Given the exorbitant roaming rates, using my Fido phone in New York City seemed like it would be very unwise. On the Greyhound from Albany, however, a Colombian woman recommended that I pick up a $30 phone from Radio Shack, which comes with 300 minutes of talk time.
The LG phone itself seems fine, though maybe not super well built. The service, unfortunately, is useless. I was told when I got the phone that it would be two days before I could make or receive international calls. This is so they can run some sort of security check. After two days, the phone was still useless for calling Canadian numbers as well as my friend’s UK cell phone. I checked out the Net10 website and was told that you need to apply to activate international long distance. I did, and was told I would receive a text within 72 hours that activated the service. I am still waiting for that.
In short, my plan to spend $30 and get a working cell phone for a week (which I could then give away) turned out to be a total bust. Perhaps some of the other companies selling these disposable ‘burner’ phones would have been better for my purposes.
These disposable phones certainly demonstrate something about technology and economics. A couple of decades ago, a phone this small couldn’t be had for any sum of money. Now, they are sold for $30 along with 300 minutes of airtime, and used as a disposable commodity. I wonder what specific innovations permitted the drop in cost. Of course, there is also good reason to wonder what negative externalities go uncaptured in the price paid for the plastic package, little phone, and charger.