Many companies provide these services in USA however you might find it bit costly if you will compare it with Pakistan. It’s difficult for a student to afford a cell phone because of its monthly cost. The fixed or landline are comparatively cheap. People usually greet each other with a simple “Hello” like we mostly follows in Pakistan as well.

How to get a Fixed / land line at home:

To get a fixed telephone line at home you need to contact your local telephone company and they will provide these services happily. The phone cord and the connecting process is almost same. You might need to pay the installation charges for the first time only.

Instead of getting a fixed or landline people use VoIP phone at home that works with high speed internet and almost every household have this service. A VoIP phone comes with a modem that gets connected with the internet modem, the phone set is just like a normal phone, corded or cordless and you can use it just like your fixed line. Currently there are many VoIP companies in competition so the cost is less and you get excellent services like a normal package cost around $25 per month with unlimited calling to USA and Canada and free calls to some specific countries including UK landline, Australia landline, China etc. you need to check the plan details and decide accordingly. Some famous VoIP companies are Vonage, Lingo, PhonePower & Joi Phone.

How to get a cell phone / mobile phone number:

The word cell phone is used in USA instead of mobile phone. You can get mobile phone service easily however it’s bit expensive. Initially you might not get a post paid package as it’s on credit and you do not have any credit history when you are new so you can buy prepaid phone and packages known as “Pay as you go” phone package. For most postpaid packages you must sign a contract of one or two years and the monthly fee start from $40 for almost all the cell phone service providers.

Two type of cellular technology works in USA, GSM and CDMA, with GSM phones you can use SIM card like it was in Pakistan however the other very famous technology in CDMA where the phone does not have a slot for SIM card. You need to inform the cell phone company and they activate the services on your phone.

You will feel amazed to hear that some companies charge for incoming calls as well and text and international call is hardly affordable as calling Pakistan from your cell phone might cost you more than $1 per minute. Check the packages details and select the best one for you according to the need.

GSM cell phone network companies in USA are AT&T, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular etc. Unlike in Pakistan the CDMA technology phone are very famous. The companies providing CDMA cell phone services are Verizon Wireless, Sprint, Nextel, Alltel and Virgin Mobile USA etc.

If you need cell phone for occasional or emergency use then a prepaid cell phone might save your money. The cheap solution for having a mobile phone without paying any monthly fee is having a prepaid phone. Unlike Pakistan in USA prepaid phones are not common because if you call more it cost you much higher than the post paid phones but if you rarely call someone from mobile phone then they can serve you best. Almost all above mentioned companies provide prepaid phone service however there are other cheaper phone services that only provides prepaid phones are Tracfone, iwireless, Boost Mobile, Cricket, Net10, MetroPCS, STI mobile etc. you can make comparisons of rates before buying one.

Advantages of prepaid cell phone

  1. No hidden fees

  2. No monthly bill – pay as you use

  3. No contract / no long-term commitment

  4. No credit checks needed

  5. Ideal for occasional user

Disadvantages of prepaid cell phones:

  1. The disadvantages of the prepaid phone includes

  2. More expensive minute rates

  3. You cannot accept collect call

  4. Balance expires after certain period of time.

Calling numbers from USA:

Local number: Calling a local number is easy. A USA number consists of total 10 digits with first 3 digit as area code like 540-xxx-xxxx, here 540 is area or local code of Roanoke VA, and people calling from a 540 number might not need to dial 540 before the number however you can dial the whole number as well. Before dialing a cell phone number you will not add any zero like we use to do in Pakistan e.g. dial 0300-xxx-xxxx instead of 300-xxx-xxxx

International number: While calling an international number from Pakistan we add 00 or + e.g. For calling USA we dial 001-44-192-xxx-xxxx. In USA if you want to call any international number you will add 011, if you would like to call a Pakistani number it will be like this, 011-92-300-xxx-xxxx you will dial 011 instead of 001. Many people think they cannot dial an international number when they try to call their families from USA airport because they dial a number with 001. People usually help each other and if we ask from someone else however it’s always good to know in advance.

Toll Free numbers: Mostly toll free numbers in USA starts with 800 like in Pakistan we use to dial 0800-xxx-xxxx in Pakistan. In USA we do not need to dial “0” before the 800 we will simply dial 800 and remaining number.

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Using voice messaging service / answering machine:

Almost all service providers in Pakistan provides voice mail / voice call services however few people avail it due to the fact that the other person will be charged. In USA the charging scenario is the same but you must have your voice mail active if you are using any phone, either a fixed line or a mobile because failing to do so may miss many of your important calls. Mostly free this is a very useful service and people really get amazed when they come to know that we are not using this service.

Public booths / phone cards:

Not very common but still you will mostly find them on airports, hotels, railway stations or pedestrians areas in cities. You will mostly need at least 50 cents (Two Quarters) to call a local number. Landing first time, you might need to change some money in quarters to call from the booth. Charges for calling Pakistan may vary but they are usually $1.5 to $2 per minute from such phones.

Calls made from hotels might be very expensive; it can even cost you around $20 for making a single international call so always inquire rates before making an international call.

How to contact Police in emergency situations:

In emergency situations there is only one number 911. You just need to dial 911 and the police will be there. Unlike Pakistani police, police in USA are respected and trusted because they try their best to serve other people. They are professional and helping however I have heard that in big cities people does not respect them much. The police will never accept bribe. If you have done something wrong you are in their hands whether it’s a traffic crime, street crime or any accident.

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Internet – How to get internet access:

Dial-up, cable, DSL these are the main sources of internet. Mainly two internet services are widely used in USA, Verizon (DSL) and Comcast (Cable). These companies ask you to sign a contract on yearly basis and provide you with a fix monthly bill. You will need to buy the installation equipment for the first time however sometime in deals you might get it for free. The high speed cable connection we are currently using cost around $60 per month but with a deal we are paying $25 per month only for one year. The internet speed we are getting for this price is 6Mbps. You will get cheaper internet plans for DSL (Verizon) with lower internet speed. I have never seen any person using a Dial-up in USA however in very small cities or town people use it.

5 thoughts on “Telephone & Internet in USA

  1. James C Reply


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  2. Asif Reply

    Hi ,
    I am planning to visit usa on visit visa , please guide me that can i buy prepaid cell phone and service at airport while i am on a visit only ?


    • admin Post authorReply

      You can use your cell phone and buy a SIM card at airport. If your phone take micro sim card do let the person know so he gives you the sim accordingly. There are only two networks that provides sim card connection T-Mobile and AT&T however the most famous cell phone company is Verizon (that is sim free phone works on frequency) your phone will not work with Verizon, sprint and any other cellular company however you can purchase the phone at low cost. They sometimes offers bundle like for $50 cell phone with some free minutes to call.
      If you are unable to find a Sim then you can use the phone booths too. It take 2 quarter coins and you can make call. If you don’t have coins go to any shop at airport and they will provide you the change and then you can make the call. Don’t hesitate to ask anything to anyone at airport if you have any problem because Americans are mostly very polite and helpful.

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