Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A cell phone that works everywhere - Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008

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Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008

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A cell phone that works everywhere

QI'm an expedition leader on cruises around the world. I met your mother on her recent cruise to Antarctica. I'm looking for a new cell phone. I'd like to have access to my e-mail. And it needs to have good U.S. and international coverage. I'll be traveling to Europe, South America and Asia. Any advice?

AMy mother had an amazing time in Antarctica. What an adventure! Everyone can read all about it on her personal blog.

You go on adventures for a living. Now, that's cool. I'd be happy to help you with your cell phone quandary. This will be great advice for anyone planning on international travel.

You obviously do a lot of traveling. But you probably spend most of your time in the United States. So, you'll want to sign up with a U.S. carrier.

There are many carriers available. But there are only two types of carrier networks: CDMA (code division multiple access) and GSM (global system mobile). Any phone you buy will be locked in to one or the other. You'll want to go with a GSM-based carrier. GSM is the global standard for cellular networks.

You'll rarely find CDMA outside of North and South America. This limits your options greatly. Of the major carriers, only AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM. Both carriers have features for international travelers. I'll get back to these in just a second.

Most likely all of your travel destinations will have GSM coverage. But not all GSM is created equal. GSM networks operate on four different frequencies (bands). The world's airwaves are fairly packed. In any country, several of those frequencies may be reserved for other purposes.

A GSM band in one country may not work in another. You'll need a phone that can shift between bands. You can find phones that handle one to four bands. You'll want a quad-band phone for flexibility.

Plenty of quad-band GSM phones are available. You can get anything from simple handsets to smartphones. The carrier can point you to its selection of quad-band phones.

So, what about international roaming? Click here, and I'll dig into it.

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Every day, Team Komando produces some of the best content you'll find anywhere on the Internet. Here is a sampling of what's new on our site today!

Video of the Day: Magicians' should amaze and astound. That is, unless they're not very good. Then they use other talents, like comedy.

Cool Site of the Day: This man travels to many foreign lands. He needs a phone the operates everywhere. GSM looks like the best bet.

Digital Minute, on your radio: Apple's new iPhone 3G is locked into AT&T's network. But could hackers soon get around this restriction?

Free Download of the Day: Building a stunning Web site isn't easy. Interactive Web applications are the key. You can make them for free.

Tip on the site: A listener put Windows on a backup drive. He's ready for another crash. I have a better idea--create a hard drive image.

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