

      Moved to their service from ATT and save almost $40 per month.

    • by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Sunday June 29, 2014 @02:37AM (#47343635)

      If you're going to Canada first then the US, you're in luck because there's a really easy SIM to get for Canadians heading South.

      It's called Roam Mobility [roammobility.com] and they're a US MVNO that sells their SIMs in Canada (if you're on the west coast, head into a London Drugs [londondrugs.com] store, go to the cell department and ask to buy a Roam Mobility SIM.

      If not, they do sell the SIMs online. It's a fairly nice option for Canadians heading to the US for days, weeks or a month. And it's pretty much no-questions-asked - you just buy the SIM and activate it online for however long you need.

      In Canada, well, prepaid generally is a bigger bother - while you can buy SIMs by heading to a store, they aren't too happy about selling them (less money for them). As an earlier poster said, you probably want to use Wind or Mobilicity if you can (if you do Wind, pay for the US package and you can roam in the US as well, which isn't too bad a deal)., but you will need a phone that can do AWS (e.g., the iPhone 5/5s can, last I checked, as well as the other regular bands). They can sell you one, but beware that unlocked ones like Nexus phones are WILDLY overpriced (I've seen a Nexus 4 be almost $600 - yes, you could walk into an Apple Store and get the iPhone 5. The Nexus 4 sold for around $250 or so off Google Play). But that's only if your current phone doesn't do AWS (I mention the iPhone 5 because it does, as well as regular bands from other carriers. I do know that there often are special AWS models of popular Android flagships like the SGS3 (a friend tried to activate one and couldn't because it didn't do AWS), and I think the Nexus 4 couldn't either unless you got the special one.)

      Oh, and no carrier, despite having the "no contract price" on the phone will ever sell you a handset for that price unless you actually were in a contract and wanted an out-of-sync upgrade. Other than Wind or Mobilicity, who are prepaid services, that is. (As I'm no longer in a contract, well, it means my phone options in Canada are limited to Apple if I wanted in-store service, or Google if I wanted to put up with Google Play (bleh - I got burned badly with the Nexus 7 when I could buy it retail for cheaper, and have it sooner than when Google finally fulfilled my order! I mean, I could walk into a store and buy one, or order it online for free shipping and have it in my hand a couple of weeks sooner (stupid UPS)).

      • Oh, and no carrier, despite having the "no contract price" on the phone will ever sell you a handset for that price unless you actually were in a contract and wanted an out-of-sync upgrade

        As long as 'carrier' is 'major carrier' that is likely true. I know that many MVNOs don't limit themselves. PCMobile( http://www.pcmobile.ca/ [pcmobile.ca] ) is a small brand, with the large backing of Loblaws (a Canadian grocery empire). They have only a small selection of phones, and they are all locked. Their prepaid rides on the Bell network, and their postpaid is on the Telus network. But at least their rates are clear, and any time I have to phone support, it really appears that they have not offshored their call

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Currently doing a trip in the middle of the country, and coverage of T-Mobile is very bad in at least WY,CO and NM. I see At&t and some unknown local carrier, but no T-mobile on any rural GSM mast I drive by. Waste of money unless you stay in a city. There it works nicely.

  • by HornWumpus (783565) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @11:41AM (#47340973)

    You can pay cash for a SIM at just about any big box vendor.

    But US phones are mostly frequency locked to carriers.

    If you are lucky (or are willing to settle for edge data rates) you can likely find a network that your phone works on. That will lead you to a group of pre-paid SIM vendors.

    It starts with which network your phone will work on and how well. Do your research.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      But US phones are mostly frequency locked to carriers.

      While that may be true, it's pretty easy to avoid such phones. Just going with a GSM provider takes care of most of it.

      • by EvilJoker (192907)

        Phones are rarely (intentionally) locked by frequency. Most are locked by SIM [wikipedia.org].

        Frequency locking happens when a phone simply doesn't support frequencies used by another carrier. A quick glance at this chart [wikipedia.org] shows that GSM carriers are no better than CDMA on supporting more frequencies.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Frequency locking happens when a phone simply doesn't support frequencies used by another carrier. A quick glance at this chart shows that GSM carriers are no better than CDMA on supporting more frequencies.

          Most phones that are expensive enough to care about are quad-band anyway, so that covers basic phone functionality. And since the USA is one of the most primitive cellphone markets in the world, it's not hard to find a phone which covers the commonly used "high-speed" wireless technologies, either. The provider lock is a bigger deal, but it's rare it costs more than $15 for an online unlock.

    • by schnell (163007) <me@scLAPLACEhnell.net minus math_god> on Saturday June 28, 2014 @12:46PM (#47341241) Homepage

      But US phones are mostly frequency locked to carriers.

      Kinda sorta used to be more but not so much now.

      Part of the confusion comes from the fact that, unlike pretty much the rest of the world, US carriers did not standardize on the GSM technology family. Back in the day, AT&T and T-Mobile chose GSM, while Verizon and Sprint chose the CDMA technology family. So right there you had incompatible technologies between carriers that didn't exist most anywhere else in the world (except for Japan and Korea, mainly).

      Phones built to run on the GSM family of technologies use SIM cards and are generally "SIM-swappable." Some phones, typically the ones bought on a contract for a discount, are "SIM-locked" to a carrier meaning that the phone has to be unlocked by the original carrier before the phone can be used with a SIM from another carrier. However, pretty much all cheap/prepaid phones are not SIM locked and can be swapped easily. Phones built to run on CDMA family of technologies do not use SIM cards so are a moot point for "SIM swapping."

      Oh, and don't forget this in your research - there are at least three popular SIM card sizes roaming (no pun intended) in the wild these days, and they are mutually incompatible. So don't expect to take the full-sized SIM out of your feature phone and transfer it to the micro SIM slot of a Galaxy S4 or the nano SIM slot of an iPhone 5s ... although of course you can buy adapters that will make smaller SIMs fit into larger slots.

      In case you're wondering, the fact that all four major US carriers are using LTE nowadays should make the situation less complicated, but it really doesn't. That's because there are virtually no phones out there that use LTE exclusively. Unless your carrier has VoLTE deployed, your "LTE" phone is just using LTE for data but is falling back to 3G CDMA or GSM/HSPA to make your voice calls. So even though every LTE phone has a SIM, phones on legacy CDMA carriers aren't full "SIM-swappable."

      Long story short - SIM swappability these days is far less about carrier locking and more about SIM sizes and which network you're trying to use. Good luck!

      • by Briareos (21163) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @01:21PM (#47341365)

        Oh, and don't forget this in your research - there are at least three popular SIM card sizes roaming (no pun intended) in the wild these days, and they are mutually incompatible. So don't expect to take the full-sized SIM out of your feature phone and transfer it to the micro SIM slot of a Galaxy S4 or the nano SIM slot of an iPhone 5s ... although of course you can buy adapters that will make smaller SIMs fit into larger slots.

        Except of course that SIM cards are mostly plastic, with a smart-card-y bit where the contacts are, so it's perfectly possible to cut a regular SIM card down to whatever size you need as long as you use a template and a pair of scissors or one of the cheap SIM cutters you can get on Amazon or ask the guys in the next phone shop to do it for you...

        I used a mini SIM in my Motorola Milestone until I got a Samsung S3 when it came out and I needed a micro SIM card - converting my SIM was a rather short and simple home crafting project.

      • by whoever57 (658626)

        I am not sure what the point of your post was, since it seems to be mostly irrelevant.

        As far as I can tell, the person asking the question wants to just get a SIM card and put it into his already unlocked phone. Obviously, he needs to ask for the right size SIM (to match his exisitng phone) when buying.

        So, the only question is whether his phone supports the necessary frequencies and standards for either AT&T's or T-Mobile's network.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        >there are at least three popular SIM card sizes roaming (no pun intended) in the wild these days,
        >and they are mutually incompatible. So don't expect to take the full-sized SIM out of your feature
        >phone and transfer it to the micro SIM slot of a Galaxy S4 or the nano SIM slot of an iPhone 5s

        There are 3 SIM sizes:
        -full
        -micro
        -nano

        No wait, let's do that again:
        There are 4 SIM size:
        -full
        -mini
        -micro
        -nano

        What you think is full, is actually mini. A full sized simcard is like the smartcard on your bank/cre

    • by toonces33 (841696)

      I have seen SIM card vending machines near the luggage retrieval at some international airports in the U.S.

      U.S. phones aren't so much frequency locked to carriers - they are what they call "subsidy locked" to one specific carrier, but that happens when you purchase a phone from a U.S. carrier. If you are coming from outside of the U.S., and have an unlocked phone, then all you should need is the SIM card.

      Some older phones had a more limited set of frequency bands - my old Motorola Razr was a "quad-band" ph

    • You can pay cash for a SIM at just about any big box vendor.

      Sorry old chap, don't get your banter.

      What's a "big box vendor"? Somoeone who sells big boxes? Most sim cards I've seen are rather small.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have seen displays selling SIM cards and cheap cell phones in several grocery stores in my area (Arlington, VA). However, I haven't tried any of them.

    When I got my GSM smartphone for use in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world, I got a SIM card from H2O Wireless at https://www.h2owirelessnow.com/mainControl.php?page=index . I've used that SIM card for over a year now with no contract and no problems. You could probably order a SIM card from them before you leave for the states and thus have it with

  • by steak (145650) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @11:51AM (#47341029) Homepage Journal

    go to any gas station in the ghetto and buy all the sim you want.

  • by Kagato (116051) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @11:54AM (#47341043)

    For the most reasonable rates I'd go with Straight Talk (WalMart) for GSM or Ting for CDMA service. Not sure if you can get away with not giving a name, but neither need any form of contract. I would skip the airport Kiosk and go right to a WalMart of Target for the pre-paid cards.

    • and by going into WalMart you get to see the amazing weird side of American culture, bonus!
    • You can buy a SIM and a month of service online from Straight Talk as well. They also support CDMA phones (but you get to use the Sprint network in that case). Straight Talk is actually a brand owned by TracPhone. In any case spare yourself the trip to Wallyworld, its not really worth seeing unless you're actually here and needing something NOW.

    • I second straightalk. You don't need a credit card - just buy the $45 dollar sim kit and you can choose att, tmobile or verizon - a full month unlimited talk, text, data all included. They also have a 60 dollar international plan.

      Don't screw up the activation - dont port your number. Just get a new number - otherwise you have phone hell. And straighttalk phone service is awful. But the phone service is great. Go figure...

      • Should be straightalk customer service is awful, as I said the phone service is great.

        • by james_pb (156313)

          Should be straightalk customer service is awful, as I said the phone service is great.

          Awful is relative. I'm a happy straighttalk customer; at various times I've been an unhappy customer with Sprint, TMobile, and ATT contracts. You'd have a hard time convincing me straighttalk is worse than any of those - but they're all variations on bad. Absolute worst case, you wave goodbye to straighttalk early in a month, and you're out something like $45. No early termination fees makes it much easier to deal with bad service.

  • BestBuy sells H2O wireless SIMs that do not come with phones. The card says use with any unlocked GSM phone.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > BestBuy sells H2O wireless SIMs that do not come with phones. The card says use with any unlocked GSM phone.

      I use H2O Wireless. It even works with GSM phones that are carrier locked to AT&T. I know it because that's what I'm using, never even had to register with ATT, just bought the phone at wal-mart and bough the H2O sim at bestbuy. It is a really good deal for very low volume callers, I spend $10 for 100 minutes that last 3 months.

      Another alternative is Lyca - which anyone from Europe will al

      • I use H2O Wireless. It even works with GSM phones that are carrier locked to AT&T.

        presumably because it's a MVNO on the AT&T network.

  • ATT T-Mobile and resellers (at 7-11,etc) all offer SIM cards without contract.

  • There are a bunch of companies selling SIM cards online (e.g. Telestial), both for the US and for global roaming; just search on Google. I've found that kind of mail-order to be the best source for SIM cards for travel.

    Walmart, some electronics retailers, and some drugstores also sell cheap prepaid SIM cards that are easy to activate.

    Since only half of US carriers use GSM, your choices are a bit limited. Also, most Americans apparently prefer subsidized phones and subscription plans, since the prepaid BYOP

    • by james_pb (156313)

      There are a bunch of companies selling SIM cards online (e.g. Telestial), both for the US and for global roaming; just search on Google.

      When I looked at these, they had crazy pricing for data. It only made sense if you were going through a different country every other day and couldn't be bothered with local sims.

  • Question is stupid (Score:5, Informative)

    by kamapuaa (555446) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @12:22PM (#47341147) Homepage

    Instead of asking Slashdot such a silly question you could also just google getting a gsm sim card in the us [google.com].

    Lo and behold!

    #1) "The best Prepaid SIM Cards" [pcmag.com]
    #2) "SIM Cards - Best Buy" [bestbuy.com]

    It's been trivial to do this for about a decade and 5 seconds of googling got me the answer. This is one of the stupidest ask slashdots ever, and they are almost all incredibly stupid. I'm not looking and I'm going to guess tImothy put this story up.
    checks the top of the page
    Yup. Fuck timothy.

    • by ve3oat (884827)
      "Instead of asking Slashdot such a silly question ..." You are way off base. I am a Canadian who isn't very happy with my mobile phone service and the OP's question is very relevant as I don't know enough about the technical parameters to just google an answer to my concerns. The answers here have been, largely, very informative for me. This is all about what is so very wrong with the Canadian mobile phone market and the regulations governing it, and I expect it extends to the U.S. market as well. I ju
      • I don't know enough about the technical parameters to just google an answer to my concerns

        With search engines, you simply start out with a simple "global" question, and narrow it down. If you can't ask the "big question" and narrow it down based on search results, that you really don't know what you're asking in the first place.

        • by ve3oat (884827)
          Yep! That's why reading answers on Slashdot to other people's well-formulated questions is so rewarding. You can learn a lot in a short period of time.
    • This is one of the stupidest ask slashdots ever, and they are almost all incredibly stupid.

      This trend is not just with the "Ask Slashdot". Dice decided that they wanted to expand the Slashdot Audience to the variety store magazine rack PCmeg crowd - Slashdot Beta is a part of that project. It's all about maximizing page-views before flushing the whole thing down the toilet.

    • Question is not stupid. Maybe OP should have said what part of America they are returning to, but, where I live nothing in #1 or #2 works for me.

      I had T-Mobile for a while, but there is no data plan with it, texts took several days to get to people, but voice worked. They were nice about cancelling my contract. ,br>
      We have two providers in town, Viaero and Verizon. The Verizon pay-as-you-go plan was $10 more expensive a month and they wouldn't let me use my unlocked phone on their system. I don't kn
  • You have a 4 band GSM phone, right?

    I had to pick up a disposable phone

    This would be the case if your GSM phone only supported the two EU bands. Or if you mistakenly walked into a shop that handled non-GSM carriers (Verizon).

    Have a 4 band phone and go to an AT&T or T-Mobile shop (or reseller) and pick up a prepaid SIM. No problem. Your phone isn't carrier locked, as you can swap SIMs in the EU. Using that phone here will not be a problem here. Carrier locks are used if you buy a phone on contract (to keep you from skippig out on paying t

  • Go to Best Buy, get a sim card for $10. Go online, activate. Minutes are in $10 increments good for 90 days, 5c a minute for talk and text

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      The problem I encountered last time I tried that I was offered two options, either a phone packaged with it or to lock my private phone to that SIM.

      • you have to select the pay as you go option. activating the sim will give you a new phone number which you may then toss when you are done with your time in the US. I would suggest forwarding your old phone to the temporary number or telling those from where ever it is you are coming from that do need to still contact you the temporary number.

  • Get an unlocked phone that has a sim socket.. Buy prepay sim cards off the shelf.. at anything from a drugstore, grocery to a kiosk at the mall. I have even seen them at gas stations lately..

    All done. ( for the US anyway, i assume Canada has stores that sell them too )

    And if you want to be really fancy, get one of those multi-band dual socket china phones. ( i have one, it can do both at&T/t-mobile style GSM and Verizon CDMA.... *at the same time* even... )

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There's a vending machine next to a data center there, put in USD$10 or BTC equivelant for your very own SIM card no questions asked. Just ignore the pinprick when you go to pull out the card. The card you get will be NSA certified to be Unmonitored(tm).

  • The UK system of vending machines in the airport is extremely convenient (and the vending machines typically support a bunch of languages and different network sims too), i wish other countries did something similar...

    You can buy prepaid sims in most countries but often not in the airport, and quite often the pricing will only be displayed in the local language etc so it can be hard to work out what you're actually getting for your money (and quite easy to get ripped off in the small phone shops).

    I just wan

  • My carrier '3' has a deal where calls & texts in the US come out of my UK 10GBP/Month deal.
    That's right, no roaming.....

    I was over there last month and it seems that you have to use the 'T-Mobile' network. This is fine in the Cities but in many areas there was only AT&T or no signal at all. I was in the Rockies so this might not be the case for other parts on the US.

    This has to be the way forward for all networks. Now if only I could get rid of roaming charges in India and other countries that I vis

  • If you have network connection on most of the places you go and you have a smartphone, you could just use VoIP. I use http://www.poivy.com/en/index.... [poivy.com] whenever I am not in Belgium and it works great for me.
    There are many more out there. I do not need an incoming number, but there will be VoIP providers who have that as well.

    Prices will vary depending on the country you come from. Using your own server at home might also be an option.

  • Get Freephoneline. Pick up a sim with Data.
  • I have used Straight Talk for years. They sell BYOP activation kits. It comes with 4 sim card and a CDMA activation code. micro/nano AT&T, micro/nano T-Mobile. I use AT&T Straight Talk.

    With the Nexus 5 you take the micro AT&T, and you get unlimited talk, text and data (up to 3GB on 4G, the rest on a throttle) for 45/mo. Its also got LTE as well as HSPA+/HSDPA.

    There is a 60/mo plan that allows SMS and calls to international numbers if you need it.

    I prepay a year at a time and get this for $495 f

  • If you're planning ahead, some vendors on Amazon sell sim cards, including Net10 sim cards, international sim cards, and others. I believe that if you have an Amazon account anywhere, your login works in Amazon for any other country (My only experience is having an account in USA and buying stuff on Amazon.de). If you have the card before you leave, that is simplest and provides the most functionality. Then, if you want to shop for a sim card with a better rate, your phone will be working while you do so
  • I bought an AT&T micro-SIM for my Samsung Galaxy S3 for $40 in May this year. That came with 500MB of data, there are other plans as well. If I'd loaded it up with enough there was some advantage if I was planning on spending more time in the USA within the year.

    I simply walked into an AT&T store in Hollywood, asked, and got great service.

    The only issue was when in some small towns that only had service from some other provider (I think it was Page AZ which only had CellularOne).

  • Try the 7-11 "Speak Out" sim card. The sim card is $10 and can be used in most modern phones. Then you buy minute cards. The best part is instead of the minutes only being active for one month, they are good for a whole year. So, buy a $25 card and you have an emergency phone that has minutes for a year.
  • To be cheap and cheerful in the US you need an MVNO that works on the GSM networks here: ATT or T-Mo. dslreports.com is another good resource for user feedback in the forums about the services. I have lycamobile, which would be expensive if you're a heavy data user. It uses T-Mo, which is fine where I am (Los Angeles), but coverage can be spotty. Don't know anything about Canada.
  • T-Mobile service offers good prices, but there are a couple of catches to watch out for.

    1. If you have a non-US phone that does not offer AWS band (1700 and 2100 MHz) coverage, you will not be able to get 3G data service in smaller cities (the ones that do not yet have LTE service). T-Mobile originally operated HSPA+ on that band; more recently they moved it to 1900 MHz (reducing or eliminating EDGE service to make room) and operate LTE on the AWS frequencies.

    2. Most retail outlets only have the full size S

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