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Are Your Calling Around?

Are You Calling Around?
by Gary Woods

If you're planning on using your cell phone abroad you'll need one that uses a protocol called GSM. Unfortunately only AT&T and T-Mobile use this protocol. Also you'll need either a tri-band or a quad-band phone to work both locally and abroad. The phones are usually called World Phones and include the Palm Treo smartphones, the Motorola Razrs and Research In Motion BlackBerries.

If you want to keep the same number out of the country you'll need to talk to you carrier before you leave and activate International Roaming. With this feature you can send and receive calls in over 100 countries. Unfortunately the service costs between $1 and $3 per minute.

If you think you're going to be making a lot of calls when you're away you might want to look into using a local number for wherever you are. All GSM phones have a small smart card known as a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) which identifies the phone on the network. In many countries you can buy a SIM pre-paid card which gives you a local phone number.

You can purchase an international SIM before you leave from a site such as Cellular Abroad (, ekit ( or Telestial (

If you're going to purchase a SIM card you're going to have to get AT&T or T-Mobile to unlock the phone for you. The companies will normally do this for you after you've been with then for a few months and paid your bill on time.

Happy traveling, call me when you're in Europe!

If you have any suggestions or questions for me please drop me a note at or see my column on the Internet at or call me at (805) 729-0910

Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. You can hear Gary on the Radio at 1290 AM Monday 9-10 AM and he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc