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Mobile Phone Providers

Many international students are interested in getting a cell phone service and/or data plan to keep in touch with family and friends during their studies in Rochester. While it is possible to continue using your home service provider, you may be charged additional fees for placing calls while outside your home country. You should look at the options across different local providers to ensure you are getting a plan that meets your needs and price range!

Service Options

There are two main options for mobile phone services: service plans and ‘pay as you go’ plans.

Service Plans

Most cell phone companies offer various contract plans that allow you to use selected phone services. The company then bills you each month for those services.

These plans are often based on your credit history, so many companies require a US Social Security Number to open a new account.

Local providers include:

Pay-As-You-Go Plans

Pay-as-you-go plans allow you to purchase phone minutes before you use them. There is no contract for on-going services and no social security number is required. This is a useful option for short-term visitors.

Most major providers (as well as many retail and convenience stores) sell pay-as-you-go mobile phones and minutes. Providers include:

Provider Locations

Verizon has a location nearby in College Town, which is reachable by the Blue Line or College Town Express university shuttles.

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon stores have locations in or near the Marketplace Mall in Henrietta, which is accessible by the Green Line.

Considerations [Heading 3]

When choosing a provider, it is important to understand the plan and phone capabilities. Some questions to consider include the following:

  • How much monthly data will you have? How much do you regularly use?
  • What are the rates and procedures for making international phone calls? These vary by service provider, phone model, or service plan. Alternatively, international phone cards (with a toll-free access number) can usually be used on any cell phone, regardless of your provider. Such calls still use your minutes, but you won’t be charged at international rates.
  • What is the service coverage available across the United States?
  • Will your phone function internationally? If so, what extra charges do you have to pay to use your phone abroad? Many popular phones in the US do not work outside of North America. Most cell phones work in Canada, but there are additional fees for using your phone outside of the country, unless you purchase an international plan.
  • How long is the contract for service? What penalties are charged if you decide to cancel before the contract period is over?
  • Are there discounts available to University of Rochester students or employees?