Letter: does the Sidekick work in Europe?

by Allyson Ray | posted on 07 June 2003

A reader asks: "I hope you don't mind me asking ... .but nobody seems to be able to tell me if the new color Sidekick has international capabilites."

[See below for Editor's response]

Allyson Ray writes:

I am buying a color sidekick thru t-mobile and it should arrive next week. I will be in Europe for one month this summer and wanted to use it for sending and receiving email and also as a phone. My t-mobile salesperson says this sidekick does not have dual band capabilities and probably will not work in Europe. Do you know anything about this?

If the sidekick will not work in Europe, I need to find perhaps a rental phone that also has email capabilities, but none of the rental agencies (eg. thru T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, etc) have an email (data) phone to rent.

There must be businessmen in the US who travel to Europe and need a phone and/or email device that works internationally ... ..do you know of any such devices or plans?

Thank you for any information you may have,

Allyson Ray, New Mexico, USA


Guy Kewney responds:

The model Hank Nothhaft showed me in Cannes, France, was tri-band. That is, it works in the European and American (and anywhere else that GSM works) frequency bands.

Specifically, tri-band is 900 MHz, plus 1800 MHz (the two European frequencies) and 1900 MHz (the US frequency). In other words, the thing can work, and the one Hank demonstrated in France was working.

What I need to find out, is whether there's any "trick" to switching from one frequency to another. Most phones that are tri-band automatically detect whatever frequency is available, and switch to it. However, while that's usual, it's not inevitable, and I've asked Danger for clarification of "how do you switch frequencies, if you have to?"

What I can't tell you, is whether your ID card - the SIM or Subscriber Identity Module - in the phone will be set up to "roam" in Europe – that's something only T-Mobile can arrange. If you ask for roaming, they should just arrange it.

However beware! – roaming costs can be huge. Ask T-Mobile what the data rates will be, and the call rates. Data, especially, can be charged at obscene premium costs!

It's worth considering getting a European "SIM-only" contract for that month. Again, I don't know for sure exactly whether this is a problem for contacting Danger's server's in the US, but I believe it isn't. Hank certainly was accessing those servers when I met him in France. I believe it's just an Internet connection, and therefore doesn't care where the host computer is located. I could be wrong, of course.

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