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One of the great benefits of our modern age is the ease of communication, whether it is keeping in touch by email, online messaging services, or telephone. Of course these days, the mobile phone (or cell phone in some countries) provide the easiest of all methods to keep in touch.

Of course not all mobiles/cell phones are compatible. This is because of the different radio frequencies and encoding services used between countries and the other reason is due to the commercial reality that not all communication services provide cross-billing (also known as roaming or international roaming here in Australia).

Except for the USA and Canada, most other countries in the world use GSM type digital mobile/cell phone service. Originally a 900 MHz frequency, it is being upgraded to an 1800 MHz service. So in theory, if you have a GSM phone, you should be able to access the service in over 212 different countries1.

Although the USA and Canada have some GSM service (in the USA it is offered by T-mobile and Cingular (including the former AT&T), in Canada by Microcell/Fido and Rogers/AT&T) most cell phone service is of a different type or/and a different frequency2. Fortunately for those who do own some of the new T-Mobile Samsung phones or Cingular phones with GSM compatibility, they do have the perfect phones for use when traveling internationally.

So, what does one do. Your first step is 'research'. There are a number of good articles and resources online, some covering the topic extensively. Check out our links below, including the excellent Road Warrior Resources.

For travellers planning to visit an overseas destination you need to decide whether you are going to use a local phone card that operates in the country you are visiting (quite an economical way of keeping in touch), purchase a mobile phone within the country you are travelling (which means you know it will work), renting a mobile or buy a mobile phone that will work anywhere.

For those planning to visit Australia, an inexpensive option is to get yourself a GSM mobile/cell phone and purchase what is known as a 'prepaid SIM card'. By using the prepaid SIM card you are able to easily manage your spend, and it is a fairly easy process to top up the card. The other plus for visitors that receive calls from the USA is that when someone rings you from there on your Australian prepaid SIM card mobile phone, you are not charged for the call3.

Australia offers a number of service providers with the main operators being Telstra, Optus, Virgin and Vodafone. You can purchase the prepaid from a number of outlets in Australia, including some supermarkets, post offices, electronic and computer stores, just to name a few. Also keep your eyes open for the stores sale brochures that come out periodically with some great mobile phone specials.


This article is continually evolving, so come back as we update and add more links here...

Mobile Phone / Cell Phone Resources

1 International Cell Phone Service, Road Warrior Resources - The Travel Insider. Retrieved June 5 2008, from
2 GSM frequency bands. (2008, May 23). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 5, 2008, from
3 Telephone for travellers in Australia. The Backpacker's Ultimate Guide (BUG). Retreived June 5, 2008 from
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