Do you have international roaming enabled on your phone so that you can use it while traveling abroad? Then understand completely about the charges of your carrier for using outside your country. Otherwise, you will end up paying a bill costlier than your airfare.
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Check the voltage rating
The voltage rating in India is 230 volts whereas it is 110 volts in the USA. It may differ in other countries. So check the voltage rating in your country and buy a voltage adapter that can transform the voltage to the one compatible in India if you are planning to use your existing phone.
Unlocking your phone
In many countries, the phones are unlocked to the carrier providers and you cannot put any other company’s SIM card in it. For example, in the USA the popular providers like AT & T and T-mobile provide only locked phones and they have several restrictions on unlocking the phones. AT & T unlocks the phone only if your contract is terminated or you have canceled the service. Check your mobile service provider about the procedure for unlocking the phone. If that is not feasible, there are many private companies or dealers who can unlock the phone at a nominal rate. Find out the information for such in your country.
If unlocking the phone is costly for you, don’t worry. You can buy a basic mobile phone in India for $15-20 without any contract.
Know your Mobile Standard (CDMA/GSM)
Mobile phones basically work using any one of the two standards namely CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and GSM (Global System for mobile communication). Most of the subscribers in the world use GSM technology. If you have a CDMA phone, you cannot use that in a country where the mobile phone uses GSM standard and vice versa.
India uses the GSM band of frequency 900 / 1800 MHz which is also applicable for most other countries in the world. But the US phones use 850/1900 MHz.
So to use a US phone, not only the phone should be unlocked but also it should a tri-band or quad-band phone which on multiple frequencies.
Know your roaming rates
If your phone satisfies all the three criteria like Voltage, Unlock, and Standard (CDMA/GSM) then finally check the international roaming rates from your carrier for the below things:
– Incoming calls
– Outgoing calls ( Rate varies for each country)
– Reading voicemail
– Rate for using data
Make sure that the rates are affordable for you and not too high.
Use Wi-Fi whenever possible
To avoid the bill on data usage, use Wi-Fi in your phone whenever possible for browsing or even making calls using applications like Skype.
Buy a local SIM card
Why do you have all the hassles of unlocking, roaming, etc? Instead buy a temporary prepaid SIM card in India and use it till you stay there. To buy a SIM card you need to provide a passport copy, visa copy, local address, etc. You can get a SIM card just for around $2 and you can refill it whenever you need it.
The talk time is calculated differently in India. In the US, the talk time includes both incoming and outgoing calls. But in India, the talk time is only for the outgoing calls and the incoming calls are always free. Even if you don’t have a balance to make calls, you can still receive calls till the expiry date of your SIM card. The cost for refilling includes service tax also. For example, if you are refilling for an amount of Rs.500, service tax may come around Rs.50 and the net talk time will be for Rs.450.
Also, the rates for calling and sending SMS in India are very low when compared with other countries. Usually, the package will have a specified number of free SMS. If you are calling another number having the same carrier, then the rate may be less.
You can also get the data plan for the mobile connection at an extra rate. But it may not be necessary for you as you can check the internet in your hotels or other places.
Calling in India
To call a local mobile number, just dial the 10 digit number. If you want to call a landline number, dial the area code followed by the number. For making calls outside India, dial the country code followed by the number.