If you are like me, when you travel you want to disconnect but have the ability to connect. So you are sometimes left to wonder how to use your cell when in Europe. Now this only pertains to Verizon customers. Verizon, as you may know operates on a CDMA network while most of Europe operates on a GSM network. So, as a Verizon customer you have options. You can rent a global phone and get a plan that works for your needs, activate a global phone you may have already and pay high roaming rates or lastly have a global GSM/CDMA phone and get it unlocked, get yourself a Verizon FIOS promotion code to save money. There are a host of these global phones available and you may not even realize you have one already.
I will focus on the Iphone 4s ( only the 4s and 5 are global ) though the same process is used for all global phones through Verizon.
First you must have a Verizon account and be in good standing for at least 60 days. Next, call Verizon and speak to someone in global services. This call (minus 5 minutes of on hold time) only took a couple minutes and my phone was unlocked and confirmed via email with a short tutorial on how it works.
I was on a trip to Prague, so after landing I went to a Vodafone store and purchased a prepaid SIM card with 30 mins talk, 100 texts and 1GB of data for about $20. ** You will need to be connected to wifi before activating ** I got my card and went back to my hotel and connected my 4s to the hotels wifi, inserted my new SIM card and no problems. It will ask for a SIM card unlock number which will be given to you at purchase time or on the card itself. Now to those new at this, the SIM card has now changed your phone number to a new local number. Your contacts are still in your phone, only now, if you send a text or call a friend they will see this new foreign phone number of yours. You may get a few texts from Vodafone explaining how to find out things like instructions, minutes used or texts left and this will be in Czech. If you are like me and can’t read Czech, no problem, just copy the text and paste it into Google translate. Now this particular Vodafone SIM was only good in the Czech Republic. Traveling into other countries involves high roaming or just purchase another SIM card in the next country you visit and enjoy much lower rates. This will again change you number. You can buy a SIM that covers most if not all of Europe, but again you will pay much higher rates, although you would have only one phone number while you are there.
Europe does have a ton of wifi hotspots, but this really does not allow me enough range of access in case you need a map/gps on the go. When you get back into the U.S. just remove the SIM and power your phone back on and you will be connected back to Verizon with your original phone number.
Sound confusing? It’s not. I thought so too, but after hopping around Europe I found this to be fairly easy and for sure the cheapest way to go. Questions? feel free to ask away and I will do my best to answer.