Landline / Home Phone Services
Traditional landlines phones are decreasing slowly in the US. The two main reasons are the rise of wireless phones and cable telephony. Moreover as an expatriate, the home phone services offered by the main providers are not the most useful for you as it does not systematically include international calls, but mainly local and domestic calls. Most providers offer bundles (packages including cable TV and Internet) that include phone lines. Check the following sections for more information about these options.
To set up a landline, a technician will need to come to your place to make the installation. It can take from 2 to 4 hours. You will notice that it is possible to set up your landline online – for most people. As an expatriate, however, you have no credit history in the country. Therefore, it might be impossible for you to order online. Contact the provider you have selected and they may require you to make a deposit to insure your financial health. You can do a deposit through the numerous currency exchange stores available in the city. Another option is to visit a store of your prospective provider and explain your situation. We advise to take with you your ID, passport with visa, work contract and any other documents you may think useful. Obviously, you need to have a local bank account (see the banking section).
The main providers for landlines are:
Comcast is the leader in the Chicago area. The main landline offer from Comcast is “Comcast Digital Voice”. It includes unlimited nationwide calling, 12 calling features, and voice mail from $19.99 a month. Order online available.
RCN has several international calling plans: the first one is Global Saver Calling Plan (Global Saver 250 minutes for $9.95 per month; Global Saver 500 minutes for $19.95 per month); the second is dedicated to international calls in Latin America for $2.95 per month. Order online available.
AT&T have four home phone services ranging from $11 to $40 per month but none of them have international calls included, only domestic calls. Order online available.
Wireless / Mobile Phone
You will find below the main providers and their offers for prepaid and postpaid Plans.
Upon arrival it is advisable to start off with a prepaid plans as you will need to make calls to your home country but also to set appointments for house hunting and other urgent matters required to get established. The fastest way to get a mobile plan in place is to visit a store of one of the providers listed in the chart below. Once you have settled in, you will have more time to choose a postpaid plan.
For those with a credit history, it is possible to order a postpaid plan online. As an expatriate, however, that may not be the case. It is recommended that you visit a store of your prospective provider and explain your situation. Take with you your ID, passport with visa, contract of work and any other documents you may think useful. Usually, it works well and you can get a postpaid plan within one hour. Again, you will need to have opened a local bank account (see the banking section).
|Providers||Prepaid Plans Names and details||Postpaid Plans names and details|
|AT&T||AT&T No-Contract GoPhone Pick Your Plan for Various Prices: the monthly prices are $29.99, $39.99, $49.99 or $69.99. This does not require an annual service contract, credit check or deposit. You do pay in advance once per month.
AT&T No-Contract GoPhone Pay as You Go: it allows you to pay as you go without a plan and without a service contract. Rates are between 10 cents per minute or 25 cents per minute.
|AT&T Nation plans for $39.99, $59.99, $79.99 or $99.99: Watch out, data and text messaging are not included.
AT&T Unity plans for $59.99 or $79.99: Unity minutes grant you unlimited calls to and from AT&T wireless, home and business customers.
AT&T senior plan for $29.99: watch out, you pay each additional minute over the 200-minute limit.
AT&T FamilyTalk Nation plans for various prices: monthly prices going from $60 to $200. Watch out, data and messaging are not included.
AT&T FamilyTalk Unity plans for various prices: monthly prices going from $60 to $200 with no additional minutes.
|T-Mobile||T-Mobile Pay By the Day
Price: $1 per day on days used plus 10 cents per minute for domestic calls (except from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and to any T-Mobile number)
T-Mobile Pay as You Go allows you to pay for various refill amounts that range from $10 to $100 per month:
$10 for 30 minutes
$25 for 130 minutes
$50 for 400 minutes
$100 for 1,000 minutes
|T-Mobile individual myFaves plans range from $39.99, $49.99, $59.99, $69.99, $109.99 and $139.99 per month.
T-Mobile individual cell phone plans range from $29.99, $39.99, $49.99, $59.99 and $99.99 per month.
T-Mobile family myFaves plans range from $69.99, $79.99, $89.99, $119.99 and $149.99 per month.
T-Mobile FamilyTime cell phone plans range from $59.99, $69.99, $99.99, $129.99 and $149.98 per month.
|Verizon Wireless||Select a plan between: Unlimited Talk, Plus, Core or Basic; and refill your phone with a selected amount: $15-$29.99 expires in 30 days, $30-$74.99 expires in 90 days, $75-$99.99 expires in 180 days, $100 or more expires in one year.||Individual plans (voice only): you have to choose between Basic, Select, Connect and Premium plan that range from $40 to $80.
Family share plans (voice only): you have to choose between Basic, Select, Connect and Premium plan that range from $70 to $140 with two lines for each of them.
Voice and E-mails plans ranging from $50 to $100 monthly.
|US Cellular||Monthly Plans of $45, $60 or $80.
Pay-as-you-go Plans: there is an activation fee of $50.
|Wide area plans ranging from $40 to $150 monthly.
National plans ranging from $40 to $100 monthly.
Family plans ranging from $60 to $200 monthly
VoIP: Voice over Internet Protocol
Before going with a triple play, think about your real communication needs and expectations. As expatriates, you mainly need to keep in touch with your family in your home country and friends living all over the world. The easiest and cheapest may be to call them through your broadband internet access with a new technology named Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). The main providers are:
To compare the VoIP services in the US, check the following website: http://www.nextadvisor.com/voip_services/compare.php