|Cell Phone Coverage in Switzerland
In general, cellular coverage in Switzerland is exceptional. You will find that even in remote villages or on mountaintops there is usually cell phone coverage. Not only is the coverage exceptional, but so is the quality. In Switzerland, as in most countries in the world, the cellphone standard used is the GSM standard (Global System for Mobile Communications). Unlike the United States, the vast majority of overseas countries has adopted this system in order to provide seamless cell phone service from country to country. The GSM standard has been the standard of choice due to its high digital quality and ability to add different platforms to it, such as GPRS and 3GSM. In fact, only recently have cell phone service providers begun to seriously adopt the GSM standard in the US. Does this mean that you can use your US or Canadian cell phone overseas? Most likely, the answer is no. While the majority of overseas providers use either the 900 and/or the 1800 Mhz network for cellular communication, North American providers use the 1900 Mhz network. However, these providers who do happen to use the GSM network also offer cellular phones that will work on all of the networks. In fact, these phones, known as tri-band cell phones, are becoming more and more prevalent. If your current cell phone does not have this capability, you will need to either rent or purchase a cellphone that will work on the overseas networks. Your current cellular provider can give you what is known as a SIM card, which is the brain of the phone, that you can easily slip into the GSM phone. This way, you will be able to retain your current phone number in the US even while overseas. If you don't currently use a cell phone here, you can also rent one either at the airport prior to your departure or once you land in Switzerland. While both of these options are readily available, they are definitely not the least expensive approach to having cell phone communication whilst in Switzerland - or any other overseas destination for that matter. By far, the least expensive solution is to obtain a prepaid Swiss SIM card and to either rent or purchase a GSM cell phone for the US and/or overseas (in other words, a cellphone that uses 900/1800 Mhz at the very least or a triband - 900/1800/1900 Mhz if you would like to use the phone in North America as well). Having a Swiss SIM card will allow you to take advantage of the local rates which, not only are a fraction of those found through traditional channels as explained above but, get this, will also allow you to receive unlimited free incoming calls from anywhere in the world! GSM phones are not expensive and can be purchased for as little as $100 and a Swiss SIM card is under $100 as well.
Please note however that if you don't have a Swiss residence, you are theoretically not allowed to purchase a Swiss SIM card in Switzerland. However, you can purchase a SIM card for Switzerland outside of the country. It is advantageous to purchase a Swiss SIM card regardless prior to your trip for a couple of reasons. First, you will have the phone number before your trip so that you can give it to associates and family and secondly, you will be ready to go as soon as you step off the plane.