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Thread: Is this the best way to do Prepaid in France?

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    Is this the best way to do Prepaid in France?

    I have read all the threads here and please let me now if I have this understood correctly.

    I have an unlocked GSM Sony Ericsson T616 in the USA. I will take it with me to France, when I arrive I can go to somewhere in the airport or another store that sells Orange Prepaid SIM chips. I pop out my cingular chip, put in the orage, and then I have a French number. When I run out of minutes, I can recharge the card. Let me know if I missed a step. Also, ....

    My questions are:
    How do I recharge, over the phone or where I bought the SIM Chip?
    If it is over the phone, do the Orange recharge reps speak English?
    What is the rate to call and be called from the USA with this mobilecarte prepaid Orange Card?
    Thanks

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    Even airport employees have a hard problem with speaking English

    Orange offers (IMHO) the best pre-paid service. You pay 30 euros for the starter kit which includes 10 mins of airtime and 10 mins of WAP (no GPRS for pre-paid yet...) You can purchase pre-paid cards at almost any electronics store and many kiosks, and you can also recharge your account via any France Telecom payphone (FT owns Orange), however you need to have a Euro-style smartcard credit card or bank card. There is a large chain of stores here called The Phonehouse, their reps are great and will be more than happy to set you up.

    According to the latest rate sheet (http://www.orange.fr/images/ge/high/..._tarifaire.pdf) calling Zone 2 (North America) from within France will set you back 0.80 euros a minute, calculated to the nearest second. For someone to call you from the USA to a French mobile number is entirely dependent on their long distance plan. I know it costs my friends and family $0.50 CAN per minute to call my SFR mobile, however if they were to call me on a landline it woudl only be about $0.15 CAN per minute. Incoming calls are free in Europe unless you are roaming (outside of your carriers country).

    I have not yet seen a store within the airports that sells the 30 euro setup package, all I have seen have been recharge cards for sale.

    If I can be of any further assistance do not hesitate to ask.
    Last edited by Deaks2; 04-25-2004 at 08:44 AM.

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    There are 2 other factors you have to be aware of...

    1. Is the phone locked or unlocked? As I understand, many of Cingular's phones are unlocked which means you will be able to use other SIM cards than just Cingular's.

    2. The other one may be more problematic. American GSM carriers operate on different frequencies than do most of the rest of the world. American operators use both 850 and 1900; although T mobile only uses 1900. European carriers use combinations of 900 and 1800.

    The rub comes that the T616 is a rip off of the T610 world phone. The T616 is a tri band, but it uses 850/1800/1900 instead of 900/1800/1900. That means if you go to a country, and I don't know if this is true of France, where carriers use GSM 900 exclusibvely, you could be up the creek without a paddle so using that particular phone, you have to check very carefully what GSM frequencies the various carriers use.

    I ran into this problem recently when I ordered a SET300 from an internet merchant and without telling me, they sent me the T306. Their reps kept insisting the T306 was an upgrade of the T300 and they were doing me a favour but of course as anybody who knows about mobile phones knows, it is a completely different phone. It is a tri band 850/1800/1900 instead of the necessary 900/1800/1900. It was a hassle with them returning the phones and those bastards are not refunding me the shipping costs I incurred to return this piece of garbage phone they sent me. I am pursuing the matter with the better business bureau.

    So this is one consequence of the US, for whatever the reason whether it be good or bad, going its own way with GSM.

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    Good points!

    France uses both GSM 900 & 1800, however 900 is really only necessary in the Alps due to the lack of infrastructure.

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    Hi Deaks, thanks for the info. Let me ask you this. If I am going to be there for 2 months solid, using the phone quite a bit, should I still go prepaid or should I sign up for an account with them. I thought I might get a better deal by getting an account but if they are like the US they require a 1 or 2 year contract. If they do have a contract term, is there any kind of big bulk prepaid I can buy.
    Thanks
    Michael

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    For a contract you need French residencey (temp or permanent).

    I recommend pre-paid for the 2 months ur gonna be here.

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    Re: Is this the best way to do Prepaid in France?

    Originally posted by mikeap
    I have read all the threads here and please let me now if I have this understood correctly.

    I have an unlocked GSM Sony Ericsson T616 in the USA. I will take it with me to France, when I arrive I can go to somewhere in the airport or another store that sells Orange Prepaid SIM chips. I pop out my cingular chip, put in the orage, and then I have a French number. When I run out of minutes, I can recharge the card. Let me know if I missed a step. Also, ....

    My questions are:
    How do I recharge, over the phone or where I bought the SIM Chip?
    If it is over the phone, do the Orange recharge reps speak English?
    What is the rate to call and be called from the USA with this mobilecarte prepaid Orange Card?
    Thanks
    You can recharge with a recharge card you buy at any "TABAC". You don't need to "speak" with anyone, it's all done by IVR. There may be an english option, but learning enough french to manage navigating the IVR shouldn't be that hard.

    Like many mobile operators, it seems almost impossible to find info on their international tariffs. With a lot of companies, I can't even seem to get this from their customer care people, and I've ended up just making a call of exactly one minute and checking balance before and after to figure out the tariff.

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    Or you can just locate the fiche de tarrif on their www-site (usually a PDF) and look it up...

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    Originally posted by Deaks2
    Or you can just locate the fiche de tarrif on their www-site (usually a PDF) and look it up...
    If you think it exists, you show me where -- there are more and more operators out there that do have a price list, and their customer care people are completely incapable of providing the information either. It's easy enough to say "you can just locate" it, but I'd love to hear from anyone who can locate an international price list on either vodafone.co.uk or orange.fr, for starters.

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    Originally posted by polonius
    If you think it exists, you show me where -- there are more and more operators out there that do have a price list, and their customer care people are completely incapable of providing the information either. It's easy enough to say "you can just locate" it, but I'd love to hear from anyone who can locate an international price list on either vodafone.co.uk or orange.fr, for starters.
    Orange France: http://www.orange.fr/images/ge/high/..._tarifaire.pdf

    SFR: http://www.sfr.fr/pdf/offre/tarifs/b...if_lacarte.pdf

    Bouygues: http://www.forfaits.bouyguestelecom....s_Forfaits.pdf

    Took me all of 4 mins to find this on their respective web-sites. Now if you cannot understand them because you do not speak French then I cannot help you.

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    To set things straight with the 900 vs. 1800 coverage in France:

    If you're going to be in the major metropolitan areas in France (Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, etc) you should be just fine with the T616. If you'll be in rural areas, then you most likely will need a phone with 900 on it.

    Both Orange and SFR operate dual band 900/1800 networks there. Bouygues Telecom operates their network at 1800 in most of France with some 900 in certain areas where capacity is an issue.

    If you're looking for the best coverage no matter where you go in France, go with Orange or SFR. Bouygues' network is the newest over there and has the fewest cell sites but still works very well.

    My honest opinion, get a phone with 900 if possible. You will get much better coverage.

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    Originally posted by scandal8290
    To set things straight with the 900 vs. 1800 coverage in France:

    If you're going to be in the major metropolitan areas in France (Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, etc) you should be just fine with the T616. If you'll be in rural areas, then you most likely will need a phone with 900 on it.

    Both Orange and SFR operate dual band 900/1800 networks there. Bouygues Telecom operates their network at 1800 in most of France with some 900 in certain areas where capacity is an issue.

    If you're looking for the best coverage no matter where you go in France, go with Orange or SFR. Bouygues' network is the newest over there and has the fewest cell sites but still works very well.

    My honest opinion, get a phone with 900 if possible. You will get much better coverage.
    Bouygues works great in the Southern Alps, with Orange and SFR I was signal-less for a week!

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    Originally posted by Deaks2
    Bouygues works great in the Southern Alps, with Orange and SFR I was signal-less for a week!
    I agree -- perhaps two years ago there was a big difference in coverage between Bouyges and the others, but now -- unless you are planning to be in some really rural areas, like Bretagne or the massif central -- I don't think you'll find the coverage difference that significant.

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    With the T616 I really suggest to buy a Bouygues prepaid card (Nomad) since this operator mainly works on 1800, while the 2 others (expecially SFR), work mostly on 900MHz and he could really have much problems also in big towns.

    So, IMHO, with the T616 take Bouygues, with a 900/1800 phone take Orange or SFR... or Bouygyes again, since it's usually the cheapest!
    Greetings from Charlie "Effendi"
    Genova, Italy

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    My girlfriend is currently away at school for 6 weeks in france. I bought her an unlocked Ericson r520 off ebay for 60 bucks. She bought a SIM card when she got to Tours. It wourks great. She calls me, says "Hi Call me back ::click::" I call her back on my cell and free for her and $0.23 for me (www.gorillamobile.com)
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