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With all the technology available today, there are various ways for international students to remain connected to their families and friends at home, as well as with their friends and classmates on campus. Many international students get cell phones, purchase calling cards, and sign up for Skype soon after they arrive in the U.S. Staying connected is an important part of the international student experience.
Below is information and a list of resources that you may utilize to assist you in telephone or cell phone services while you are in the U.S. We do not specifically recommend any services or plans, but we provide this list as a resource. It is your responsibility to research these resources and determine suitability for your needs. Please note that information on this page is subject to change.
LTS Telephone Services
Provides information on services Wellesley offers and information for making international phone calls from campus phones and mobile phones from the U.S.
You may opt to use one of the many pre-paid international phone cards, which can be purchased at many different locations including grocery stores, drug stores, or on-line. Make sure you compare rates before you buy one of these cards. You may want to check if there is any fee just to connect. The site offers phone cards with no hidden charges.
Cell (Mobile, Wireless) Phone Service
Cell phones in the United States work on different frequencies than in most other parts of the world; therefore, even if you have a cell phone in your home country, it may not work here.
Tri-Band Phones & SIM Cards
If you have a cell phone that is a tri-band phone (a GSM phone that supports three of the four major GSM frequency bands, which work in most parts of the world) you will need to buy a new SIM card from a U.S. cellular company. A SIM card is a removable card that stores a user‘s service information as well as personal contacts. It allows users to change phones by simply removing the SIM card from one cell phone and replacing it with another.
Contract Plans and Prepaid (To-Go) Plans
All phone companies in the U.S. offer Contract Plans – this means, you have to sign a contract with the company in which you state that you will be using their service for a pre-determined length (usually two years), paying a monthly fee plus the charges for the services according to your rate-plan. However, this option can be difficult for newly arrived foreign citizens. Companies may require that you have at least a year of credit history on your credit card, which must be obtained in the United States, and a Social Security number. Without one of these, you may be required to pay a one-time fee, between $300-$600 (depending on the company), which will be returned to you upon completion of the contract.
A better option may be to apply for a Prepaid Plan, which is offered by most major companies and is also available through electronic retail stores (Best Buy, Radio Shack). A Prepaid Plan means you have to pay a fee (according to your rate-plan) a month in advance. You can terminate the service any time you like. However, you still need at least a debit/ATM card to be able to use this service. The company charges your card automatically, on the same date every month, unless you call to terminate your service. No subscription fee is required; you only pay the sum of your rate-plan.
Wellesley partners with MobileSphere to provide a service which allows you to call internationally from your cell phone. Learn more about this option.
If you want to buy a new cell phone, buying one along with a service plan directly from the company whose service you will use can get you a huge discount. Some phones are offered only together with the service, making them significantly cheaper than their original price. Below is a list of the major cell phone companies and their nearest store listings. Research the companies through their websites or in person before you make a decision.
85 Worcester Road
Framingham, MA 01701
Prepaid Plan Information
13 Boylston Street
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
1245 Worcester Street
Natick, MA 01760
745 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116
A reputable magazine and online resource regarding expert testing of products, including phone services, in the United States. http://www.consumerreports.org
10-10 Phone Number
You do not need to sign up for a plan, and the charge will be included in your regular phone bill. Visit http://www.1010phonerates.com for more information.
With the free download from http://www.skype.com, you can talk to your family or friends who are also online with no charge using your computer. You will need to install SKYPE, and set up a microphone and headsets/speakers. You can also call from your computer to regular phones (including international calls) with reasonable fees. Other services include free online chat and free video calls (if you have a webcam).
Instant Messenger Applications
You can talk to people using instant text messages by installing instant messenger applications provided by AOL, MSN, ICQ, or Yahoo. Go to their website to download the free messengers: http://www.aim.com, http://www.icq.com, http://www.webmessenger.msn.com, http://www.messenger.yahoo.com
All rooms on-campus have free wireless internet access, which you can connect to from your laptop. You can also access the internet from any one of the many computers on-campus. As a full time Wellesley student, you will have your own Wellesley email account, with a username and password, which allows you access to the Wellesley Portal.