I’m travelling to India next month for work, and while there I plan to use a foreign SIM card with my tri-band GSM handset to make and receive calls. Apparently you can go to the local equivalent of the 7-11 there and purchase both a SIM card and prepaid airtime. It ends up being much cheaper than simply using T-Mobile’s WorldClass international service which costs $2.99/min for calls initiated or received in India.
Most GSM phone vendors in the USA sell simlocked handsets, which means that they won’t accept SIM cards from another vendor. I tried swapping cards with Ryan today and his Cingular card wouldn’t work in my phone (and my T-mobile card wouldn’t work in his).
I called T-mobile Customer Service to ask them to unlock my phone. It was a surprisingly pleasant 7-minute phone call. The rep asked me to verify name, mobile number, home number, and the last 4 digits of my SSN. She then asked me for the exact phone model number, my email address, and why I wanted to unlock my phone. She entered all of the info into a request form and told me that I’d be notified via phone or email within the next 24 hours with my unlock instructions.
So now I simply need to wait. I’ll post more once I complete the process.
[Update 28 April: see part 2]