On the (International) Road Again

June 20th, 2012 at 6:36 am

Headed up to Canada to talk inequality–they’ve got some too, though we rule on this dubious metric.

Ergo, unlikely to post much today.

Also, unlikely to be able to use my Verizon Android cell phone.  If I want to use the smart phone in another country, I have to tell my Verizon puppet masters a week in advance.  They then send me a different phone in the mail which I aimlessly futz with for about an hour until it ceases resistance and activates.  Then, when I get home, I put it back in the box, send it to them and they reactivate my old one.

I don’t want to get all Thomas Friedman-y on y’all, but is this any way to win the future?  I get that these smart phones are amazing advances and I very much appreciate their capabilities.  But users ought to be able to cross borders and still use the thing without jumping through hoops.  In fact, I understand many phones have replaceable SIM cards that easily facilitate international use.

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11 comments in reply to "On the (International) Road Again"

  1. Christopher C. says:

    I’m not a Verizon rep, but I deal with all the Verizon lines for work (over a hundred) and have my family lines with Verizon as well.

    You just have to update your Android phone to a “world” phone. My partner travels to China and India and all I have to do is call Verizon to add an “international plan” as needed and he’s good to go. The new Samsung Galaxy S III (which I’ve already pre-ordered) is a world phone. Time for an upgrade???


    • Bill Gatliff says:

      Others can address Verizon’s policies and devices specifically. I’m with AT&T, however, and while their general quality of service in the USA leaves something to be desired, I can personally attest to the compatibility of their truly “world” phones with overseas operation. To date I have tested the Samsung Galaxy Skyrocket in several European countries, India, Japan, and Taiwan. Will be adding Brazil to the list in a few days.

      You have to get their “international” service plan if you don’t want to spend a fortune, however. Fortunately, they have the sense enough to make it a’la carte so you can turn it on and off as you need it.

      Love your On The Economy posts, which among other things give me reassurance that someone with common sense is still out there. The fact that they make economics comprehendible to me is a nice bonus, too. :)


      • Jared Bernstein says:

        Thanks much! Is AT&T quality in the US worse than Verizon (I find V pretty good, actually, as long as you don’t cross the border)?


  2. cat says:

    Its not the way to win the future, but to turn smart phones into global devices would require governments to pick winners and losers by mandating standards and that won’t go over well in the US.


  3. David Siegel says:

    I just used my Verizon Droid Global for a week in Canada for both text and data with no problem. Just costs money.


  4. The Raven says:

    Buy an unlocked international phone; you can get one from Google, see http://www.google.com/nexus/ . Telestial also makes a business of international phones, but some of their offerings are dicey.

    Verizon has the best coverage of all the US cell carriers. They also have, in my experience, customer service so awful that I hope I never do business with them again.

    Price? Well…not. This is expensive. Cell service in the USA is overpriced by, near as I can figure, 5-10x.


  5. Bumpa says:

    I heartily agree about the “jumping through hoops.” Personally, I refuse to use a phone that carries with it more potential than I can easily comprehend (“hold mode for 3 sec, then enter pin #, press send…” is NOT intuitive!) Makes one yearn for the days of a loooooooong string and a couple of Dixie Cups!


  6. Fred Brack says:

    Is this an inappropriate place, Mr. Berstein, to commend you for your restraint on the Dylan Ratigan show today (Thursday)? Normally I mute MCNBC when Ratigan is on, but when I saw you, I listened. I was amused to observe your head bobbing back and forth as we all struggled to understand whatinthehell Ratigan was talking about. You looked like a cockatoo trying to comprehend a speech by Prof. Irwin Corey.


  7. David says:

    Outside the US, all the world uses the GSM standard, which greatly facilitates international phone use. “GSM” means “Global System for Mobile Communications.” This is the “interchangable SIM card” standard. The US has refused to mandate GSM. In the US, AT&T and T-Mobile voluntarily use the standard, Verizon does not. So, while the Verizon network coverage is very good in the US, it is effectively zero outside the US. The frequencies and protocols are simply not compatible. There is no real technological fix for this, other than Verizon finally adopting the global standard (which would require a gigantic capital investment on their part).


    • Jared Bernstein says:

      Are the other carriers truly inferior re US coverage? Otherwise, seems a no-brainer for anyone who travels abroad to switch.


  8. Misaki says:

    >In fact, I understand many phones have replaceable SIM cards that easily facilitate international use.

    What I was thinking. I guess it’s a problem of the frequencies or technologies used?


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