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How Do International SIM Cards Work?

April 15, 2015

How Do International SIM Cards Work?

Fast and frequent travellers don't have the time to buy prepaid local SIM cards wherever they touch down. Even if they had the time, why go through the trouble? Find out how international SIM cards work and other things you may want to know before heading out on your latest adventure.

How do they differ from regular SIM Cards? Your regular SIM card is designed to work on a single network. The Big Three control most of the telecommunications infrastructure in Canada, so most phones are tethered to local infrastructure by default.

The premise of the product from the consumer's perspective is to save money by avoiding surprise gouging while abroad. Pre-paying $30 for a phone plan that will last for as long as you're able to use it simply outclasses making calls that collectively match your airfare.

Roaming SIM cards were designed to work with a plethora of different networks across the globe in order for you to communicate without being charged outrageously for the privilege. Carriers that provide international SIM cards make bilateral agreements with other carriers ahead of time to allow each other's customers to use telecommunications networks across the globe.

Many SIM cards designed for travelling use call-back technology that turn outbound calls into inbound ones for the phone placing the call. Carriers put that mechanism in place to automatically reduce the costs incurred by customers who bought the roaming card. This means that carriers don't have to hire people to manually intercept calls and reduce their customers' bills by hand.

The costs of the plans differ according to what you, ahem, plan to do with them. Including talking, texting, and data plans will cost more than one or two of those three options, obviously. iRoam offers a data-only card that lets you take advantage of Internetcentric apps like WhatsApp, facebook, Gmail, or Twitter. The all-inclusive card includes talking and texting for immediate and personal communication. Talking and texting is especially useful while travelling with friends and family!

Recharging SIM cards has become a popular option for travellers because they can revisit a familiar place for a quick and easy top-up. Customers don't want to go through the hassle of replacing their international SIM cards every time they travel (or going through the funds), so recharging them just makes sense. Those who make long business trips or use their vacation time all at once appreciate the convenience!

Are they safe? Yes - prepaid cards for travelling use all of the same safety features as regular SIM cards. "SIM" stands for "subscriber identification module," so identifying customers using a particular network has been possible for some time. Each card contains your security PIN, your phone number, your Location Area Identity (LAI), your mobile plan, contact list, and some of your text messages.

Would you believe that all of those details can be stored on as little as 16 kilobytes? Some contain 64 kilobytes, but SD cards and phone storage can easily store whatever older SIM cards can't.

International SIM cards work with the usual array of safety features, prepaid plans, and connectivity to multiple carriers through existing bilateral agreements. Don't get stuck paying out the nose for roaming fees approaching your plane tickets. Get in touch with us today to find out how to make travel affordable.

iRoam is formerly known as Brightroam and G3 Wireless (G3 Telecom) which currently maintains an A+ Better Business Bureau rating. iRoam is formerly known as Brightroam and G3 Wireless which has an A+ BBB rating.

Customer reviews (actual Google+ users)

"I have been a G3 wireless customer for about a year. Just renewed for another year. Excellent service and would recommend G3 Wireless to others without any reservation. Very reasonable rates - domestic and international."


"We live in Canada and travel to the US 2 or 3 times each year. After paying huge long distance & roaming charges with our cell phone provider, I discovered G3 and for the past 3 years I have been using a G3 Wireless SIM card in my phone when we travel, both in the US and internationally. I have recommended G3 to many friends, and look forward to continuing to use their services when travelling. Thank you for this service!"


"Excellent! The 3G SIM card worked just as advertised. We traveled to Bermuda and our phone worked for both incoming and outgoing called at a reduced rate compared to my Verizon Wireless account."

Read more SIM card reviews and testimonials

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