SIM Free Mobile Phones - The Future?

By: Gary Grant

Firstly let me start by explaining the difference between a SIMFree phone and the more traditional Contract or Pre-Pay mobilephone. SIM Free refers to GSM phones (see below for more onthis) that are sold without a connection or line. SIM Freephones have never been locked to a particular network. It can besaid that they are 'unlocked', but actually they have never beenlocked to begin with! This is better as it means that the phonesare in factory condition and are less likely to developproblems. They can therefore accept any SIM that is associatedwith a compatible frequency. A tri-band SIM Free phone will workon any GSM network in the world, but you must insert a SIM thatworks in the area you want to use it. All GSM 900 / GSM 1800compatible SIM Free phones will work on any UK SIM.

GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications)

The most important aspect of GSM is its standardisation. Thisallows a SIM card owner to insert the SIM into any SIM Free GSMphone (with compatible frequencies) and the phone would work.This standardisation also applies to anywhere one goes with aGSM network. This is provided that the correct frequency of thecard / network is available to that handset.

GSM frequencies are:

- GSM 900 (O2, Vodafone and most networks around the world)

- GSM 1800 (Orange, T-Mobile and some European networks)

- GSM 1900 (Used in USA & Canada)

Phones that are sold tied to a network such as Vodafone, O2,Orange etc. are programmed with all sorts of customisations thatcan make changing a network far more cumbersome than with a SIMFree phone. With the increasing trend in overseas travel, it ismuch more cost-effective to buy a SIM card local to the countryyou are visiting rather that paying the hefty costs that the UKnetworks charge for overseas calls. SIM Free phones offer theflexibility to do this.

The Future?

SIM Free phones are becoming increasingly popular in the UK andfurther afield, as the market is now very competitive, offeringconsumers a wide range of choice at very reasonable prices. Ofcourse a contract is still a very good option, but if you do notwant to be tied to a contract, or maybe have a slightly lessdesirable handset given to you by your employer, SIM Free offersa choice that many consumers haven't previously considered.

There are some very good online retailers offering exactly whatI've mentioned above. I've recently been involved with thelaunch of the website, which backed byextensive research offers a user-friendly interface, backed withall of the required technical information that the most clued upof customers would require.

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