Cell Phone Information

Cell Phones

The key to cell phones is that it must be an unlocked phone.

How to Unlock your phone.
GSM Phones sold in the United States are "locked," meaning that they can only be used on the network of the provider who sold them. This is only a software lock, though. Your phone provider can give you an unlock code that releases your phone for a fee. Sometimes it can take as long as a week for the original phone customer support to send an unlock code. Sometimes Japan and South Korea will require special handsets.

If your student decides to purchase phone here to take back home make sure to request an unlocked phone so that it can be used in their home country.  Some carriers do not carry unlocked phones in the store and may need to order it online.

Use a Foreign Cell Phone

Students can bring their unlocked cell phone – the key is that the phone is unlocked.

Go to Walmart, Meijers, etc. to purchase a SIM card. This is a small chip that identifies your phone on a local network and gives it a local number. You can buy prepaid SIM cards or monthly-contract versions.

The first time you make a purchase you want to purchase the package – which includes the SIM card and minutes. Packages look similar to below photos.


In the Dayton/Cincinnati region we have used  pay-as-you-go plan such as Net 10 or Straight Talk.  Walmart just came out with their own plan, but we have not tested it to see how the phone coverage is. Unlimited talk, text, and web with Net 10 and Straight Talk is approximately $50 monthly. After initial setup you can pay online and even auto pay for a reduced rate.

We do not suggest you initially purchase more than a 30 day card so that you can try it make sure it works for your area.  We have changed carriers after the first month because coverage was not good.

Once you get home you can activate your phone. It is easiest if you can use a computer. Following the instructions in the package.

Install the SIM card by removing your phone's battery and sliding out the existing SIM, then sliding the new one in. It is a fingernail-sized rectangular piece of plastic with one corner cut off.

Activate your new SIM card using the instructions enclosed with the card. Each SIM comes with an associated local number, The number will be printed on the SIM card's packaging.