There are a couple of things you need to know about getting a mobile number in the United States.
And for someone from Kenya who is used to doing a whole range of things on her phone – from ordinary sms/ text, whatsapp and email to the remarkable money transfer – these will sound a little contrary to what common sense dictates.
But it tells you a lot about the United States and the Americans, and as my friend said when I vented my frustrations: “That’s the American way.”
When you buy the T mobile starter kit, you need to have a whole range of numbers at your finger tips including your phone’s IMEI number, the code for the state you are in, and a verification code that comes with the kit. Without these you will not be able to register your line or get a local number.
T mobile offers packages that I see as being under two umbrellas: the pay as you go and the contract.
The pay as you go which allows you to make calls and texts locally and internationally.
Seems simple but it is actually a little counter intuitive because you are charged for the calls you make and the calls you receive. I know the American phrase double dipping may not technically apply here but it is the perfect way to describe it, since both the caller and the receiver gets charged for every phone call.
Great for the mobile company but not for the individual.
If you sign up for a contract, which is how most of the locals do it, you can make as many local calls and send as many local texts as you want over the period of the contract. But this doesn’t include texts to international numbers, which means your mobile provider – which is supposed to increase communication on a global scale – is actually tying your hands on who you can communicate with.
But it’s a chicken and egg situation: did the mobile company introduce such a contract because it is what Americans want, or was the contract introduced to satisfy an American need. Either way it says a lot about American society.
So when you want to get a mobile number in the US, you will not be able to walk into any shop, buy a sim card that guarantees you a number and buy credit to load on your phone.
In fact it’s not a straight road at all; it’s more like a T junction.