I took a brief break from my conference today and went into Winchester for two purposes: first, to have a decent lunch (at which I was partially successful), and second, to buy a mobile phone for use in the UK. It’s gotten to be very difficult to find a pay phone here, and I’m going to be travelling this weekend to meet people, and it would be very useful to verify directions en route (I miss Microsoft Streets and Trips!), so I convinced myself I needed my own phone.
Fortunately, the UK mobile phone companies have gotten quite competitive, and they now offer prepaid phones at a cheap price (as low as GBP 40 (about $60)), and they don’t require buying much talk time in advance, and it doesn’t expire, so this seemed like a fairly reasonable experiment to try. Unfortunately, the only company which allows use of their prepaid phones elsewhere in Europe has bad coverage in some of the UK areas I would be in, so I chose an Orange phone. I can hope that they’ll offer international service before I really need it — my trip to Germany next week will be so well-managed by IBM that I’ll hardly have the opportunity to realize I’m in a different country (on a similar trip to Canada three years ago, I brought $20 Canadian with me and never spent a penny of it until I decided I wanted to buy a souvenir at the airport while waiting for my flight home).
I haven’t actually made any calls on the phone yet, but that’s a small detail, isn’t it?