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My 20 yr old daughter will be in Tanzania for five months

Colorado Springs...
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My 20 yr old daughter will be in Tanzania for five months

My daughter is studying in Tanzania from September to January and I'm looking for best ways , and inexpensive ways, to communicate to her while she's there and I'm in the United States. Are you able to purchase local cell phones in Arusha? Please share ideas for communication with my 20 yr old who will be so far from home. Thanks!

melbourne
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1. Re: My 20 yr old daughter will be in Tanzania for five months

If she has a computer I would try to use skype. My wife talks to her family this way almost daily not to mention her friends almost hourly.. slight exageration maybe..but it is the best and cheapest way.

Edited: 12:39 am, August 07, 2013
New York
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2. Re: My 20 yr old daughter will be in Tanzania for five months

I was just in Tz and purchased a phone to use there for about 30000 t.Shillings (about 20 usd). Prepaid phone cards through Vodafone are pretty reasonable for calls home.

Bristol
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3. Re: My 20 yr old daughter will be in Tanzania for five months

Yes Internet is available in towns so email or Skype are both easy and cheap. I think we bought TSH 20,000 of time and never used it all in 5 weeks though we sent loads of emails and spent time on the Internet. We were mainly in Moshi and had no communication problems. We borrowed a phone from our Tanzanian friends. It was cheap and easy to top this up. You just buy "scratch cards" for TSH 1000, 2000, or 5000 what ever suits you. So very cheap. We only made few international phone calls but used it a lot for local calls and we only topped it up a couple of times in 5 weeks.

Findlay, Ohio
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4. Re: My 20 yr old daughter will be in Tanzania for five months

I have purchased several phones there, the last one I bought I got at the Vodacom store in Arusha (near to the Clock Tower Roudabout, or in Dar on Ohio Street) for about $20. You probably cannot use a phone from here, we use a different system and most won't work there. As mentioned above, you don't get under a plan as here, but rather you purchase scratch off cards for minutes. If she is bringing her laptop with her you can also get a dongle to plug into the laptop's port to hook up to the Internet there, and you get scratch off cards also for bandwidth for that.

If you are going to be calling her I wouldn't advise just calling from your phone with the phone company's long distance service, that could get very expensive. You might want to consider using something like a calling card which can be purchased from www..mobilecaller.com where you can buy time on your credit card, and this is much less costly.

If she has her laptop there have her put Skype on both that and your home computer. This will allow you to communicate (and view each other) for free. As Noexpert mentions, this is very useful and I use it from time to time to talk to people there who are also set up on skype.

Littleton, Colorado
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5. Re: My 20 yr old daughter will be in Tanzania for five months

Skype is the best. There is also a service at jajah.com that allows you to call for free if both are registered on Jajah. It uses phones and is a reliable service.

Arusha, Tanzania
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6. Re: My 20 yr old daughter will be in Tanzania for five months

If she is able to bring a smartphone (and if you have one as well), she can download apps like Whatsapp or Viber for you to both stay connected through free SMS (as long as she signs up for Internet via the phone provider. Airtel has impressive Internet bundle for phones that is reasonably priced) and even calls (through Viber- which, surprisingly is clearer than Skype on my phone).

Findlay, Ohio
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7. Re: My 20 yr old daughter will be in Tanzania for five months

In the US (I assume that Colorado Sprigs is in Colorado USA) the major carriers such as Sprint, AllTel, and Verizon networks use what is called CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology, while AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) technology. GSM and CDMA is the protocol which the system uses to transmit the signals. Tanzania also uses GMS technology. GSM phones will have a SIM card (subscriber identification module) within the phone. A SIM card is a removable plastic card which has a circuit embedded on it.

So what does this mean for you. If you are on one of the US's major carriers which use CDMA technology and you have a smart phone, you cannot use it there so leave it at home. If however you are on AT&T or T-Mobile and have a smart phone then you can take this but exchange the SIM card after you get there for a Tanzania Carrier SIM Card, and put that SIM in your phone.

However it will not work unless you have "unlocked" the phone before leaving the country. This "unlocking" is a code that the vendor can turn on and off which keeps their phones in the country, thus, billable. If it is not unlocked it will not work in a foreign country. There are rules which the carrier will use to "unlock" your phone, such as you must have been a subscriber for a certain amount of time before they will unlock the phone.

Chicago
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8. Re: My 20 yr old daughter will be in Tanzania for five months

And some like AT&T won't do it at all.

Findlay, Ohio
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9. Re: My 20 yr old daughter will be in Tanzania for five months

I would always advise that for ~$20 you can easily pick up a Nokia phone there at the Vodacom or other carrier shop in Arusha or Dar and be assured that you will have good communications without any difficulty. When you are finished and don't think you will be back (or be in Europe for that matter) give the phone to someone there as a tip, like your safari driver. They can always use another phone as they put different SIM cards in them and use them for different things, like some are cheaper for SMS messaging and some will have different coverage.

Arusha, Tanzania
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10. Re: My 20 yr old daughter will be in Tanzania for five months

I have a smart phone (Droid Global) on the Verizon network from home (USA). My 2 year contract had ended, so prior to my arrival in TZ I contacted Verizon to get instructions as to how to unlock my phone, which I did upon arrival. I then purchased an internet bundle for it here in TZ and prepaid phone credits (I use Vodacom).On previous trips to TZ, I have also used cheap local phones, but how much you spend depends on whether you want access to the internet, or just text messaging and calls.

When in the US and I wanted to text or call TZ friends, first I used Rebtel, You set up an account from your US phone number, add the local TZ number for the person you want to communicate with, feed money into your account, and then you can call or text TZ at very low rates. You can set up your account such that the person in TZ can text you back and the cost is deducted from your account and it costs them nothing. I used Rebtel for about 9 months before I learned of Viber and WhatsApp, mentioned above.

With Viber, you can even call for free. The phone in TZ must be able to download the app for either Viber or WhatsApp, and from my experience, not all phones are capable of this> so if you want to use either of these, you both must figure out if these apps can be downloaded to the phones.