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If you haven't done so already, I suggest you read our Cell
Phone Overview article first as this article builds on it.
What is GSM?
GSM is the
technology wireless phones use throughout Europe, the middle East, Asia, Africa, and is
recently becoming more popular in the US and Canada. GSM
stands for Global Systems for Mobile Communication.
There are three important things to
look for when choosing a cell phone if you expect it to work in most
places around the world:
- GSM phone...
- A Triband (or
Quad-band) GSM phone...
- An Unlocked Triband GSM
A GSM phone is a phone that works on the GSM wireless system
mentioned above. This is the most prevalent wireless system
worldwide. A few years ago, a GSM phone would not have worked
in the USA since there was no GSM network to support it. Now,
there are a few US carriers supporting GSM systems.
Even though GSM is supported today in the USA, the band used
is different from that of Europe or the Middle East for
example. This means a strictly US GSM phone will still not
work in Europe and a strictly European GSM phone will not work in
the USA. Below is a list of the bands used worldwide:
Most USA carriers offering GSM will provide a 1900 MHz GSM
phone. As you can see, it is not compatible with most other
places in the world and will not work. There
are many GSM
phones that have Triband technology where it offers the most
popular 1900 and 900/1800 MHz bands. This will cover most
places in the world. We offer Triband GSM phones right here at
After you make sure that you have a
Triband GSM phone, you need to know if the phone is
locked. If you buy a phone from your
carrier or receive free because you signed up for
a long term contract, chances are it is locked. This means that
you can only use your carrier's service (SIM card) in that phone.
This also applies to phones that you buy from people who got their
phones from carriers where those phones were locked.
Having an unlocked phone gives you
the flexibility to use another carrier's services, namely the
carrier of whatever SIM card you put in your Unlocked GSM
phone. For example, using a local SIM card from France gives
you the local wireless service in France which tends to save
money and eliminate roaming and long distance charges.
If your phone is unlocked and has the necessary bands, it means that
you can use it with any GSM network throughout the Middle East, Asia,
Africa, Europe, and North America. If you have a Triband GSM
you can access service in over 150 countries by simply
obtaining the proper SIM card.
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