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Communications for Expats in the United States Of America

Submitted: August 2013

When moving to a new country, it is important to research the telephone companies’ plans which are being offered so as to be able to select the one which best suits you. For convenience, you should try to determine beforehand what you will need your cell phone for and which services you will need. The United States of America boasts many mobile service providers which make communication readily available and easily accessible. Service providers such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are often regarded as being the best and enjoy the highest number of subscribers. Each offers different rates, services and cell phones. Some of their pros and in some case cons are:

  1. Verizon Wireless – this provider offers a large selection in both contract-based and pre-paid cell phone plans and also providing outstanding nationwide and international coverage. They are also known for excellent customer service.
  2. AT&T – this provider is known for offering a large variety of individual, family and prepaid cell phone plans. It also has an extensive selection of cell phones and features available.
  3. Sprint – this provider offers unique calling plans which often meet customers’ needs better than its competitors, and also features unlimited data options which are rare among mobile service providers in the USA. You should note that they only offer contract-based plans and additional fees are involved for activation and early termination.
  4. T-Mobile – this provider also offers unlimited data options and features mobile-mobile minutes and unlimited night and weekend talk minutes. Though they offer a wide range of plans and features, mobile coverage is weak when compared with other providers.

In the US, mobile service providers use two main standards, GSM which is used in most other countries and CDMA which is used in the USA and few other countries. Of the major providers, T-Mobile and AT&T uses the GSM standard, while Sprint and Verizon operate on CDMA. If you want to use your old mobile phone in the US, this option is available to you by just simply buying a SIM card (pre-paid or post-paid) from a provider which uses the same standard as your initial mobile service provider. If the provider’s standard is different, you may be able to get your phone unlocked to work on other standards, usually by paying a small fee. Before you select an option however, you should enquire if it would be a breach of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

If you want the option of landline telephone services and or internet, this option is available to you through the same mobile service providers mentioned earlier, and also many others. Though you are free to select providers for mobile, landline and internet services separately, service charges may be significantly cheaper when bought bundled from one provider. Prices and packages constantly change, with Dial-up, broadband, DSL and satellite Internet services are usually available in most cities. Difficulty procuring internet access and landline telephone services is often limited to rural and depopulated areas, and like with many other countries, free WiFi is available at some public places such as airports, hotels and coffee shops. To see the landline and internet service providers (including and aside from major ones above) which are available in a particular area, please use the following link. - https://www.movearoo.com/

Though each provider may have different requirements, in general, opening a new account for landline services is relatively easy and can often be done over the phone. For this, a credit check which evaluates the applicant’s credit history and individual taxpayer identification number for non-citizens is required. Billing procedures are similar to those worldwide, with monthly bills mailed to the customer’s home, or checked online. Some providers may also provide you with auto-paying options which directly deduct the bill form your bank account.

Finally, before you select a provider, you may want to consider several questions which you should ask. What plans are available? Will the plans be specific to you so as to eliminate paying for services you will not use? Are hidden fees associated? What is the coverage like, and are rural areas included? Are efficient help and support services available? Asking these questions may help to reduce the occurrence of service misunderstandings between you and your selected provider.

 

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