Which cellular network does Straight Talk use

Mobile prepaid internet in the USA? That's how it's done!

I can hardly do without my cell phone when I am abroad. It doesn't always have to be about email, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Apps have also become an indispensable part of my travels. Fortunately, it is no longer difficult to get a prepaid SIM card with mobile internet for your smartphone in the USA and Canada.

Quickly share the latest holiday snapshot on Facebook, check in on Foursquare or simply find out where the best steak is now. Even when traveling abroad, my cell phone is always with me. But for a long time I haven't been interested in the horrendous roaming costs of the local telecommunications providers. Instead, I use prepaid SIM cards in the respective travel destination, such as in the USA.

While until recently in the United States, for example, AT&T only came up with a prepaid tariff (or, as it is called in the USA: “Pay as you go”) for smartphones, that's no longer a problem - neither for normal SIMs, nor for micro- or nano-SIMs. The only requirement: a smartphone that does not have a SIM lock.

Quick and Dirty: This is how you get a prepaid SIM card

  • Before you travel to the USA, find out where there is an AT&T store near the airport, the rental car station or the hotel. This saves you the hassle of searching in the travel destination, after all, with the exception of expensive roaming, you still have no mobile internet.
  • Make a conscious decision to choose an official AT&T store and not a retailer. There they can help you better and activate the SIM card for you right away.
  • Take your cell phone to the store and ask for a pay-as-you-go plan. Let yourself be advised or find out about the possible prepaid subscriptions in advance. On my last trip to the USA, I opted for the $ 60 plan, which includes 2GB of data and unlimited phone calls, SMS and MMS. By the way: The clerk will ask you for an address in the USA. I always give the address of the shop myself - it works wonderfully!
  • Let the AT&T employee configure your smartphone right away and ask for a "Customer Service Summary". On the two-page summary you will find all the information about your new prepaid SIM, which services are included, how you can top up your account or manage it online.
  • Important! Finally, make sure that the AT&T employee cancels your “Monthly Plan” immediately or interrupts the automatic monthly renewal. Even better: Log into your account online (you can find the relevant data on the “Customer Service Summary”) and cancel the automatic renewal. Otherwise the costs for your “Monthly Plan” will be charged to your credit card every month. Unfortunately, AT&T discontinued the more customer-friendly pay per use option, which was not automatically renewed, some time ago.

And other providers like T-Mobile or Verizon?
In the USA, the telcos Sprint, Verizon and US Cellular use CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology, while AT&T and T-Mobile support the quasi-standard GSM (Global System for Mobiles). The systems are not compatible with each other. And so we Europeans can only use the AT&T or T-Mobile networks with our cell phones. Even for T-Mobile there is still a restriction for fast internet: While AT & Ts 3G and 4G uses the frequency bands 850 and 1900 Mhz and is therefore compatible with European smartphones, T-Mobile still uses 1700 Mhz frequencies in many areas, with which, for example, a European iPhone cannot do anything. The result: You're sitting there with a lame EDGE connection. But T-Mobile is actively building its network, which is also compatible with European cell phones. So it shouldn't be long before T-Mobile USA also becomes a viable alternative to AT&T for travelers.

Until then, there are so-called virtual operators on the AT&T network, as we know them in this country from Migros M-Budget Mobile (uses the Swisscom network) or Aldi Talk (uses the E-Plus network) also advertise interesting offers. Examples are black wireless or straight talk. So far, however, I have not tried any of the above.

What are your experiences with pay-as-you-go SIMs in the US? Do you have experience with other telecommunications providers?

Tom Brühwiler has been writing on the Internet for over 14 years. As BloggingTom, he is widely known as a blogger from the very beginning. Since the children left the house, he has returned to his passion for traveling. He really wants to know it again and explores the big wide world as well as nearby Switzerland. Always with him: his love of discovery and his camera.