I had to go down to Las Vegas for PubCon last week, and did not want to repeat SES San Jose – That was the first conference I went to EVER without a cell phone. Man did that suck.
Living in Canada, and traveling to the US for business limits the cell phone plans you can use. If I was to use a canadian provider I would get reamed when I am in the US, a US provider reams me when I am in Canada, not only that, Canadian cell phone companies want you to sign a three year contract to get a free phone…what a crock. Compare prepaid and traditional cell phone plans here.
My thought was to get a cheap pay as you go phone for conference in the US, and hack the phone (make it an unlocked gsm phone) so I could swap SIM cards and use it in Canada…
I did a bit of research and needed to find a prepaid GSM provider. I found a cool site called prepaid cell phone reviews, which listed various providers and phone options. After some reading I decided the cheapest option was to use Cingular Wireless GoPhone.
I decided to get a sony t290a, due to its price, and features:
I knew I could not ship it to Canada, so I sent it to my parents house, and was able to grab it before heading down to Vegas. So far the experience with cingular wireless gophone has been good. I had to recharge the card and maybe spent $10 that week while in vegas…that means no contract, no nothing, but airtime…pretty cheap to stay in touch with everyone. So figure the total cost was $63 with tax, and I can use it every time I am in the US…pretty sweet deal.
After returning to Canada, I found my plan would soon fail, since I get ZERO bars of reception on the phone. This means that Cingular has zero reception in Canada…so that sucks. The next step will e to break the locking on the phone and turn it into an Unlocked phone, which will allow me to place a rogers.ca SIM card in it, and make calls at a local canadian rate, as well as use the phone for emergencies and the like while living in Canada. I also plan to be in Barbados in a month or so, so It will be nice to get another card down there, and use the phone on their local network. The bottom line is unlocked GSM phones are bad ass, and the cell phone companies in the US and Canada are complete pricks for selling locked handsets.