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US SIM card in UK mobile (cell) phone - does it work ?

Devon, UK
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480 posts
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US SIM card in UK mobile (cell) phone - does it work ?

We (2 adults and 2 kids) are spending two and a half weeks on holiday in New York and then Florida, end of July, start of August with a fly/drive package. We haven't booked any accommodation in Florida as yet (though we will book the first few nights whilst still in NY) and will to some extent want to book a couple of nights ahead as we go on. Also my wife and older daughter are likely to want to do some shopping in NY which won't necessarily appeal to me and younger son.

My query is about using our mobile (cell) phones in the US. Both my wife and I have triband phones, unlocked to any networks. I have read plenty of horror stories about the cost of using a UK mobile (cell) phone in the US so want to avoid that trap.

BUT, what if I was to buy US Pay as You Go SIM cards (off ebay) and use those in our phones. As we would only be phoning within the US, either to hotels or the other mobile (cell), is this as simple as it sounds and therefore much less costly than using a UK SIM card and UK mobile number.

Anyone with any similar experiences, or knowledge of if this works, your advice would be much appreciated along with any recommendations for which service provider to use.

Low Fell, England
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1. Re: US SIM card in UK mobile (cell) phone - does it work ?

Good question....any answers out there?

North East, England
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2. Re: US SIM card in UK mobile (cell) phone - does it work ?

The basic answer is no!

This is because of the GSM frequencies used in the US differ from those in the UK

The only phone you could do that with is a tri band (Motorola's etc...), but if it was tri band your phone would work over there without the SIM swap (as long as you had informed your service provider

North East, England
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3. Re: US SIM card in UK mobile (cell) phone - does it work ?

and have just check the US SIM idea and this will work in a UK tri band phone as long as the provider is using a standard GSM network

SE
Wales
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4. Re: US SIM card in UK mobile (cell) phone - does it work ?

We find texting is better for routine stuff like arranging to meet etc.. 25p a text. People that text you from UK only pay 12p.

New York NY
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5. Re: US SIM card in UK mobile (cell) phone - does it work ?

Ah, cell phones...unlike Europe and most of the world, the US has all three different cell infrastructures that do not talk to one another and that are , in turn, owned by mutiple companies (eg Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc) who want you to only do business with THEM. Therefore, there is no universal cell technology in the US; different phones work on different technolgies and communciate via separate cell-signaling networks owned by different companies. GSM is only one of these infrastructures, fairly recent, and far from dominant. However, it is growing.

As an American who travels abroad, I have a T-Mobile GSM-based phone so that I can call direct to/from US when I am abroad even though while I am here there are plenty of places where I have no service at all while my Verizon friends are chatting away and making calls. You were wise to check with your UK provider.

In any event, this is a huge country and there are lots of places where service is spotty or non -existant. NYC itself has lots of "dead spots" because of the skyscrapers and the building materials (concrete and steel). It's super common to not get service in elevators, subways, inside some buildings, and in skyscraper "canyons" like parts of mid-town. You just have to wander and keep trying til you get a signal again.

Hey, this is the land of free-enterprise capitalism...you don't think any of thus would be regulated and unified, would you??

Have fun!