Moving to the US

This is a discussion on Moving to the US within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; This tuesday, I'm moving to Urbana, Illinois to study for one year. I probably should have many questions for you, ...

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    S Sang-drax's Avatar
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    Moving to the US

    This tuesday, I'm moving to Urbana, Illinois to study for one year. I probably should have many questions for you, but right now I can only think of one:

    I have a cell phone which I know works in the US. I need to buy a SIM card for it as soon as possible though. How/where can I do that? Pre-paid SIM cards like we have in Sweden would be nice, to get rid of bills -- is it possible?

    It would be really nice if I had a working cell phone asap, because I going to meet up with a friend to buy his car etc.

    EDIT: Is there anyone here who is/has been to UIUC?
    Last edited by Sang-drax : Tomorrow at 02:21 AM. Reason: Time travelling

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    Kernel hacker
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    Yes, you can get prepaid sim-cards in the US. You may want to check which system is prevalent in the area, since some areas don't have GSM/3G coverage in the US, which means that you need a US-style CDMA phone - those are usually not what you find in shops in Sweden (or elsewhere in Europe) - the "US capable" phones are GSM-triband phones that can do the 1900MHz that the US market uses. Some areas are covered by both GSM and CDMA based systems, but often the GSM solution is then more expensive, so you may find that a CDMA-based phone "pays for itself".

    I tried looking up which network covers that area, but my 2 minutes on google didn't result in any good results. You could of course just see what's what when you get there.

    --
    Mats

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    l'Anziano DavidP's Avatar
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    This site has a lot of good info on cell phones and their usage in the USA:

    http://www.cellphoneinfo.com/
    My Website

    "Circular logic is good because it is."

  4. #4
    S Sang-drax's Avatar
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    It seems that Urbana is covered by GSM 1900: http://www.rentcell.com/coverage-map-usa-gsm.htm

    Where do I buy a SIM card? In convenient stores or more specialized stores?
    Last edited by Sang-drax : Tomorrow at 02:21 AM. Reason: Time travelling

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    Registered User whiteflags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sang-drax View Post
    It seems that Urbana is covered by GSM 1900: http://www.rentcell.com/coverage-map-usa-gsm.htm

    Where do I buy a SIM card? In convenient stores or more specialized stores?
    Does this help?

    http://www.planetomni.com/FAQ_sim.shtml#13

  6. #6
    S Sang-drax's Avatar
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    Excellent site! I wish I found that a little bit earlier, so I could've recieved my card here in Sweden.
    Last edited by Sang-drax : Tomorrow at 02:21 AM. Reason: Time travelling

  7. #7
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    Going to spend some time at the U OF I eh? Good school.

    You cannot just buy a SIM card and hope everything works. I live in IL near Urbana and the only network that is using SIM cards is Cingular or now at&t. Cingular will offer pre-paid minutes but you will have to go into their store and buy them and your phone must support their SIM card. Cingular offers the best plans, best coverage, and the best service around here. The others just um...suck and AFAIK do not use SIM cards. The other main service providers around here are Sprint and Verizon.

    And regardless of what that site may say, I live here and trust me you are going to have trouble just buying a SIM to use in your phone. Most of the networks around here are proprietary so that your phone, while still being just a cell phone, will only work on a Cingular or Verizon network. I had a Cingular phone that absolutely would not work on another network.

    If you were a super uber elite haxor like on Live Free or Die Hard you could just hack into any network in a couple of minutes.
    Last edited by VirtualAce; 08-12-2007 at 04:55 PM.

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    Hmm. I think SIM cards are part of the GSM phone standard - but I could be wrong. However, some phones are locked to a particular service provider (e.g. when you buy a "reduced price" phone from Cingular, and they have put a lock on so that the phone will not accept a SIM from another service provider). CDMA may not be using SIM-cards, I don't know much about CDMA. [I used to work on GSM base-stations, so I do know a bit about that]

    It's worth looking into which service provider covers the particular area tho', since although other service providers will allow "roaming" (that is, you can use other networks), you will be paying extra for that service. Or it may be "blocked" from your service. Read the fine-print on your subscription contract.

    --
    Mats

  9. #9
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    Then perhaps the only company using GSM here is Cingular. My friends who do not use Cingular do not have SIM cards in their phones. Cingular is the way to go around here. It's easy and their stores are everywhere.

    I'm not saying Cingular is perfect and do not believe the hype of the network with the fewest dropped calls because it's pure crapola. Driving from Springfield to Champaign you will lose the call at least 6 times.
    Last edited by VirtualAce; 08-12-2007 at 05:00 PM.

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    I can't honestly remember the GSM and non-GSM areas in the US - I know most of the really densely populated area operators prefer GSM (New York, Washington D.C., West Coast), whilst he less densely populated areas prefer CDMA (it's longer reach for one base-station, but less "compact" bandwidht usage - so GSM is better if you expect lots of usage in a small area, CDMA is better if you want use few base-stations to cover a larger area - say Texas or some such).

    I also know that since the original "purchase" of GSM/CDMA technology licenses, "third party" service providers that provide the alternative service have cropped up, so I was for example able to use a GSM phone in the rural parts of Minnesota, which isn't exactly "prime territory for GSM" - but not in Wyoming.

    Texas is OK too for the areas around Dallas, Austin and Houston that I've been to.

    But I have a UK Vodafone contract - I've not spent enough time in the US to "need" local contract.

    --
    Mats

  11. #11
    chococoder
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    GSM is a worldwide standard (with the standardised bands being now 3 standards to cover for different usage patterns in different areas), and so are the SIM cards supporting it.

    A GSM phone should therefore work with a card from any network provider (provided the phone isn't SIM-locked to a specific card or network which many phones now are).

    As Mats said, don't expect universal GSM coverage in the US. Once you go outside major urban areas it quickly becomes spotty or disappears altogether. And with the very short range of the GSM1900 stations that can be as little as a few kilometers outside a city.

  12. #12
    S Sang-drax's Avatar
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    I guess I'll have to find a Cingular store (are they the same as AT&T?) and ask them.

    Hmmm, I was told that there'd be absolutely no problem finding a working SIM card when I bought this phone here in Sweden.
    Last edited by Sang-drax : Tomorrow at 02:21 AM. Reason: Time travelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sang-drax View Post
    I guess I'll have to find a Cingular store (are they the same as AT&T?) and ask them.

    Hmmm, I was told that there'd be absolutely no problem finding a working SIM card when I bought this phone here in Sweden.
    I don't think Cingular and AT&T are the same thing, but it may be that Cingular "related" to AT&T - I don't know that. It shouldn't be too hard to find a shop tho'. There's two listed with maps in google.

    --
    Mats

  14. #14
    chococoder
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    Either Cingular split from AT&T and/or the same people own both. Whichever, there's a close relationship between them.

  15. #15
    carry on JaWiB's Avatar
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    Cingular is the new AT&T. Just type in Cingular on wikipedia and see what you get
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