Frequently Asked Questions
GSM Cell Phones

In this section we list some commonly asked question and answers regarding GSM cell phones. If you do not see your question listed here, please also view our other FAQ sections or feel free to contact us.

Is my GSM cell phone compatible with Telestial's roaming SIM cards?

My cell phone looks just like a GSM cell phone on your website. Is it GSM?

I have a GSM cell phone will it work overseas?

I have a GSM tri-band (900/1800/1900) phone will the prepaid SIM cards work in my phone?

How can I tell if my world cell phone is sim locked?

If my GSM world cell phone is locked can I get it unlocked?

Are all of the GSM cell phones sold on the Telestial website SIM unlocked?

Some of the phones are GSM 900/1800 and some of the phones are GSM 900/1800/1900 and still some other phones are GSM 900/1900. What is the difference and what phone should I get?

Will I have voicemail?

When will I get my prepaid cell phone number?

Will I be able to charge my GSM cell phone in the United States prior to departure?

If I order a GSM cell phone will it include the appropriate chargers and adapters for charging my phone overseas?

Do I need a SIM card?

Can I put the SIM card into the phone prior to arriving at my next international destination?

I purchased a GSM cell phone that only included a charger that will not work in the United States. How can I charge my cell phone before I depart?

Where in the world won't my GSM 900/1800 GSM cell phone work?

I put my SIM card in the phone, charged it up, and turned it on and the LCD menu prompts are all in a foreign language. How can I get my phone to "speak English"?

Can I use a world phone that operates on the GSM 900/1800/1900 frequencies all over the world?

I am currently overseas and I charged the phone up, inserted the SIM cards but I still can't make any calls. What am I doing incorrectly?

How do I dial from overseas to call the United States?


Is my GSM cell phone compatible with Telestial's roaming SIM cards?

Incompatible Handsets

If the call back does not occur, or if you hear a message saying the call cannot be completed, your handset may not be fully compatible. To resolve this problem, all you need to do is enter the number you wish to call prefixed with *126* followed by country code, area code (without the leading 0), phone number and #. Example 1: if you wish to call 03 9010 0225 in Australia, you would dial *126*61390100225# Example 2: if you wish to call 0207-943-2772 in the UK, you would dial *126*442079432772# Example 3: if you wish to call 213-337-5555 in the US, you would dial *126*12133375555#



Cingular 8512 Nokia 8210e Samsung E310
Cingular 8525 Nokia 8310 Samsung E700
LG CP500 Nokia 8800 Samsung N500
Motorola C115 Palm Treo 600 Samsung Z510
Motorola C116 Palm Treo 650 Sharp GX29
Motorola MPx200 Palm Treo 680 Siemens S55
Nokia 3310 Panasonic GD75 Sony Ericsson K750i
Nokia 6310 Panasonic X700 Sony Ericsson K300i
Nokia 6610 Sagem MY X-3 Sony Ericsson K610
Nokia 6600 Samsung A707 Sony Ericsson W600
Nokia 5140i Samsung A800 Sony Ericsson P800
Nokia 6030 Samsung C100 Sony Ericsson P910
Nokia 7110 Samsung D407 Sony Ericsson P910 i
Nokia 7270 Samsung D500  

PLEASE NOTE: Currently "world edition" hybrid phones (GSM & CDMA) are not compatible with our services. If you have difficulty using the service in your handset, please contact Customer service.

Will my existing phone work in the country I am travelling to?
If you are from the United States or Canada and are planning to travel to Europe, Asia, Australia or South America, chances are your existing cell phone will not work in the country you are traveling to. If you are from the UK or Australia, your phone may not work in North America. There are two reasons for this.

  1. There are two main cell or mobile phone network technologies used in the world: GSM and CDMA (including PCS). 77% of the world uses GSM and GSM networks can be found virtually in every country including the United States. Approximately 20% of the world use CDMA and CDMA networks can be found in a number of countries, but primarily in the United States, Canada and Mexico. If you are from the US or Canada, you may have a CDMA phone which will only work on CDMA networks.
  2. There are five GSM frequency bands used by network operators around the world (GSM frequency bands are the radio spectrum frequencies that the GSM system operate on). The frequencies and the countries in which they are used are summarized in the following table. If you are from the US or Canada, and have a GSM phone, your phone is likely to only have the frequencies that work in the US (GSM-850 and GSM-1900). If you are from Australia or the UK, your phone may not have the frequencies that work in the United States, Canada or Mexico.
Frequencies by region are typically:
Region GSM Frequency
Europe 900/1800MHz
Asia Pacific 900/1800MHz
North America 850/1900MHz
Caribbean 900/1800/1900MHz
South America 900/1800/1900MHz

If you are planning to travel internationally, you need to check if your phone is GSM compatible and if it will work on the GSM frequency band used in the country you are traveling to. This information should be in the instruction manual that accompanied your existing phone when you purchased it, or you can call your network operator.

My cell phone looks just like a GSM cell phone on your website. Is it GSM?

Your phone may look like a GSM cell phone on the outside and as with many things it's what is on the inside the counts. As an example Nokia manufactures a 33 series GSM cell phone. For a GSM network in Europe the 33 series cell phone is the 3310, however for US GSM providers it is called the 3390 and for ATT subscribers it is called the 3360. Verizon has even another version of this phone and all 33 series phones look near identical except for the fact that they are mutually incompatible with each other's networks.

The best way to tell if your phone is compatible is to know either the exact model number of your phone or to know your provider of US cell phone service:

If you have a Sprint cell phone then your cell phone is CDMA.

If you have a Verizon cell phone then your cell phone is CDMA

If you have an ATT cell phone then your cell phone is probably TDMA but may be GSM

You can always feel free to email and ask us if your not sure or you can ask your dealer.

I have a GSM cell phone will it work overseas?

Maybe. Over 90 percent of the GSM phones sold in the United States of are GSM 1900 only and so will not function overseas. This is like bringing an AM radio to a city where they only have FM. Like the radio example you will not get a signal with your phone outside of North America.

Of course you can always purchase an international cell phone by clicking here.

If your phone is GSM and capable of function on either the 900 and/or 1800 frequency then your phone will work overseas.

I have a GSM tri-band (900/1800/1900) phone will the prepaid SIM cards work in my phone?

They will if your GSM cell phone is SIM unlocked. Ask the dealer who sold you your phone if it is SIM locked or unlocked. If your GSM cell phone is unlocked then any SIM card in the world will work in your phone.

If your phone is SIM locked it will NOT work with any other SIM card prepaid or otherwise.

How can I tell if my world cell phone is sim locked?

Telestial has no way of knowing whether your GSM cell phone is locked. Only your dealer or carrier will know this information.

If my GSM world cell phone is locked can I get it unlocked?

Sometimes. You will need to get an unlock code from the wireless operator who sold you the GSM cell phone. As an example: If Voicestream/Tmobile sold you a GSM world cell phone then it will be locked to the Voicestream/Tmobile SIM card and you would have to call Voicestream/Tmobile to get an unlock code. They may provide the SIM unlock code and then again they may not. GSM network operators lock GSM cell phones because they subsidize the phones and they expect to make the money back when you have to roam overseas. So when you think you got a cheap deal on a world phone with a 2-year contract…think again when you have to $1.99/minute for international roaming charges.

Are all of the GSM cell phones sold on the Telestial website SIM unlocked?

Absolutely. All phones sold through this website are unlocked.

Some of the phones are GSM 900/1800 and some of the phones are GSM 900/1800/1900 and still some other phones are GSM 900/1900. What is the difference and what phone should I get?

If you only plan on using the GSM cell phone outside of North and South America then all you would need to purchase is a GSM international cell phone capable of operating on the GSM 900/1800 frequencies. However this should not necessarily preclude a tri-band GSM world cell phone capable of operating on the GSM 900/1800/1900 frequencies. Although the 1900 frequency is of no value outside of the Americas you may want to consider a world phone because they are often smaller, lighter and have more features. Further you may even get a cheaper world cell phone that is lighter and smaller then a more expensively priced international cell phone.

A GSM cell phone that is capable of operating on the 900/1900 frequencies is best suited for travelers who will roam internationally with the global prepaid SIM card.

A world cell phone is one that operates on the GSM 900/1800/1900 frequencies and provides the greatest amount of geographical cell phone coverage possible. Of course the biggest appeal to North Americans is the ability to use these world cell phones with GSM network operators in the US, Canada and Mexico. Much of South America or at least the major metropolitan areas will be covered by GSM in the next 3 years as well.

Will I have voicemail?

All GSM cell phones are capable of voicemail but voicemail is a function of the network operator and so will be dependant on the SIM card in use. All of the prepaid SIM cards available through this site specify if voicemail is available.

When will get my phone number?

The SIM card determines your GSM cell phone number. Your GSM call phone will not have any service and consequently and phone number without a SIM card.

Will I be able to charge my GSM cell phone in the United States prior to departure?

If you purchase a GSM cell phone capable of operating on the 1900 frequency then you will be absolutely able to charge your GSM cell phone, which will include a charger that is 110-230v compatible. . If you purchase an international cell phone for overseas use only then you will usually get a charger that is NOT 110v compatible and consequently you will need a reverse converter if you wish to charge your GSM cell phone prior to departure.

If I order a GSM cell phone will it include the appropriate chargers and adapters for charging my phone overseas?

Your GSM cell phone package includes adapters for charging your international cell phone in the United States and our Europe only cell phones will ship with US to European wall plug adapters. To ensure you can charge your phone in any other countries, please consider our All-in-One International Plug Adapter.

Do I need a SIM card?

Absolutely. You will not have service for your GSM cell phone without a SIM card. Further, although you may be able to charge and power-up your GSM cell phone, however you may not be able to access any of the menu systems without a SIM card.

Can I put the SIM card into the phone prior to arriving at my next international destination?

Yes, you can insert the SIM card into your GSM cell phone and charge the phone (with the proper charger or reverse converter) prior for departure.

I purchased a GSM cell phone that only included a charger that will not work in the United States. How can I charge my cell phone before I depart?

You can purchase a reverse converter (usually about $15) or a car charger (also usually about $15). Car chargers can generally be used in automobiles overseas and in the North America..

Where in the world won't my GSM 900/1800 GSM cell phone work?

An international cell phone operating on the 900 and 1800 frequencies will not function in North America (excluding Washington D.C.) and much of South America. Islands in the Caribbean may be GSM 1900, GSM 900 or not GSM at all.

I put my SIM card in the phone, charged it up, and turned it on and the LCD menu prompts are all in a foreign language. How can I get my phone to "speak English"?

Most international cell phones "speak" 16 or more languages and the phones typically default to the native language of the SIM card that has been inserted. To change the language on your GSM cell phone to English or any other preference simply open up you phone manual and follow the menu tree, which is often provided in the beginning of the manual. Even if you don't speak the respective foreign language it is merely a matter of counting to get to the desired option on the phone. Of course, you can always contact us for assistance.

Can I use a world phone that operates on the GSM 900/1800/1900 frequencies all over the world?

The short answer to this question is…almost. Much of South and Central America recently converted to GSM only this year and so your coverage would potentially be very limited at best. In fact we recommend a Satellite Phone for anyone who is traveling to this part of the work and who absolutely needs to be in touch. Two big holes in Asia include Japan and S. Korea, however they have installed GSM overlays so that for those subscribers willing to pay to roam and pay $4/minute can have service. Much of the United States in fact is covered by analog cell phone service so when you here the phrase "world cell phone" even from us, it is a relative term.

I am currently overseas and I charged the phone up, inserted the SIM cards but I still can't make any calls. What am I doing incorrectly?

On many GSM tri-band cell phones you need to change the Band that the phone is operating on. If the band of your GSM cell phone is set to the 1900 frequency then when you arrive in Europe you will want to modify this setting to reflect the 900, 1800 or a combination 900/1800 frequencies. Usually you know you are not on the correct frequency if you do not a get a signal on the LCD of your cell phone, although this could also mean you are simply not in a good coverage area.

How do I dial from overseas to call the United States?

To place a Return-Call to the US from another country, dial the international access code or (+) key, followed by 1 and the 10 digit phone number. Please check your phone manual if you are not sure how to dial the (+) key from your phone, or read question #9.

Example: To dial 425 867 5309 from Ireland, you must dial: +1 425 867 5309. The international access code = (+) key, country code = 1, and then the phone number (425 867 5309) is dialed.

The (+) key allows you to make international calls without having to know the international access code of the country you are calling from. To access the (+) key:

Nokia - press (*) key twice in rapid succession.
Ericsson - press and hold the 0 key until the (+) sign appears.
Motorola - press and hold the 0 key until the (+) sign appears.
Bosch - press and hold the (*) key until the (+) sign appears.
Samsung - press and hold the 0 key until the (+) sign appears.

 


For more information on GSM and international cell phone service you may want to review the following links:

You may want to check out http://www.telestial.com/getting_started.php for an overview and benefits of GSM, GSM cell phones and service.

If your curious about the benefits of prepaid SIM cards then this link titled "Why Prepay" is a great place to start: http://www.telestial.com/prepaid.htm

Other FAQ pages of interest include:

GSM Mobile Phones

Satellite phones and areas outside of cellular coverage

Calling cards and how save even more money while abroad.

The Return-Call service, which is a bit more complicated then the calling card but can save you more money for the extra effort.

....and finally thee is the Glossary.