Fieldnotes: GSM phone frequencies

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Communications in the field is always a problem. GSM is the cellular technology that is used in most of the world. In the USA, Cingular and T-Mobile are the only providers with GSM networks. If you travel a lot, this list of GSM phone frequencies can come in handy: (died due to link rot) or here: or If link rot kills them all, there's always google (updated 2006.04.17)

I have a T-Mobile Motorola v-330 which is quad-band, so it works pretty much anywhere except Japan. One reason I like T-mobile is that they will unlock your phone after 6-months of usage, which means you can pick up a local SIM card and use that during your travels rather than burning up roaming minutes. And I think T-Mobile has great customer service.

In Japan, the cheapest is to get a pre-paid cellular. However, they're getting much harder to find than in the past -- and you have to show some proof of ID. I'm not sure if they'll take foreign passports as proof.


The domain expired on 4-11-06.

I will look into T-Mobile


I have a t-mobile phone, and they have always done good by me, so i would recomenr them as well. most of my work is done in the USA and Canada though.

The only problem with T-Mobile is that the Canadian roaming rates are high - about $1/minute. It's even higher in Europe - about $2/minute.

Thanks Karen for the updated GSM URL's.
I am looking into T-Mobile, and compairing to Cingular which I currently have. I am not all that happy with Cingular.

Having a cell phone that works everywhere would be really good, I think having a tri or quad band phone that also supports 3G would get you past the Japanese problem.

This is a useful link:
It shows networks and their frequencies by country including 850MHz and 3G info missing from your other links.

Personally I have a tri-band Nokia 6310i that was originally on Orange UK. Unlocking most Nokia's yourself is pretty easy, just do a Google search on "Nokia Unlocking". I also use a dual SIM adapter to save swapping those pesky little cards over all the time and to save on roaming charges.

Lewis -

Thanks for the very useful information! I'm not familiar with any tri/quad-band + 3G phones but I'm sure they're out there. I used to have a Vodaphone Japan phone that I'm sure was 3G + some analog bands (since I used it in China), but Vodaphone refuses to unlike their phones for you (unlike T-mobile) and I haven't found any hacks to unlock it myself. All the various third party vendors I contacted also said it's unlockable, so it's sleeping in my closet.


I think the Nokia 6630 is 3G + quad band and the 6680 is 3G + tri band.

Try this link on unlocking Nokias:

Now, it's interesting that analogue bands are getting a mention. From looking at that GSM world link I posted before it seems that China is all GSM 900Mz but I'm sure that's not the whole story, there are a whole host of other, incompatible cell phone technologies like TDMA & CDMA out there.

I did once see a "analogue adapter" for a GSM Nokia phone when I was in Canada that allowed the digital phone to work on analogue bands.

I'm going to Spain next week and |I was wondering if someone has any information about the operators there. I need something not too expensive and reliable.

If you want to buy something stateside before going to Spain, I'd look into Truphone. Their rates are pretty cheap and they give you a global GSM card.

Otherwise, I'd buy a prepaid card once you land in Spain. Most tobacco shops sell them or you can look for a cell phone vendor.

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This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on April 13, 2006 8:03 AM.

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