Can I use my current mobile phone in Belgium?

 

If you have a GSM purchased in Europe, Australia, or Asia:

Your mobile phone will probably work just fine in Belgium, as long as your mobile can handle GSM 1800MHz so do check with your provider before putting it in the suitcase.  However, you will be paying roaming fees for incoming calls and outgoing calls, which could quickly cost you a fortune.
Therefore, you should consider buying a SIM card specific for Belgium.  All GSM phones contain a thumbnail-sized chip called a SIM card.  The SIM card determines your phone number.  If you go to a different country like Belgium and want a new number so that you can make outgoing calls at the local rate, you don't need to buy a new phone.  You can just buy a new SIM card to replace the original one.
Be careful if you do this, however.  Many phone companies "lock" their phones so they will not accept competitors' SIM cards.  If you plan to use a GSM phone in more than one country, ask if the phone is SIM-locked before you buy it (if you donít already own one).  If it is, ask if they are willing to give you the code to unlock the phone so that you can use different SIM cards in different countries.

 

If you have a Japanese cell phone:

You won't be able to use your mobile phone anywhere in Belgium (or anywhere outside Japan for that matter).  Your best option is to buy an international phone from J-Phone if youíre only staying in Europe for a short time.  Otherwise, youíre better off buying a mobile phone in Belgium (see below).

 

If you have a North American cell phone:

You can probably not use your mobile phone in Belgium, and if you can, you probably won't want to; the roaming fees are astronomical.  Your options are :

To buy a new phone in Belgium:
Telephone stores are everywhere in Europe, so if you prefer to wait until you arrive, tracking one down is no problem.  For less than 100 dollars, you'll get a basic telephone, a SIM card, and a small amount of prepaid calling.
Using a mobile phone in Europe will almost always cost more than using a public phone booth.  But for people who want to be easily reachable while traveling, or who like the convenience of a phone at their disposal, buying a phone to use for traveling can be a worthwhile splurge.  Local calls cost anywhere from 20 to 75 cents per minute, depending on where you are and the time of day.
Incoming calls are usually free in Belgium, so even if you don't make a lot of outgoing calls, having a phone gives you a steady number where people can reach you throughout your trip.  When you're running low on pre-paid time, it's easy to "refill" your minutes at phone stores, news stands, grocery stores, and sometimes on your phone with a credit card.

To buy a new phone in the US and bring it with you:
In the United States, most mobile phone providers do not operate on the GSM network. However, Cingular and Voice Stream are two that do.  Unfortunately, they charge exorbitant rates, ranging from 99 cents to $3.99 per minute for both incoming and outgoing calls, if you use your US phone number overseas.  With prices this high, it's usually cheaper to buy a second phone in Europe if you plan to make more than a few calls.
Both of these companies, however, sell phones that you can use in the US and overseas. Again, you must be sure before buying the phone that they unlock it so you can insert European SIM cards while traveling.  The other thing you must be sure of is that you are buying a "tri-band" phone.  Even on the GSM network, mobile phones in America operate on different frequencies from those in most other countries.  A tri-band phone enables you to switch the phone to the European frequencies when traveling.
Telestial is a US-based company that sells Europe-compatible cell phones.  Telestial's tri-band phones cost more than you are likely to pay in Europe; however, their two-band phones, which work in Europe and most other parts of the world, are reasonably priced.  Their phones are not SIM-locked, so you can buy a new card whenever you enter a new country (usually for around $25).  They also sell SIM cards and prepaid calling for certain countries so that you don't have to track them down when you arrive.
 

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