|Cell phone Service and Coverage in Australia
Australia is a large and relatively sparsely inhabited country, yet considering this fact, cell phone coverage and service in Australia is surprisingly good. Australia, as most of the other countries in the world, uses the GSM service in order to provide mobile phone users with cellular capability. This standard, which allows you to travel virtually seamlessly throughout the world with one phone, allows fantastic reception and offers many advanced cellphone capabilities such as internet access and GPRS. As for coverage, a basic rule of thumb is that where there are people or major access roads, there will also be cell phone coverage. In Australia, this generally means that there is very good coverage all along the country's coastal region. However, even with the relatively few interior towns and cities you will find cellular service. Those photos that you may have seen of Aboriginals using a cell phone are not mock shots!
If you are going to Australia and need to use a cellphone, either by renting one at the airport or renting or buying one through your current cellphone provider, you can rest assured that the coverage in Australia is such that your efforts won't be futile. However, while renting and roaming options are readily available, there is another option that will end up saving you a lot of money and without sacrificing cellular coverage nor service, and that is by doing what the natives do and that is to use a local Australian cell phone provider.
You can either purchase or Rent GSM Cell Phones (for use not only in Australia but for 190 countries as well) and purchase what is known as a prepaid SIM card for Australia. A SIM card or "chip" is the "brain" of the GSM phone. You simply put an Australian SIM card in a GSM phone and automatically you will have an Australian cell phone number plus coverage in AFor example, calls within Australia are about $0.35 cents per minute, calls back to the US are less than $0.20 and, best of all, incoming calls are always free. That means that if someone from the US wants to reach you on your cellphone while you are in Australia, you will not incur even on cent of a charge. Remarkable, difficult to conceptualize for most Americans, but true and worth mentioning again - you will never pay for an incoming call when using an Australian SIM card. With a prepaid SIM card, you do not need a contract, are charged only when you are placing calls, and you can easily monitor how much you spend. The most efficient thing to do is to purchase or rent a cellphone for overseas, including for use in Australia (tip: if you go overseas once a year or more, it is probably wise to invest in purchasing, and not just renting a cellphone. Also, many of the cellular phones will work in the US as well allowing you to travel worldwide with just one phone) and purchase an Australian SIM card before your departure. That way, not only will you know what your cellphone number is before going to Australia but you will also be ready to make phone calls as soon as you land.