Making the Call: A Mosaic

What is it?

SIM Cards from All Over the World
SIM cards of the world unite, a mosaic.

A SIM card mosaic, of course. While we don’t have a SIM card from every country we’ve visited over the last two years, we certainly have a growing collection.

More evidence that we are gadget and equipment junkies? Not really.

Mobile phone SIM cards are practical. Most cost between $5-$10 and often include equivalent credit for making phone calls and sending SMSs (text messages). Within seconds of popping one into our unlocked mobile phone, we are equipped with a local phone number and able to call guest houses and coordinate dinner plans with locals. Cheap and easy.

The exception? The United States. During our last visit in 2006, we searched high and low to find a reasonably priced pre-paid SIM card. Eventually we did; it set us back $15. Although we doubt it still works, we’ll take it with us to New York this week and we’ll see if we can bring it back to life.

If not, we’ll be on the hunt again…to add to our collection.

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  1. says

    quick question… considering you stayed with me for nearly a month, why did I have to keep sending messages to the Czech Republic number. I see no LT SIM there.


  2. says

    I have a few myself. I always hated how the US was on a different network. Whenever, I go home, you have to get a new phone. However, this recent trip, i discovered AT&T has sim cards but they are expensive and its like 10 cents a minute…

  3. says

    I’ve got a few of those SIM cards myself; Singapore, two from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, … I bought an unlocked (white market) Motorola Razr 3 years ago in Hong Kong, brought it home to USA, couldn’t find anybody who would provide service to me. I was on Sprint in a family plan at the time.

    I refuse to carry several phones. Finally I found that T-Mobile would sell me a monthly plan and a SIM card. I didn’t need to buy one of their phones. I took a two-year contract, but since I was home 5-7 months a year, this worked out fine for me. I kept my old Sprint number, and my business picked up the tab.

    Short answer is, check into T-Mobile. I don’t know what they can do for anybody at the moment, but my unlocked phone and T-Mobile SIM still works here in Texas…

    PS Tomorrow is Uncornered Market Day on the Chile Underground. M

  4. says

    Come to Canada, and you have the same problem. AT&T is the only one that offers ‘unlockable’ cell phones, so at least I can keep the same phone when I travel. My experience: if you don’t use your SIM card for a year, most likely you will have to get a new one.

  5. says

    Tony: PSD, he he. We didn’t expect you to allow us to stay so long.

    Matt: The U.S. mobile system philosophy (not always GSM networks, a bias against prepaid SIM cards, everyone pays…not just the caller) is frustrating, particularly once you’ve become accustomed to networks anywhere else in the world. We’ll check out AT&T (10 cents isn’t so bad…our Vodafone Czech prepaid calls are about .30 cents/minute). That’s why we use SMS so much.

    Mitchell: In 2006, we purchased a Cingular SIM in the US. We’ll definitely check into T-Mobile. Uncornered Market day on Chile Underground? Intrigued…looking forward to it.

    Fida: AT&T may be the only provider that sells unlocked phones with their plans, but you can usually find unlocked phones on Ebay (at least that’s where I bought my Palm Treo 650…it’s a dinosaur, I know). You are probably right about the one-year old SIM card, but maybe if we go to a Cingular shop dressed in our threadbare travel clothes, they’ll find it in their hearts to make an exception 😉

    Sara: Indeed. I feel like we’ve already collected enough to fill a library full of scrapbooks.

  6. jb says

    Not super useful for the long term traveler, but…

    T-Mobile will unlock one phone every 90 days that you’re current in your account. I’ve used my US T-Mobile phone in canada, turkey, china, …. Just call them (611) and ask them if they can unlock your phone. Takes about 10 mins.

    Or… you can head down to your local new-immigrant neighborhood, and look/ask around. they can unlock them in 5 mins for ~$20. And, yes, this is legal. The phone companies don’t like it. And may not support you if they find out, but US courts have held it’s legal.

  7. says

    @jb: Thanks for the tip. We are sorting out the next step in our mobile phone strategy and we’ll keep this in mind as we travel throughout South America, Africa and the Middle East.

  8. says

    @Ronei: Brazilian SIM chips…now there’s one that I’d like to add to the collection. Eventually. Actually, Brazil was in our plans last year, but time got ahead of us. And we want to make sure we spend enough quality time there, rather than speeding through.

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