Newsletter #285

Newsletter #285 - September 23, 2015

Cell Phone Unlocking

>>> Cell Phone Unlocking >>>

Keeping your voice and data cellular usage affordable while cruising in other countries can be complex. Last week's newsletter provided a way to buy a SIM card from Mr SIM Card ( prior to arriving in a new country. For a small fee, they provide great service and convenience (and an ActiveCaptain discount).

But will a SIM card for a foreign country work with your cell phone?

Chances are, it won't. There are two main issues - the radio technology used by your phone, and whether your phone will allow a SIM from another provider to work when inserted into your phone.

This week, we'll tackle the SIM card and unlocking issues. Next week, we'll discuss GSM vs CDMA technologies. And finally we'll show how to use Skype for international calling to tie everything together in a very cost-effective way.

A Subscriber Identity Module card (SIM) is the small card you insert into a phone, tablet, MiFi, or other cellular device to give it access to a cellular provider's network. It has a unique identification so your phone number and account can be linked together allowing your phone to be found when sending and receiving calls. We'll assume that most of you have inserted a SIM into a device.

Starting a few years ago when smartphones began costing more than we paid for our first outboard engine, providers offered great deals if you purchased one of the expensive phones with their 2-year plan. An $800 smartphone could be purchased for $199. Some devices like MiFi's were free. But of course, it wasn't really free.

The provider needed a way to ensure that you didn't take your phone elsewhere before you paid for it through their monthly fees. So they "locked" the phone to only work on their network. If you obtained a SIM from another provider, it wouldn't work on the locked phone.

There were ways to unlock a phone but they often involved accessing the hacker world. We unlocked a phone years ago by paying $35 to a Croatian website for special codes and software to unlock the phone. Hopefully.

A common reason users would "Jailbreak" an iPhone was to unlock the phone to insert other SIM cards. You could buy an unlocked phone but they were very expensive.

In the US, everything changed in 2013 when new laws required every US provider to have a way for their phones to be unlocked if you met certain requirements. Once you met the rules, the provider must provide a way to unlock the phone for free. The FCC specifically banned fees for unlocking a phone.

So before you head off to another country, make sure you have access to an unlocked phone. Here are some things to consider.

- Go to your provider's website to find their unlocking requirements. If you can unlock your phone, do it now. An unlocked phone will continue to work fine with your existing SIM.

- If you like to have the latest mobile phone, don't trade in your old phone for the next one especially if it has tethering. Instead, keep the phone and unlock it since you probably meet the unlocking requirements. Tethering is important to allow other devices to access the internet through the phone. It's called Personal Hotspot on Apple devices.

- Consider buying an unlocked phone. They are often available in foreign country cell provider offices. Mr SIM Card even sells unlocked phones and there are thousands available on eBay. But make sure the phone has the capabilities you need.

- Make sure you have a cellular amplification strategy for the unlocked phone as part of your requirements. Cellular amplification is very important when cruising in foreign countries. It can make a difference when you need to make a call, check weather, or access other services.

When we got our iPhone 6's, we kept an iPhone 5 and unlocked it. It is our Bahamas phone. When we insert the BTC Bahamas SIM, we have a Bahamas phone number and access to their 4G internet network. Because the iPhone 5 has tethering, we can use our laptops, tablets, and even our TV to access the internet. (We don't connect the TV - but we could.)

The iPhone 5 was our main phone before so it fits perfectly into our amplifier onboard - see previous newsletters about cellular amplifiers.

Finally, SIM cards have memory space. That space was used to hold your contacts. Move the SIM to another phone and all your contacts moved. But that is rarely used any longer. Now your contacts are part of the phone or part of the cloud, Google, or iTunes backup. Don't be concerned about losing data by switching SIMs. It doesn't happen any longer.

>>> Defender 1st >>>

Watch this spot every week in the emailed newsletter for the Defender 1st special promotion. To sign up for the newsletter, create a new ActiveCaptain account at:

...or log into the ActiveCaptain website and select My Account at the top right of the page and make sure the Newsletter checkbox is checked.

Remember - Defender 1st: one product, one week, one incredible price.

When you're thinking about purchasing boating supplies, think of Defender first.

Dylan and Dee Dee have settled into a comfortable routine here in Solomons, Maryland - bumper chasing in the morning followed by breakfast and a long walk in the evening followed by dinner, with some sleeping in-between. But they've also found time to address the issue of onboard safety harnesses. Check out Dylan and Dee Dee's blog for their 3rd installment:

Karen and Jeffrey Siegel
Castine, Maine
sharing the experience
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Newsletter Archive
We are currently merging the different ActiveCaptain websites into a single website.

Because of this, all later newsletters are being only put onto the ActiveCaptain Help Center found here:
ActiveCaptain Help Center : Newsletters

Older newsletters will be duplicated here until these pages are removed.

2016-03-02 #308 - Unexpected Benefits
2016-02-24 #307 - UK's MCA
2016-02-17 #306 - Chartplotter Support Questions
2016-02-10 #305 - One Giant Leap
2016-02-03 #304 - Bahamas Internet
2016-01-27 #303 - Community Anchoring
2016-01-20 #302 - Sharing Your Identity
2016-01-13 #301 - ActiveCaptain is...
2016-01-06 #300 - MMXVI
2015-12-30 #299 - The Power of Sharing
2015-12-23 #298 - Joyful times
2015-12-16 #297 - Thoughts of Cuba
2015-12-09 #296 - The Power of Love
2015-12-02 #295 - Windyty
2015-11-25 #294 - Mary Had a Little Lamb
2015-11-18 #293 - DeLorme inReach
2015-11-11 #292 - Celebrating Furuno
2015-11-04 #291 - Your ActiveCaptain Identity
2015-10-28 #290 - iPad/Android Tablet Owners
2015-10-21 #289 - The Top 5 Things...
2015-10-14 #288 - Skype
2015-10-07 #287 - Locations 1.2
2015-09-30 #286 - Cell Phone Frequency Issues
2015-09-23 #285 - Cell Phone Unlocking
2015-09-16 #284 - Mr SIM Card
2015-09-09 #283 - Route Storage & Sharing Continued
2015-09-02 #282 - Route Storage & Sharing
2015-08-26 #281 - Here's What You Told Us
2015-08-19 #280 - Bahamas 2016
2015-08-12 #279 - What is Services Missing?
2015-08-05 #278 - Aqua Map for Android
2015-07-29 #277 - Obtaining Critical Mass
2015-07-22 #276 - Our Backup Anchor
2015-07-15 #275 - Which Anchor is Best
2015-07-08 #274 - Pocket Mariner's SeaNav
2015-07-01 #273 - Services Galore
2015-06-24 #272 - Canvas and Upholstery Services
2015-06-17 #271 - Locations, Locations, Locations
2015-06-10 #270 - Keeping Track of Everything - 4

Archive Complete list of all newsletters
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