How to Use a Mobile Phone in the USA

by Kenneth W. Michael Wills

If you are traveling to the United States and plan to use a mobile phone, there are a few things you need to know. The United States carriers operate on either CDMA technology, which does not require a SIM card, or GSM technology. Two major companies in the United States offer GSM service -- T-Mobile and AT&T. You also need a tri-band phone as the United States is the only country that uses the 850MHz and 1900MHz band frequencies on the GSM networks. If your phone doesn't operate on these bands, it won't work. As long as you meet these requirements, operating a cell phone is similar to when at home.

Contact your carrier before leaving and find out if international roaming is available. If so, check the prices to make and receive calls while in the United States. Sign up for international roaming and when you arrive, you will make calls and receive a bill as normal. This way you can make calls in the United States and to back home, and friends back home can reach you without incurring long-distance charges.

Purchase a pre-paid SIM card from AT&T; or T-Mobile once you arrive in the United States if you don't have international roaming (see Resources). AT&T; will give you coverage throughout most of the country and T-Mobile will provide coverage in most larger urban settings. Simply replace your current SIM card with the new pre-paid SIM card.

Dial "1" before the area code and telephone number when calling a number in the United States on your cell phone. Phone numbers in the United States consists of a three-digit area code, along with a seven-digit number.

Dial "011" then the country code, along with the number when calling international numbers.

Type the complete number into your keypad and press the "Send" button on your phone to place the call.

About the Author

Kenneth W. Michael Wills is a writer on culture, society and business. With more than 15 years of experience in sales, public relations and written communications, Wills' passion is delighting audiences with invigorating perspectives and refreshing ideas. He has ghostwritten articles on a diverse range of topics for corporate websites and composed proposals for organizations seeking growth opportunities.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera cell phone image by Alexey Klementiev from