and US cellphones : do they work?
Do American cellphones
work in France and Europe? The question is often asked.
Currently, about half of all US and Canadian cell
phones will work in France and other parts of Europe; but using your US
phone and service in France comes at a steep price. Fortunately, there
are solutions that will allow you to have very affordable service in
France and Europe. In fact, you can even use your current US or
Canadian cell phone and get unlimited free incoming calls.
to check if your phone works
in France, and find the best solution.
First, you need to find out if your
current phone works internationally. If your phone has the 900 and the
1800 MHz networks, it will work in France with your current carrier.
Many of AT&T’s and T-mobile phones do have these
extra networks for international use. Handsets provided by other
carriers such as Verizon and Sprint on the other hand, with a few
exceptions, do not have the correct networks.
To find out if
your phone works internationally, either consult the handbook or ask
your provider’s customer service representative. It is
recommended that you confirm for yourself that indeed your phone does
have international capabilities as many customer service reps
are not as informed as they should be on international roaming.
► My cell
phone will work in France........
If you confirm
that your phone will work in France, you have two options –
you can either use your phone with your current provider and pay their
rates or you can use your phone with another provider, a French
provider, and pay significantly lower rates.
If you opt for using your US or Canadian
provider’s service, you can expect to pay about $1.00-$1.25 per minute (plus
tax) for all calls in and out. This makes sense if you truly will not
do not intend to use your phone during your trip or if those rates are
acceptable to you. If you plan to use your phone to book restaurants,
call friends, call back home or receive calls and you want to save as
much as possible, it makes sense to purchase a SIM card for France (the
SIM card is the chip that goes in the phone, giving you service).
There are several telecom providers in France
offering cellular service on a prepaid system. SIM cards can be bought
either beforehand from a provider selling them in the US, or obtained
once in France. Purchasing one before your trip makes sense
because you will have the number before you go and the service in hand
when you land.
to the rates of using a US or Canadian provider, rates are
considerably less expensive – especially if you can take
advantage of free incoming calls.
Where’s the catch? There really is no catch but,
a caveat. Obviously, if you are not using AT&T or Verizon, et
al for the service, they do not see a penny. They would much rather you
use their service while you are in France rather than have you use a
French SIM card. Therefore, their phones come
“locked” into their network. That means that if you
swap out their SIM card with another SIM card, in this case a France
SIM card, the phone will not automatically accept the SIM card.
The good news is that your provider can
and will unlock the phone if you ask them to do so. When
you purchase a France SIM card, you essentially become a customer of
the French telecom company on a pay as you go basis. Therefore, you do
not need to sign a contract or fulfill month obligations. You simply
put the SIM card in your phone and add talk time when you need it. When
you’re done with the SIM card you can either discard it or
use it again if and when you return to France. Adding talk time is
simple. You can go to any café or supermarket and ask for a
“carte recharge” or recharge voucher. They come in
denominations from 5 Euros up. Simply enter the pin number from the
voucher onto your handset and, voilà, you have added
additional call credit.
► My Cell
Phone will not
If your cell phone does not work in France you can still use
the same service but you will need to rent or buy a phone.
your trip is only a week or two and you do not travel overseas at least
once a year, it makes sense to rent the phone and get a France SIM
card. If you are a frequent traveler overseas, whether it be to France
or other destinations, it makes more sense to buy the phone as a quad
band GSM phone works in 200 countries with the appropriate SIM card. In
fact, you can even use it in the US or Canada. Some people use it as a
back up or emergency phone or if you have visitors from overseas, you
can let them borrow that handset and have them buy a local pay as you