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laptop and cell phone from usa to paris

Dallas, Texas
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laptop and cell phone from usa to paris

I have a chance to visit friends in paris soon, but need to be somewhat tethered still to work by my laptop and my cell phone. Assuming i work out a power converter for my laptop, will the WIFI that is advertised with my hotel (hotel le quartier bastille in 11th) work for access to the internet? Anything I should know about the access? I have a wireless card in my laptop; it works in most US airports. I have already determined that my sprint treo will not work over there, so i will probably rent a phone at cdg or use one of the sites posted to get one delivered to the hotel. Is there a better way?

Toronto
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1. Re: laptop and cell phone from usa to paris

you can buy a phone in France for as little as 50USD. Don't know how much you're going to pay if you were to rent.

Paris 4th Arr
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2. Re: laptop and cell phone from usa to paris

<<Assuming i work out a power converter for my laptop, will the WIFI that is advertised with my hotel (hotel le quartier bastille in 11th) work for access to the internet?>>

--Power for your laptop - Unless it's an antique, your laptop most likely supports power from 110VAC to 240VAC, 50/60hz. France and most of Europe operate at 230VAC, 50hz power. Check the label on your power adaptor. If it does support 230 volts, you simply need to buy a plug adaptor and that's cheap.

--WIFI is the same here as it is in the states. Without exception, every hotel I've ever stayed in that offered WIFI has worked fine. There's also a lot of free WIFI around Paris. For instance McDonald's offers free WIFI to customers in all their stores.

Italy/Alaska
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3. Re: laptop and cell phone from usa to paris

I just received this newsletter today from another American living in Paris......

Using a Cellular Telephone in Paris

Conventionally, having a cell phone to use while you were abroad was considered not only an expensive luxury, but also somewhat of an inconvenience to acquire. In recent years--and although this perception remains--rates and procedures have become such that virtually anyone traveling abroad can afford to have a cell phone, including those going to France. There are two well-known options for obtaining cellular service in France, both of them rather expensive. There is, however, a lesser-known yet much more cost- effective way to make and receive cellular phone calls while in this popular country.

Ironically, the most common way to obtain cell phone access in France--renting a cell phone--is also the most expensive and inconvenient. There are many cell phone rental companies that offer service for France. Typically, you will need to rent a handset for the required amount of time plus pay for the airtime usage. Airtime rates do vary but they average approximately $1.50-$2.00 per minute for incoming calls or calls placed within France with calls placed internationally running slightly higher. With your rented phone, you'd receive an international phone number, usually from the UK. You will need to sign a contract with the cellular rental company plus leave a deposit. Cell phone rental agencies are commonly found in most international airports. Renting a cell phone may be a practical solution for those who decide they need a cell phone at the spur of the moment and for those who didn't have time to make other less-expensive arrangements.

Another alternative is to "roam" with your current US or Canadian carrier - provided they offer international service. Depending on the carrier, rates will be slightly less expensive than the cell phone rental option and the procedure is usually also less cumbersome. Unless you are with a GSM carrier and have what is known as a tri-band cell phone, they will need to provide you with a GSM phone that is compatible for use overseas. They will either rent or sell you an international phone and you will be billed directly on your statement. Keep in mind that you will retain your US number. While this might sound convenient, inevitably you will be receiving non-essential calls while you are in France -- calls that will be quickly running up your bill. This approach is most suitable for those who absolutely need to be reached at their US cell phone number and at any expense. It is very important to note that with this option every outgoing call will be an international call! If you want to make a reservation at the quaint bistro down the street, that's an international call. If you want one of the locals to reach you, you'll be asking them to make an international call. So much for U.S.-French relations.

The third approach, although the least known, is by far the most cost-effective for obtaining cellular service while in France. Basically, this involves obtaining the same cell phone service as French residents and therefore paying the same rates as the French pay. One of the greatest benefits with this option is being able to receive unlimited free incoming calls from anywhere in the world. Just this single aspect alone makes obtaining a cell phone worthwhile for many travelers needing to stay in touch while in France. However, there are also a number of other benefits that the French cell phone users enjoy. These other benefits include pay-as-you-go service (no contracts), low domestic and international outgoing rates and fantastic coverage and reception. Rates are approximately $0.50 for domestic calls anywhere within France and $0.80 to call internationally within Europe or to the US or Canada. Using the French cellular system means you will have a French phone number. If you meet French locals and want to give your phone number out, they are not forced to dial an international number.

In order to obtain the same service that the French use, you will need to have two basic elements--a GSM cell phone that is compatible for France and a French SIM card. In France, as in 194 other countries in the world, cellular service providers have elected to utilize the GSM system (Global System for Mobile Communications). GSM is the world's predominant mobile phone standard, which was first adopted in Europe and then spread throughout Asia, Africa and the Pacific Rim (Australia, New Zealand, etc.). This explains why the same cell phone that works in Paris also works in Johannesburg, Beijing and Sydney. The United States however did not standardize and it was left to the competing wire carriers to create whatever standard they wished including CDMA and TDMA. Only recently has the US aggressively embraced the GSM standard. Carriers such as T-Mobile, Cingular and AT&T now use the GSM standard in the majority of the markets they serve. However, even the GSM standard that we use in the US and Canada is not compatible overseas. This is why many US outbound travelers have difficulty getting wireless coverage when they are overseas without paying $1-$7/minute. Once you have a GSM phone, at least if it has the capability of working on all three of the GSM frequencies, you can use it virtually all over the world - as long as it s not "locked." A locked phone means that the phone will only accept a SIM card from a specific carrier, hence it is "locked" into that carrier. Many cellular providers around the world engage in this practice, including every GSM carrier in the U.S. Therefore, if you do get a tri-band GSM cell phone, make sure that it is unlocked so that you can freely use it the way you please in any country featuring GSM service.

The other necessary element for having cellular service in France is the SIM card (Subscriber Identity Module). This electronic chip is what gives you the service for France, including the low French cell phone rates. Once you have a SIM card for France, you simply slip it into your GSM phone and you are automatically on the French system. Once your initial talk time is used up, you can add more minutes to the SIM card by purchasing a recharge card, available in various denominations at most convenience stores and magazine stands. You must, of course, be in France to get the benefits of the French system including the low rates and unlimited free incoming calls. However, obtaining a French SIM card is not as simple as just walking into a cell phone store in France and picking one up. You must have residency in France and demonstrate documentation to purchase one. If you have French relatives or friends, perhaps they can pick one up for you.

(I will say that this last paragraph is not true as I am not a resident and I just bought a SIM card with my own French cellphone number only having to show my documents and paying the fee)...

Alternatively, you can order a French SIM card and an unlocked GSM phone from Cellular Abroad, based in Marina del Rey, California (www.cellularabroad.com). They will sell you a SIM card and either rent or sell you a GSM phone. If you are planning on going to France for a short visit and do not plan on travelling overseas again and have no use for a GSM cellular phone in the US or Canada, then renting is the better option. Cellular Abroad offers convenient package deals with a tri-band GSM cell phone and a French SIM card along with all the plug adapters you need, all at a low, discount price. If you purchase a tri-band GSM phone, not only can you use it in France but anywhere in the world where the GSM system is used. That way, next time you go to another destination, you only need to purchase a SIM card for that specific country. Plus, if you do happen to use one of the domestic cellular carriers who utilizes the GSM standard, you can travel the world with just one phone, simply swapping SIM cards from country to country in order to take advantage of the local rates.

Paris 4th Arr
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4. Re: laptop and cell phone from usa to paris

Very well written summary. I agree with you about that one paragraph.

We have 2 phones in France, one is on a "contract" with FT-Orange and the other is "pay as you go" with FT-Orange.

To get a contract phone number we were required to show that we had a long-stay visa (carte de sejour) and a bank account in France. Ours is a "visitor visa", not a "resident visa" but it didn't matter. As long as we had the carte de sejour and a French bank account, they set us up. A Visa/French bank account were absolutely required at FT-Orange and 2 other carriers we researched.

The pay as you go SIM had no conditions or strings attached. Walk in, plunk down 30 Euro, walk out with a French phone number 5 minutes later. We recharge our phone at any Credit Lyonaise ATM machine with either our US or French ATM card. The GSM tri-band phone we used was originally purchased in Seattle from T-Mobile 2 years prior and after weeks and weeks of hassle, we were finally able to get them to unlock it (per contract, they won't unlock it for the first year and then they make you suffer when you do want it unlocked).

Except for these particular details, the newsletter was a very succinct and clear. Thanks for posting it.

on the go
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5. Re: laptop and cell phone from usa to paris

My phone will work in Europe but it is locked. Does anyone know of a reputable company they've used that i can get it unlocked?

(my quad phone is from cingular) i'd like to just unlock it and buy a france sim card before i go.

Paris 4th Arr
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6. Re: laptop and cell phone from usa to paris

The bad news is you'll have to sort this out with cingular. They hold the contracts with Motorola, Erickson, etc. and so you'll need to start with cingular's customer service system to get your phone unlocked.

Montreal, QC
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7. Re: laptop and cell phone from usa to paris

I used an American provider to unlock my Sony Ericcson phone (www.unlockitnow.com). I ordered their unlocking kit which consists of a cable to plug your phone into your PC computer and I received an email with an application to download, a username and a password. I followed the instructions, I took a few minutes and my phone was unlocked.

Some months later I bought a Motorola Razr to replace my Sony Ericson and I tried to unlock it using one again UnlockIt Now services and this time it did not work because the Razr is so new they haven't come up with the applications to unlock it. So my Razr is my North American phone and the Sony Ericsson is the one I use now in France.

Toronto
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8. Re: laptop and cell phone from usa to paris

depending on your phone, it may be unlocked for free with no cable, or for $100+. However, with a recent quad-band phone, it is likely to cost a bit for unlocking. Use you favourite internet search engine.

Toronto
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9. Re: laptop and cell phone from usa to paris

>> --WIFI is the same here as it is in the states. Without exception

European WiFi have some extra channels not available/accessible with a US WiFi card. However public WiFi hotspot operators would be very stupid to use those channels. So you are not likely to encounter any problem, but it can happen.

Paris, France
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10. Re: laptop and cell phone from usa to paris

Fotogirl

"Does anyone know of a reputable company they've used that I can get it unlocked?"

There are people who advertise on ebay who claim to be able to unlock any GSM phone. Are they reputable? Not sure, perhaps they are Cingular employees trying to supplement their retirement accounts.