Using A Mobile Phone in England

This summer, we are traveling to England for a home exchange.  We will have the use of the phone and internet at  the home where we will be staying.  But, what should we do about cell phones when we are out and about, sightseeing?

We live in the USA.  We have an IPhone 4.  Verizon Wireless is our provider.

First, I went online to see what I could learn from the Verizon Wireless website.

Then, I called Verizon Customer Support to make sure I understood what I read online.  Basically, I learned that things are much the same as they were when we went to Norway a couple of years ago.  I thought things might have changed because we didn’t own an IPhone until a year ago.

Well, things might be different for people who have an IPhone and a carrier other than Verizon.  But, here is what works for us at this time…

1) We will use a rental phone that Verizon provides at no cost.  Verizon will ship this to rental phone to us.  We will ship it back when we return to the USA.  Our Verizon-compatible IPhone 4 simply will not work in England.

2) We plan to use our rental phone only for voice calls and text messaging.  For us, the data plan costs more than it is worth.  We can use the rental phone with a public WiFi, but our experience trying to do that when we were in Norway was very frustrating, so we are not going to count on this feature.  If it works out that using our rental phone with WiFi is an easy thing, fine. However, we plan to use our laptop and the internet connection at our home exchange residence for most of our email, streaming media, and browsing.

3) We are going to add the Verizon Wireless Global “Value Plan” option to our rental phone for $4.99 per month.  This will bring the price of phone calls down from $1.29 per minute to $.99 per minute.  The cost of text messaging is $.50 for each message sent and $.05 for each message received—regardless of whether or not we have the “Value Plan.”

I believe that our son and daughter-in-law used their IPhones when they were in Italy last year, but their provider is AT&T.  So, maybe the AT&T IPhone is more versatile as a global phone than is the Verizon IPhone.

While we are in England, we are going to keep our eyes open to see what other cell phone options are available.  For now, though, I am content with the solution that is available to us.  In the past, this worked out well-enough for “calls on the go.”  And, as I recall, while in Italy, our son and daughter-in-law made extensive use of FaceTime and Skype for video calls and phone calls using WiFi.  This seems the most likely way we will stay in touch with our family and friends in the USA while we are in England.

Photo: Iphone 4 Apps by Sean MacEntee is licensed under CC by 2.0.