Even when you go abroad, you're never out of touch Overseas calls: Maryland company will rent you a pocket telephone set for the European cellular network frequency.

March 17, 1996|By Barbara Shea | Barbara Shea,NEWSDAY

You'd love a romantic Paris getaway and Grandma has agreed to watch the kids if you swear you'll be reachable every second you're away. Or maybe you'd like to catch the annual widget-makers convention in Frankfurt, Germany, but have several office projects due that week. What to do?

Simple. Just pack your cellular phone, right?

Wrong: American cell phones don't work in Europe. But if you need to stay in touch with family or colleagues back home, there are two basic ways to bridge the gap.

First you have to decide who might be calling you abroad. Will it be scores of business contacts who can't be easily informed of a temporary new phone number? Or just Grandma?

If only one or two people need to reach you, you can rent a European cell phone and give them the phone number before you leave. A Maryland company called World Cell will send to you by overnight courier a pocket phone that's set for the European cellular network frequency. The fee is $75 for the first week and $50 for each subsequent week, plus air time (international calls are $1 a minute plus the cost of the call; local and incoming calls are $1.50 a minute). Voice mail is standard. Fax-data connections are available, and this summer there should also be fax-forwarding, which will allow you to retrieve a fax at your hotel or any other convenient location, according to Frank Ruffing, director of sales at the Bethesda-based company. Call (800) 822-9397.

A British company called Global Cellular Rental provides a similar service, including voice mail (Britain only) and call-forwarding. Rates are set in British pounds at about $15 daily, $100 weekly, plus air time (required minimum of about $75). Incoming calls are free in Britain. Other rates vary throughout Europe, with the highest peak overseas rate $4 to $5 a minute. Call (800) 999-3636 to request faxed information, (800) 699-6861 if you have questions.

If your days tend to be filled with calls from far-flung clients, it probably would be easier to keep your normal U.S. cell-phone number when you travel. You can do that through AT&T Wireless Services' CellCard, which can extend the reach of a U.S. number to 35 other countries. You carry the card with you, insert it into a rented European cell phone and voila no one who calls you will even know you're out of the country. CellCard users pay an annual $49.99 charge, then $2.49 a minute for outgoing calls (including long distance) and $2.49 plus long distance for incoming calls. Charges are included on your regular cell-phone bill. You still need to rent a phone, of course. AT&T works with a British phone-rental company called Cellhire, which charges $99 for two weeks (including insurance and delivery to your home or office) and $25 for each additional week. Call (800) 335-4685 for information on AT&T's CellCard, (800) 561-0610 for details about Cellhire phone rentals.

Pub Date: 3/17/96

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