Friday, February 1, 2013

Call me maybe

Travelers from India to the US frequently struggle with getting an inexpensive phone connection that works. I have tried various options over the years:
  • Rented a prepaid phone from India which gets activated in the US: too expensive, no data plan.
  • Used my India phone in the US: wound up with a phone bill higher than the cost of my smartphone.
  • Used Google voice linked to my hotel phone: helpful only if you work out of the hotel all day, which sort of defeats the purpose of traveling to the US on work.
Thanks to a colleague at work, I think I have now stumbled upon an option that works best. Your mileage may vary, of course. This is what you do:
First, purchase a GoPhone from AT&T. There are two ways of doing this - one is to find a local AT&T store and purchase a SIM (or microsim if you prefer), or walk into any general store and pick up a $20 Samsung GoPhone (I tried Walgreens as it was the closest). You might also want to buy a $50 recharge card from the store while you are at it - will save you another trip.
I removed the SIM from the GoPhone and put it into my trusty Android phone. Followed instructions at the website and activated the number. Used the $50 recharge card and bought the monthly unlimited plan. Used the APN settings from this post,  restarted my phone and I was all set! I didn't get 3G, but EDGE is good enough for email, twitter and the occasional gchat with friends and family while on the road. The rate plan expires after a month, but the account should be active for another quarter and the phone number for another five months, which should help the next time I travel. Fingers crossed.