QA&: GSM Phone

Question: I recently purchased a GSM phone for when I travel on business and pleasure to Europe and Asia. What interests me is how do I arrange in advance the software and Sim cards for say Hong Kong, so that when I am there, I can get my e-mail as well as use the phone for calling etc?

For your reference I have the cable to connect the phone to the laptop, and the software I believe is subject to the provider I will use. Since I do not have GSM service here in the US, I do not have software for the GSM phone. Anyway, I am interested in how you go about arranging for the particulars regarding the service and software.


  1. The software to drive the phone needs to come from the phone manufacturer; in the GSM world it has nothing to do with the network you use. I suggest you check the manufacturer’s web site.
  2. A GSM phone bought in the USA may or may not be compatible with GSM networks in the rest of the world. (The USA uses a different frequency.) Unfortunately, just another time when a ‘standard’ isn’t.
  3. The best way for you to get up and running, at least initially, is to buy a ‘pay as you go’ kit in a GSM country. This will include a SIM card for the network that will plug into the phone and a card good for a number of minutes. You can get them at any phone store in most European countries; I don’t know about Hong Kong.

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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