If you are planning to travel to France and wish to have the use of a cellular phone, there are several features that your phone will need to have to ensure that is will be compatible with the French cellular system.
Like many other European countries, France still uses the GMS, which stands for the Global System for Mobile communications. As this system is second generation cellular technology and North America uses third generation, your regular cell phone may not be compatible. Many service providers still offer GMS phones upon request, so you may need to purchase one of these types specifically for your overseas travel.
You will also need to check with your service provider to ensure that your GMS cell phone can function using the 900 and 1800 frequencies that is also prevalent in Europe. The Untied States uses the 850 and 1900 frequencies.
To use your cell phone in France, you will need to switch the setting to the “roaming” feature. In some cases, you may also need to talk to your service provider to see if you will need to activate a special “overseas roaming” mode. Your service provider will more than likely charge you additional fees to use either of these features, which can be quite expensive.
You may want to check into “unlocking” your cell phone so that you can use a French service provider once you arrive in that country. Most service providers do not allow this, as they receive no money when you are using a different company. However, there are some companies online that can help you to pinpoint your phone’s code, allowing you to “unlock” it yourself. Your phone may prove to be too difficult for these companies to “unlock,” so you may not be able to use this option either.
You may wish to rent a cell phone once you arrive in France. The French cell phone rates are very inexpensive, with no fee for incoming calls and a low outgoing call charge. This cellular system also has clear reception in every corner of the country, so you can make calls anywhere you happen to be. You can rent one of these devices at any of the major airports as well as by more traditional methods, such as various stores or looking in a French phone book. Unlike several other countries, you do not need proof of residency such as a French driver’s license to obtain one of these phones.
The rates for the phones themselves run between $25 and $50 per week plus an additional charge for placing and receiving cell phone calls. Calls to the United States cost approximately $.80 per minute, which is much less expensive than the rates charge by American service providers for the “overseas roaming” feature, which can cost $1.25. These devices allow you to take advantage of the same cell phone rates that the French citizens enjoy.
As you can see, if you wish to have the use of a cellular phone while you are visiting France, your best option is to rent a French cell phone. You will be assured of having excellent reception at very reasonable rates.