Saturday, February 8, 2014

Russia: Update: If You're Going to the Olympic Games in Sochi, Please Consider the Following...

COMMENT: I strongly urge anyone traveling to the Olympic Games in Sochi to leave their smart-phones and other electronic devices at HOME and purchase a UNLOCKED, QUAD-BAND GSM mobile phone for the trip, such a phone can be used almost anywhere abroad.

Bottom-line: Travel to Russia for Americans can be challenging. So, please read the below link posted earlier today:

Now, if you are traveling to Russia for Sochi, the reason I urge you to leave HOME all devices that are also connected to corporate intranets, is that cyber-crime by the Russian government is formidable!

Formidable cyber-crime by the Russian government is one reason I urge you to purchase a new, UNLOCKED, QUAD-BAND GSM mobile phone is that you'll be able to sleep at night knowing that the proprietary information that has been entrusted to you is safe.

Please consider the following:

First of all, if you have a mobile phone that is serviced through a wireless provider, you have what is referred to as a LOCKED mobile phone. PLEASE DON'T TAKE THIS PHONE TO RUSSIA (OR CHINA FOR THAT MATTER).

Personally, I don't like LOCKED mobile phones simply because using them abroad, particularly in countries where they function perfectly well, are VERY costly (e.g., roughly US$3-5 per minute).

UNLOCKED quad-band GSM phones will operate in almost any country, although I urge you to verify this before you purchase any UNLOCKED, QUAD-BAND GSM phone.

If you purchased an UNLOCKED GSM/HSDPA quad-band phone off the Internet like I did (Samsung Galaxy ACE S5830), you should be able to operate very inexpensively in most countries.

NOTE: I have no financial relationship with Samsung; I just happen to really like the Galaxy ACE S5830.

There are four different frequencies of GSM service around the world: 850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, and 1900MHz. Most cheap phones are single or dual band, meaning they only work on one or two of those frequencies so they will only work in one or two regions of the world.

Most high-end phones are quad-band meaning they work on all  four frequencies. You want to unlock a Quad-Band phone because that will work with ALL carriers and in ALL countries around the world!

The definition of a LOCKED cell phone is a cell phone that is programmed to only work with one GSM carrier. 

Almost all wireless carriers such as Cingular, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, VoiceSteam, etc. began a marketing ploy years ago to entice customers to buy their service by paying for most, or all, of the cost of a new cell phone (instead of the customer having to buy it) providing the customer would commit to a one-or-two year contract to use their wireless service.

That's one reason why the US has one of the most inflexible mobile phone systems in the world. 

The US wireless carriers do not want that expensive phone to be able to be used for free at a later time by the customer with a different carrier, so they got the cell phone manufactures to program the phones to be locked so they only work with their service and no others. 

The good news is you can unlock any GSM phone relatively easily. Most are easy to unlock just by typing in a code, and some others just take a few extra button presses.

You know why 95% of all carriers lock their phones. If your mobile has been purchased or used by one of the wireless carriers, assume it is LOCKED. 

Most mobile phones sold in the US are locked, although, thankfully, the Internet has countless companies that sell unlocked, quad-band GSM phones.

You can find hundreds of companies that unlock cell phones on eBay and on the internet. The local "mom-and-pop" shops can usually unlock most phones, but charge you far more than companies that offer services to "unlock a locked mobile phone."

Most internet-based companies are able to unlock most phones remotely. All you have to do is send them the IMEI serial number on back of your phone (all phones have one, it's right above the bar code) and they will send you a code to unlock the cell phone…for a fee, of course.

Some companies ask you to send them your phone. Each model is different, so you will have to search a little to find the best deal for someone to unlock your particular phone model. These unlock codes are usually $4.00 to over $100.00 depending on the model of the phone you have and which company you choose to buy the unlock code from, so do shop around.

The only thing you have to be careful about is typing in a wrong code too many times. 

All GSM locked phones only allow five tries total. The fifth wrong access code locks the phone completely so it won't turn on or work at all, and you have to send it back to the factory to have them reset it which can take weeks. 


1. Buy an unlocked, quad-band GSM phone, as it will work on all four GSM frequencies.

2. If you TAKE your locked, quad-band GSM phone to Russia you will never know whether your data has been hacked! This applies to China as well!

3. If you currently have a LOCKED GSM quad-band phone you like, keep it and go to dealers who can "unlock LOCKED access codes."

4. If you don't have a GSM quad-band phone, use it at home and purchase an unlocked, quad-band GSM phone with all the bells and whistles you need for use abroad.