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Cell phones in Ulaanbaatar

by njnerdan Online Now Jul 24, 2011 at 4:29 PM

My son is traveling to Ulaanbaatar with a group of 9 college students for 2 weeks. What is the best thing to do for a cell phone there. The don't really need phones to chat on, but would like to have them in case of emergencies and to keep in touch with each other occasionally. My first thought was to stop at the Walmart there and pick up a trakfone, but I don't think that will work. Verizon has a plan for international travel, but it is4.99 a minute. I have seen some companies that offer international phones at1.99 a minute to either buy or lease. Is there another option there in Mongolia?
Thanks!

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  • travelmad478's Profile Photo

    Re: Cell phones in Ulaanbaatar

    by travelmad478 Online Now Jul 24, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    He should buy an unlocked GSM phone (easily found online) and then get a local prepaid SIM card once he's in Mongolia. That will be the cheapest way. US carriers will charge you a fortune for making calls in Mongolia. A Verizon phone will not work at all, as Verizon's network is on the CDMA standard and Mongolia uses GSM.

    FYI, if your son is going to be staying that whole two weeks in UB itself, then a phone will be useful. If he's going to be traveling in the countryside, the phone will be about as much use as a brick. Mongolia, as I am sure you know, is very sparsely populated; cell phone service is available only in towns and cities, which are very few and far between.

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  • GrumpyDiver's Profile Photo

    Re: Cell phones in Ulaanbaatar

    by GrumpyDiver Online Now Jul 24, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    One other point to remember, a cheap GSM phone won't do; your son will need a quad-band, or so called "world phone". The GSM frequencies in the Americas are different than those used elsewhere. The cheap phones sold in Walmart and other discounters are dual-band and are not going to work in Europe, Africa, Asia, etc.

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