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Why are U.S. Prepaid GSM SIM Cards so Limited and so Expensive?

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Old July 21st 03, 10:06 PM
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In article ,
Todd Allcock wrote:
A) GSM coverage in the USA is spotty at best,
certainly compared to CDMA or TDMA, at least
today, and ...

B) It might be a false economy for a European
traveller to bring their phone here and purchase
an American SIM when for only a little more
upfront and less per minute they can buy a
CDMA or TDMA prepaid phone.

If you have to shell out $100 for a phone and you only end up saving
$50 in airtime, then I wouldn't say it was a "false economy."

"We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail"
---President George W. Bush, September 20, 2001
Old July 23rd 03, 03:22 PM
John Navas
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[POSTED TO alt.cellular.cingular - REPLY ON USENET PLEASE]

In on 23 Jul 2003 00:56:02
-0700, (Todd Allcock) wrote:

I could easily point out that an activated pre-paid TDMA phone can be
had for less than $100 (CallPlus phones from
www.pharosint.com start
around $70, IIRC) and include 100 minutes of airtime. There are
online resellers of T-Mobile hawking prepaid SIMS for $90 that include
125 minutes, so the cost of a GSM pre-paid SIM and refurbished TDMA
phone are fairly close. ...

In addition:

ATTWS sells the GSM GoPhone prepaid complete with phone and SIM on the
Internet for $70. Add a rate plan and you're good to go; e.g., 80 anytime
minutes for $20, or a total of $90.

ATTWS sells the TDMA Free2Go prepaid complete with phone and $10 airtime
credit (20 local minutes or 11 national minutes) for $100.

Virgin Mobile sells a CDMA (Sprint network) prepaid phone with $20 airtime (at
least 80 minutes, or more depending on how much you use per day) on the
Internet for $60.

Cingular sells either a GSM or TDMA Prepaid phone with $30 airtime (at least
85 minutes, or more if off-peak) on the Internet for $70 after mail-in rebate.

AT&T won't sell pre-paid SIMS without a phone,

Actually it will. The nominal price is $25, but stores have promotional SIMs,
and I recently bought one for only $1.

and Cingular GSM
pre-paid SIMS only work in 4 states at the present ...

True, but TDMA Prepaid is also available (in TDMA areas).

Best regards,
John Navas http://navasgrp.home.att.net/ HELP PAGES FOR
CINGULAR GSM + ERICSSON PHONES: http://navasgrp.home.att.net/#Cingular
Old August 1st 03, 07:26 PM
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Posts: n/a

(Todd Allcock) wrote in message . com...
"Steven M. Scharf" wrote in message rthlink.net...

Then can run all three at 800MHz if they wish. Cingular
is already running 800MHz GSM in some markets.

They are, but it's very tricky to balance the subscriber
loads. They are trying very hard to convert their TDMA
subscriber to GSM so they can minimize the amount of TDMA.

They are just ****ing a lot of people off in the meantime.
You get used to the quality of AT&T TDMA and then you
change to AT&T GSM and it sucks...then you change to

FWIW, I find the sound quality of GSM much better than
TDMA. I'd love to find an 800MHz GSM provider where I

I'm not referring to the voice quality, I'm referring to
the coverage. There are a lot of very upset AT&T subscribers
that tried GSM and found it lacking.

You assume coverage is the only factor in wireless. I've run into a
lot of happy Cricket Wireless users in Denver. They forgive spotty
coverage and overloaded towers in return for $33/month unlimited

I don't assume it's the ONLY factor, but I contend that for
most people it's a deciding factor.

1900MHz carriers will compete other ways- take T-Mo for
example- they offer cheap plans, cheap data, and excellent customer
service. I have a phone with them, and their value makes up for the
comparably poor coverage

Can't disagree with that, and look at how well they are doing
in terms on subscriber additions.

Consumer Reports Best carriers:

Chicago: Verizon, 800 Mhz CDMA
Dallas: Verizon, 1900 Mhz CDMA
Los Angeles: Verizon, 800 Mhz CDMA (some 1900 Mhz as well)
New York: Verizon, 800 Mhz CDMA
San Francisco: Verizon, 800 Mhz CDMA (some 1900 Mhz as well)
Washington D.C.: Verizon, 800 Mhz CDMA

800 has advantages, not the least of which is over a decade

My point was, however, that the ridiculous GSM bashing I
constantly see really has nothing to do with GSM per se- it's
the carrier and the frequencies used.

I agree to a point. The complaints about some carriers have
little to do with GSM, it's more related to the frequencies
and the network buildout. But there are places where overloaded
networks are not going to be solved by GSM replacing TDMA,
where the problem would be solved with CDMA replacing TDMA.
I.e., look at AT&T in NYC, their TDMA network is very congested,
they're deploying 1900 Mhz GSM which will be problematic in
that area, and when they finally get to 850 Mhz GSM they will
still have capacity problems since GSM is so much less
spectrally efficient than CDMA.


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