Landline Home Phones
While most people choose to rely solely on their cell phones, many individuals and families choose to have a home telephone line installed. A landline is strongly recommended, as it may be the only way to communicate during a disaster such as a hurricane when electricity service is interrupted and cell phones cannot be charged.
When renting an apartment, telephone jacks are usually present in the kitchen and bedrooms. When purchasing a new home and telephone jacks are not present, you can easily install them or ask the telephone provider to send a professional.
To obtain a landline, you generally call the phone company. The main landline provider in Houston is AT&T. You will have to provide proof of identification and state your Texas Driver’s License number (TX DL) and Social Security number (SSN). The phone company may also run your credit report. As a newly arrived expat without a TX DL, SSN and any credit history, this can be a challenging process. In such cases, you can try several options: (1) Obtain the account through your company, (2) provide the ID information that you have and pay a deposit from your credit card (around $ 100 in some cases), (3) rent a furnished and managed apartment, which usually offers phone, Internet and cable TV included (see Accommodation – Temporary for more information).
For more information on getting a Texas driver’s license and a Social Security number, please see the sections Transport – Private – Getting a local driving license and Tax – Social Security number.
Installation of the service is performed by a professional and takes place within a few business days after placing the order and being approved. If the home is pre-wired and jacks are in place, there is no need to be at home unless you want to make sure the line works by answering it when the technician places the test call.
An installation fee of around $50 may be charged plus the first month fee as payment of the bill is due in advance. Monthly plans’ discounts depend on the length of the contract and additional service, such as caller ID, three-way calling, etc. ranging from $20 to $80. You can visit a local store or pay for all charges with a credit card over the phone if you prefer to speed up the process.
Contact AT&T for residential service:
- AT&T- 800-288-2020, http://www.att.com/
There are several major cell phone providers in the Houston area that provide full coverage.
To obtain a cell phone, you can visit the store or shop online. For a post-paid contract, cell phone companies will require local identification, such as a drivers license and social security number, to establish an account. However, pre-paid cell phones can be found at local pharmacies, phone retail stores (Verizon, Cricket, etc.) and major supermarket stores such as Wal-Mart for a higher fee and they do not require a local identification. This may be the best option when you first arrive to the city until you are settled in and have the appropriate documents.
Costs for a obtaining a cell phone include the initial charge for the cell phone unit and any sign-up fees, which range from approximately $30 – 50, as well as the charge for the monthly plans, with the first month having to be paid in advance. Monthly plans depend on discounts for length of contract and additions to the basic service, such as texting, ranging from $50 to $ 120. Most of the major providers also offer charges that you pay as you need minutes.
Mobile phone accounts are activated immediately, meaning that the user will be able to make and receive phone calls once they have a fully charged mobile phone. Some discounted plans require a 2-year contract. If you want to switch to another provider later, you can keep your number. Even if you have any problems with your phone, there are many local repair shops with experienced technicians in Houston.
Here are some of the largest cell phone companies to consider when relocating to Houston: