Below is information and a list of resources that you may utilize to assist you in telephone or cell phone services while you are in the U.S. We do not specifically recommend any but provide this list as a resource for Babson College students. It is your responsibility to research these resources and determine suitability for your needs. Please note that information on this handout is subject to change.
On-Campus: IT Service Center, Telephone Services Provides information on services Babson offers and information for making international phone calls from campus phones and mobile phones from the U.S.
Off-Campus: If you are moving into a house or apartment, you may choose to have telephone service in your home, although it is becoming more popular to only use cellular service. There are a number of telephone companies providing local service.
There are four levels of home telephone service:
- local (in and around your city)
- regional toll (outside your local area code but which are not considered long distance)
- long distance (outside the regional calling area but inside the U.S.)
- international (to other countries)
Whichever plan you get, be sure to order touchtone service. Also, you do not have to sign up for long distance service. Prepaid phone cards or cell phones can be used for long distance phone calls.
Most telephone service providers offer international calling plans that give you a discount on calls made outside the U.S. The details of these plans differ and often change however there is usually a monthly fee.
When choosing your telephone service, you can add on special features. Each additional service costs extra money each month.
Here are some examples:
- Call waiting: If someone is trying to call you when you are talking on the phone, you can put the first caller “on hold” while you talk to the second.
- Call forwarding: Allows you to have your calls automatically ring at a different telephone or cell phone number whenever you like.
- Three-way calling: Allows you to add a third person to your call.
- Caller ID: Displays the name and telephone number of the person calling you (you must buy a telephone or display screen that supports this feature).
- Home Voice Mail: An internal voice mail answering service. You may be able to create different mailboxes for different users.
You must buy your own telephone. You can purchase one at nearly any store, including drug stores. Some telephones have built in answering machines, speakerphone options, and/or caller ID screens. There will be many options ranging from plain-corded telephones (about $10) to cordless and high-tech telephones. At minimum, you need a push-button telephone with a “tone” option.
Telephone Service Providers
Research companies online or by calling to figure out which service provider and service plan fits your needs.
- ATT www.att.com 800-222-0300
- RCN www.rcn.com 800-746-4726
- Sprint www.sprint.com 800-877-4646
- Verizon www.verizon.com 800-870-9999
- Vonage www.vonage.com 800-218-6919
PAETEC and Calling Cards
Whether you live on or off-campus, you can opt to receive long distance/international service through PAETEC, which works like a calling card. When you sign up for this service on-line through the ITSD website you will receive your own personal PBN #. This number allows you access to a voice mail box, where people can leave you messages, and allows you to make long-distance or international calls from any phone, either on or off-campus. You can choose your payment method (credit card, check, etc.) and will be billed monthly for the calls you make. If you are interested in this service, you should contact ITSD (x4423) once you’ve settled in.
You may opt to use one of the many pre-paid international phone cards, which can be purchased at many different locations including grocery stores, drug stores, or on-line. Make sure you compare rates before you buy one of these cards. You may want to check if there is any “connection fee” just to connect. The site below offers phone cards with no hidden charges: http://www.internationalstudent.com/phone-cards/
Cell (Mobile, Wireless) Phone Service
Cell phones in the U.S. work on different frequencies than in most other parts of the world; therefore, even if you have a cell phone in your home country, it may not work here.
Tri-Band Phones & SIM Cards
If you have a cell phone that is a tri-band phone (a GSM phone that supports three of the four major GSM frequency bands, which work in most parts of the world) you will need to buy a new SIM card from a U.S. cellular company. A SIM card is a removable card that stores a user’s service information as well as personal contacts. It allows users to change phones by simply removing the SIM card from one cell phone and replacing it with another.
Contract Plans and Prepaid (To-Go) Plans
All phone companies in the U.S. offer Contract Plans – this means, you have to sign a contract with the company in which you state that you will be using their service for a pre-determined length (usually two years), paying a monthly fee plus the charges for the services according to your rate-plan. However, this option can be difficult for newly arrived foreign citizens. Companies may require that you have at least a year of credit history on your credit card, which must be obtained in the United States, and a Social Security number. Without one of these, you may be required to pay a one-time fee, between $300-$600 (depending on the company), which will be returned to you upon completion of the contract.
A better option may be to apply for a Prepaid Plan, which is offered by most major companies and is also available through electronic retail stores (Best Buy, Radio Shack). A Prepaid Plan means you have to pay a fee (according to your rate-plan) a month in advance. You can terminate the service any time you like. However, you still need at least a debit/ATM card to be able to use this service. The company charges your card automatically, on the same date every month, unless you call to terminate your service. No subscription fee is required; you only pay the sum of your rate-plan.
Babson’s ITSD has just recently partnered with CellularLD™ to provide a new service which allows you to call internationally from your cell phone. To learn more about this option, follow the link on ITSD’s website.
If you want to buy a new cell phone, buying one along with a service plan directly from the company whose service you will use can get you a huge discount. Some phones are offered only together with the service, making them significantly cheaper than their original price.
Below is a list of the major cell phone companies and their nearest store listings. Research the companies through their websites or in person before you make a decision.
Web site: www.wireless.att.com/
Prepaid Plan Information: www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/go-phones/index.jsp
88 Needham Street, Newton, MA 02461
1245 Worcester Street, Natick, MA 01760
475 Winter Street, Waltham, MA 02451
Web site: www.sprint.com
No prepaid plans
85 Worcester Road, Framingham, MA 01701
Web site: www.t-mobile.com
Prepaid Plan Information: www.t-mobile.com/shop/plans/
244 Needham Street, Newton, MA 02464
462 Washington Street, Brighton, MA 02135
Web site: www.verizonwireless.com
Prepaid Plan Information: www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/store/controller?item=prepayItem&action=viewPrepayOverview
13 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
1245 Worcester Street, Natick, MA 01760
745 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116
Provides wireless phone services with unlimited calling periods and low international rate. A Social Security number or long-term contract is not required. www.universitymobile.com
A reputable magazine and online resource regarding expert testing of products, including phone services in the United States. www.consumerreports.org
10-10 Phone Number
You do not need to sign up for a plan, and the charge will be included in your regular phone bill. Visit www.1010phonerates.com for more information.
With the free download from www.skype.com, you can talk to your family or friends who are also online with no charge using your computer. You will need to install SKYPE, and set up a microphone and headsets/speakers. You can also call from your computer to regular phones (including international calls) with some fees. Other services include free online chat and free video calls (if you have a webcam).
Instant Messenger Applications
You can talk to people using instant text messages by installing instant messenger applications provided by AOL, MSN, ICQ, or Yahoo. Go to their website to download the free messengers: www.aim.com, www.icq.com, www.webmessenger.msn.com, www.messenger.yahoo.com
How Do I Dial Phone Numbers that Include Alphabet Letters?
Many business toll-free numbers (1-800 or 1-866-xxxxxxx) use alphabet letters as their phone numbers. The dial keypads in the US have letters assigned to each number as below. For example, CALL is dialed as 2-2-5-5. ABC dial 2 DEF dial 3 GHI dial 4 JKL dial 5 MNO dial 6 PQRS dial 7 TUV dial 8 WXYZ dial 9
On Campus: All rooms on-campus have free wireless internet access, which you can connect to from your laptop. You can also access the internet from any one of the many computers on-campus. As a full time Babson student, you will have your own Babson email account, with a username and password, which allows you access to the Babson Portal.
Off Campus: Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi). If you have a notebook computer that is Wi-Fi enabled, you can receive a wireless signal in Wi-Fi Hot Spots, public places that provide Wi-Fi Service. Hot Spots are relatively new in the U.S. and can be found in some hotels, airports, and coffee shops. Public Wi-Fi is considered a “high speed” internet connection. To find a Wi-Fi zone near you, visit www.wifizone.org/zoneFinder.asp. To use public Wi-Fi, Hot Spot operators may expect you to manually configure your Wi-Fi cards with little or no technical support. So you do not have to reconfigure each time you use a Hot Spot, some ISPs offer special Wi-Fi plans that will let you use public Wi-Fi signals automatically.
Internet Service Providers
Setting up Telephone/Internet/Cable
You may consider a telephone set up at your apartment, though some people choose to use only their cell phone. There are many different plans available by different cable or phone companies. You can choose the combination of local phone, international phone, internet cable connection and cable TV services. Contact providers and choose a plan that fits your needs and compare rates. Also check their website for services provided and special offers.
There are a number of telephone companies providing local phone services in the Boston area (see “Utilities” section for listing).