Mobile Phones & Providers
Firstly, if you are planning to use your home smartphone in the USA, check if it is unlocked. Some network providers lock customers’ phones so they will not work with other networks. If you are not sure, try inserting a SIM card from another network – if it doesn’t work this means it is locked. If your phone is locked, you may be able to contact your mobile network provider and request that they unlock the phone. Some companies might charge a fee for this, and some may not permit it.
If you are not able to unlock your phone, you will need to buy an unlocked phone before getting a US SIM card. There are many options in the USA for purchasing a new or used unlocked phone without a contract (also called a “plan”). If you purchase an unlocked phone, you can purchase a SIM-only contract from a network provider. You can also get a phone through a contract, which may involve a lower (or no) up-front cost for the phone itself, but higher monthly payments over a longer period.
If you want to save yourself a hassle when you arrive in the USA, you can also use a service like CampusSIMS, which offers a variety of contract-free plans and can provide customers with a SIM card and a US phone number (if needed) before arrival in the USA. CampusSIMs partners with Mint Mobile, which offers contract-free plans starting at $15 per month.
You may find yourself needing to set up your own internet connection after moving into a new house or apartment.
If you would like to support a local company, the ISP Philly Wisper is based in Philadelphia and is a strong advocate for net neutrality
and data privacy.
Before committing to an ISP, it is good to consider your typical usage patterns to help determine which internet speed you will need.
Lower internet speeds cost less per month, but you may need faster internet if you have regular online classes or use lots of different
smart devices at the same time.