Cell Phone Service for The United Kingdom
by Sebastian Harrison
Cell phone service and coverage in the United Kingdom is superior to that of either the United States or Canada. The British pay very little for their cellular service. Here is how you, as a traveler to England, Wales or any other destination in the UK, can take advantage of these extremely low rates that are just fractions of what it would cost to rent a cell phone.
As with most countries in the world, the UK has opted to utilize the GSM standard for their cellular service. GSM offers digital service that is so crystal clear that it is difficult to discern if you are on a cellphone or using a landline. Unless you are in a very remote area, you will most likely have coverage. In the United Kingdom, as in many other countries in the world nowadays, many people don't even bother having a home phone. If you think about it, if the service is good, and it is in the UK, what is the point of having a landline? If you are traveling to the UK and want to use your current cell phone, you most likely will not be able to do so. Unless you have a GSM tri-band phone, you will need to make special arrangements with your current carrier. They will rent you a handset with what is called a SIM chip (Subscriber Information Module) inserted into the phone. The SIM chip is the brain of the phone, containing such information as the cell phone number, voice mail and call logs. Getting set up in this manner with your current service provider will allow you to retain your US phone number and receive and make calls anywhere in the world. Usually there is a monthly fee for being able to use the service internationally plus high roaming rates (call rates) and other applicable charges such as renting the handset and having it delivered to you.
Another alternative is to rent a cell phone with service. You can rent a cell phone for the UK in Heathrow or other international airports or through many of the traditional channels such as the yellow pages. Rates are generally $25-$50 per week for the handset rental plus charges for actually placing and receiving calls. There are usually minimum per day or per week usage rates, regardless if you use the service or not. Alternatively, and this is by far the least expensive alternative, you can use the same service that the Brits use. You will be paying local rates which are inexpensive and include unlimited, free incoming calls from anywhere in the world. Calls to the US cost approximately $0.25 per minute, which is inexpensive, but to save even further or if your credit is low, you may ask people to call you back on your cellular number. That way you can literally speak on the phone for hours and not incur any charge. While the person calling you will be paying for an international call, rates to the UK are very reasonable - especially if he or she chooses the right provider. In order to take advantage of paying local cellular rates you must obtain a GSM cell phone compatible with the British system and also SIM card for the UK.
The United Kingdom, like most
countries in the world, uses the 900/1800 GSM frequency, so, you will need to
obtain this type of GSM phone, and, you must make sure that it is unlocked.
GSM phones come from the manufacturer unlocked - it is the carrier that locks
them. You will also need to obtain a prepaid UK SIM card. You can obtain both
the SIM card and the phone from cellularabroad.com.
A prepaid UK SIM card allows you to slip the card into your GSM phone, and,
since it is prepaid, you will not have any restricting contracts or minimal
use requirements. You should obtain your SIM card and cellphone prior to your
trip for a couple of reasons. First, if you have it prior to your trip you can
give out your phone number immediately. Also, it is very convenient to be able
to make a call as soon as you land. And conveniently, many cell phones have
voice activated dialing so that you can make easily make your calls with only
one hand - while the other is holding your umbrella!
For further information Click here to visit Cellular Abroad.
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