Your plans are set: the plane tickets are purchased, your room is booked and you’ve told your bank that you’ll be leaving the country. But you forgot one important detail. How are you going to keep in touch with friends and family back in your home country?
Your carrier may or may not have the capabilities for you to easily stay connected abroad without paying more for international plans.
CDMA vs. GSM
In the U.S., there are two different types of mobile phone networks: GSM and CDMA. Around the mid-90s, CDMA was the newest technology as phone service carriers switched from analog to digital. At the time, CDMA was leaps and bounds ahead of GSM in terms of quality and capabilities. One decision made nearly 20 years ago set the path for many U.S. carriers.
Today, GSM is just as advanced, if not more so, than CDMA. However, many carriers, like Sprint and Verizon, are stuck on CDMA network. AT&T, T-Mobile and other carriers use the GSM network.
GSM in Europe
The U.S. is a bit of an odd-man-out when it comes to the networks mobile phone providers use. In 1987, Europe required by law that GSM technology was used industry-wide. (In case you were wondering, NUU Mobile phones operate on the GSM network).
Now, just because your phone may be on the GSM network in the U.S. does not necessarily mean that it is going to work when you are abroad. There are a host of other factors that come into play, such as the frequencies used by each carrier and whether your phone is locked or unlocked.
Locked and Unlocked Smartphones
Suppose your phone plan is with a carrier on the GSM network. To have a chance of working abroad, it must also be an unlocked smartphone. In most cases, this means you probably paid full price for it, instead of getting it discounted or for free with a contract.
If your smartphone is locked, you’ll be stuck paying either roaming fees or a higher rate for an international plan.
If you have an unlocked smartphone, staying in touch abroad may be a little easier. When you arrive, you can buy a local SIM card, which will give you close to the same service you enjoy in the U.S. depending on which country you are in. Note: you’ll have to buy a different SIM card for each country you visit. All of NUU Mobile’s phones come with dual LTE SIMs to help you keep track of your SIM cards while traveling.
As mobile technology continues to advance by leaps and bounds, there may eventually be a day where both your phone and carrier work worldwide. Until then, your best bet is to invest in an unlocked smartphone on the GSM network.
Staying in touch abroad doesn’t have to be a pain, especially if your phone is already made for visiting multiple countries. Check out NUU Mobile’s best phone recommendations for your next trip. International travel can be daunting. With NUU Mobile devices, you’ll find peace of mind and stay connected while traveling.