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Tips For International GSM Roaming

If you are planning to travel across the border this holiday season, there are some tricks of the trade when it comes to GSM (global system for mobile communications) cell phones and long distance calling.

  • Calls to voice mail when roaming internationally are billed at international rates.
  • When you are abroad and turn on your wireless phone, it will automatically search for a wireless network. Registration usually occurs within 30-40 seconds. When the name or network number of the local operator is displayed, your phone should be ready to use.
  • Charges for calls placed while roaming internationally will appear on your regular wireless bill. Sometimes charges for international usage take several weeks to process and appear on your bill.
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  • Your GSM phone assumes the characteristics of the wireless network in each country you visit. So if you are traveling in Italy, your phone will work like a local Italian wireless device.
  • When you get to your destination, it's best to learn how to make local calls in the country visited.
  • While roaming outside the U.S., be sure to make all international calls using the international format (+, country code, number). For example, to place an international call back to the United States, dial +1, then the area code and number (the U.S. country code is "1"). In most GSM devices, holding down the 0 key will cause the + sign to appear.
  • The 911 emergency number is unique to the U.S. In many European countries, the emergency number for police, fire, or ambulance is 112. Outside Europe, emergency numbers will vary by country.
  • Most phones are preset to roam automatically, which means that the phone will switch networks as you move from one country to another. However, when you arrive at certain international destinations, it may be necessary to turn your wireless phone off and then back on again, so it recognizes the local wireless network. If you are still having trouble switching networks, or would like to manually switch networks, please consult your owner's manual for assistance.
  • Remember to take a universal phone charger and plug adapters for the countries you are visiting!
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