Friday, April 6, 2007

Cheap Cell Phones


I studied a bit upstairs and then wandered down and asked the doorman where I might buy a cell phone. Of course, this whole studying questions bit is only halfway useful, as although he understand what I said, I had no clue what he was telling me. More gesturing and questions ensued and I finally got it through my head that he was pointing me towards the Starbucks traffic circle and a store named "Wong".

From what I can gather "Wong" is the Fred Meyer of Peru, except not quite as big. They seemed to sell just about everything. I found a booth for Claro the big local wireless carrier and proceeded to torture the poor woman trying to ask for a prepaid sim card. She spoke some english though so it wasn't too bad. Sadly, my Sidekick is locked, so the sim card didn't work and I had to buy a phone.

The plans here are crazy. Most of the plans are prepaid, you just buy cards to refill. Additionally, when you buy a phone, you get the cost of the phone as prepaid credits. So if you spend 89 soles (~$30), as I did for a cheap phone, you get 89 soles of airtime. Sadly I didn't realize this or I might have sprung for the neato motorolla F3 which was only $10 more. The phone I did get is about as cheap as I've seen. At first I thought it was a color screen, but it's not. It's kind of like those old donkey kong games you had as a kid, with a stencil in the background and stenciled graphics in front which light up differently. Oh well, it works, I can't complain.

The fee structure is also a bit different here. Receiving calls on your cell is completely free, even internationally. You only pay when making outgoing calls. However, outgoing calls are really expensive, about 1.5 soles a minute. (ie, 40 cents) Tom claims this is part of the machismo culture in South American, he might have a point.

My previous stolen wifi doesn't seem to be working anymore, so I wandered around the apartment with my laptop trying to find another. I'm now sitting on the floor next to the door where I get a good signal to some other neighbor. Someone will be by Monday to fix/replace the WiMax modem though.

Today so far has been work work work, Eric is such a slave driver. But I think I'll go wander outside and find something to eat.

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