grunt0300 asks in the Android Central forums,

ATT vs Verizon?
Just wondering which provider works best in Europe?


AT&T is a GSM carrier, and that means SIM cards. AT&T also uses mostly compatible 3G bands with the continent, so it's easier -- on the surface.

The reality is both AT&T and Verizon lock phones to their network (if you're using an unlocked handset you probably wouldn't be asking this one), meaning they won't work anywhere else. This is simple enough to fix on an AT&T phone, but you'll need to enlist a third party to help, or root and monkey with things a little bit. Verizon is a CDMA carrier, but they do offer world phones that take a SIM card for use outside the U.S. Like an AT&T phone, you'll need to network (or SIM) unlock it to use a pre-paid SIM card in Europe. 

Of course both carriers will sell you an international plan, complete with expensive rates and restrictions. Verizon will even rent you a world phone for a couple bucks a day if you need one. It's a matter of how much you're willing to spend for the convenience, and to keep your same phone number. You can walk into the carrier's shop, tell them what you need to do, and they will take care of everything for you, and for a fee.

Our recommendation is to get the SIM unlock and pick up a pre-paid card from a kiosk or machine at the airport. If you're using a travel agent, they can help, too. In this case, unless you already have a Verizon world phone, AT&T is your best bet. 

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Reader comments

From the Android Forums: AT&T vs. Verizon in Europe


I suggest T-Mobile. They are GSM, and they unlock their phones for customers in good standing. Plus they have "WiFI-calling" on many higher end handsets that allows you to make phone calls anywhere in the world through WiFi at the cost of local calls. Combined with Google Voice this saves me hundreds of Dollars on each trip to Europe.

With wifi, yeah, you can pretty much make calls form any android phone at dirt cheap prices using the internet calling.

I have a sip account at with for this reason, because you can optionally fund the account and it will call PSTN phones in any country for very low rates. Great when traveling in Canada or Mexico, or even if you need to call the EU for something.

(Combine that with an phone number and you have incoming PSTN calls as well over SIP).

Problem is, that if you wander away from WIFI, you are pretty much TSOL without some foreign data plan.

In addition to buying into AT&Ts international roaming you can call AT&T Customer Care, and ask for an unlock code for international travel. You have to meet certain conditions, which generally means your contract phone has to be at least 6 months old, and the account in good standing. Some times you have to be persistent.

This was Covered in the forums some time ago.

I also recommend T-mobile. Most of their phones has 2100MHz 3G band which is the most common band in Europe (with 900MHz as secondery in some networks).

It's called t-mobile in germany too which is owned by Deutsche Telekom, if you ask a german what voicestream is they'll have no idea what you talking bout

If you travel seriously, international phones are a must.

I travel to Germany, India and Nepal and usually carry Vodafone, Orange,Att and Tmobile SIMS.

Razr GSM
Gen Nx GSM

There is no CDMA in Europe. If you have Verizon Worthless they will rent you a Vodafone phone that works on their partner's (Vodafone) limited network. I've taken my AT&T phone all across Europe, from the UK throughout western Russia, without a problem. I didn't have it unlocked. Just signed up for AT&T's international plan, which I canceled when I returned to the U.S. The way the phone worked is that whatever country I was in it became a local phone on one of the carriers. I was able to make local calls without first dialing the country and region code. Incoming calls came in just fine. The only hitch is that if you plan on using data, ie, email, then you need to have the phone unlocked and buy a local sim card. Otherwise data usage will kill you.

Bottom line, if you plan to travel to Europe or anywhere in the world for that mater a GSM phone is the way to go. CDMA (Verizon and Sprint's standard) is not used in Europe, but mostly the US, lower parts of Canada, parts of South Korea, and the tourist traps in the Caribbean.

Some common phones on Verizon are global phones that work on CDMA And GSM networks. In the US you ride on Verizon, in the rest of the world you use a Verizon SIM card (they exist, it's a weird thought lol) and they charge you the fees listed on their site. They just introduced a 100MB for $25 Data deal that unifies the tedious data fees per country into a much cheaper and easier to understand plan.

Here are their current Global Smart Phones:
iPhone 4S
Droid 3
Droid Incredible 2
Droid 2 Global
HTC Trophy
BlackBerry Torch 9850
BlackBerry Curve 9370
BlackBerry Bold 9930

Also, Verizon will supposedly unlock their phones if you're nice and in good standing, so you can pop a foreign sim in them, but I've never tried this and have no knowledge of that bit's validity.

Other phones on Verizon are basically useless everywhere else in the world.

Nice list. I currently have a Nexus but always have a trusty VZW "World Phone" on hand for when I travel internationally. I just re-activate the phone and head on out. When I get back, I re-activate my daily driver. Very easy. You just have to remember to call VZW Global Support to add international and have them re-activate your SIM.

(edit, btw, the world phones are pretty cheap second-hand and you can find them on craigs list if you don't have one already. I had one as a daily driver for a while, so I just never tossed it)

I was prepared to jump ship from Big Red to ATT until I read this. I wanted to get the HTC One X due to the fact that the specs list the bands used in Europe. Does this mean I have to have ATT unlock it, or find someone to do it for me? Confused now!

Buy the International unlocked version of the htc one x, it will work on at&t, as well as the Canadian carries and Europe too.

ignorance is bliss for a lot of people, including comments and the author. I traveled all over Europe this past fall with a Droid Incredible 2 from Verizon, with absolutely no problems. I used a global plan from Big Red, that worked great and was fairly reasonable. Only got billed for the days on my trip on the global plan. Meanwhile my buddies with their AT&T iPhones had spotty usage at best and were birrowing my DInc2 to check voicemail and make calls. Personal experience indicates that AT&T is not your best bet.

Our recommendation is to get the SIM unlock and pick up a pre-paid card from a kiosk or machine at the airport.

Where is AT&T in this picture?

Wow! Why have things been made so difficult for Americans? I can go pretty much anywhere in the world without having to buy/rent a world phone or paying for international plan. Roaming calls are more expensive than local calls, but it works without any hassle.