Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Local Number? Roaming?

To answer a question just posted here, you won't get a local number is Tracfone, in its coverage map area, does not list phones of your technology (GSM or CDMA). If, for example, you have a GSM phone (like I did) in an area that Tracfone doesn't have down as being GSM (only CDMA phones show up on the coverage map view), you will not be able to activate phones using that zip and, unless another, GSM-enabled zip near you has numbers local to your zip, you won't get a local number.

About roaming, CDMA Tracfones are programmed with specific "system IDs" (SIDs for short) in which the phone will register as in home service. Everywhere else, whether your phone is still on the network it was activated on (usually Verizon) the phone will say it's roaming and charge as such (this is the big advantage of the LG 3280: roaming costs nothing extra!). I'm a little bit more fuzzy about GSM roaming, but I'm pretty sure that the phone will only say it's roaming if it's actually on a different provider's towers than the one it was activated with. Not that it matters anyway though; while roaming features and rates are the exact same for SingleRate GSM phones.


gnitgnat said...

I think I can explain the roaming and local number question a little (and forgive me while I vent a little too!) CDMA Tracfones charge roaming. GSM phones do not. I just learned today on HoFo that when you buy a Tracfone from the Tracfone website and plug in your zipcode, you need to look in the URL. If the URL says CDMA towards the end just before the zip code you provided, you will get assigned a CDMA phone. If that's not what you want, then pick a different zip. If it says GSM4, you get Tmobile for your carrier. If it says GSM5, you get Cingular. So you can play with the zip codes to get the primary carrier that gives you the best signal in the area you will use the phone the most. The poster who explained this did not say what numbers applied to Verizon or Sprint, if any, sorry. Second, not all areas CAN get a local phone number from Tracfone. I live in an area where the local phone company is so ridiculously tiny that the FCC has exempted it from having to share its numbers with the competition. This means Tracfone can't even get local exchanges in my area. Neither can Sprint, Verizon, Tmobile, Cingular, AT&T or anybody else. The local company has an effective monopoly. And they are also legally exempt from the lovely "porting" law! So in my neighborhood, there is no such thing as a LOCAL cell phone number because the LOCAL phone company doesn't sell cell phones! Third, having a local cell phone number is NOT the same thing as calling long distance on your cell phone. Calling any North American number FROM your GSM Tracfone costs 1 unit, whether your screen says Tracfone or Roaming. Calling your Tracfone from your home landline might very well be a long distance call for the reasons stated above, and there might be nothing you can do to change that.

gnitgnat said...

Oops - reverse the GSM4 and GSM5- GSM4 = Cingular, GSM5 = Tmobile... Sorry!