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Definitive Cell Phone FAQ v0.5 (READ FIRST)

Moderator: Mick

Definitive Cell Phone FAQ v0.5 (READ FIRST)

Postby djlowballer » 13 Apr 2010, 11:43

As about half of this forum ends up with people asking the exact same questions over and over again here is a collection of important points. This is by no means exhaustive, and it will need to be updated as new information becomes available but it should cut down on so many of the repeat posts we get on this forum.

Please reply with any corrections or suggestions.

* Yes Taiwan Sells the iPhone
* All major carriers offer it subsidized on contracts
* TW iPhones are SIM Unlocked
* SIM Unlocked phones can be purchased without contract. They are around 20,000NT

* Only BIS available on Taiwan Dageda
* Means only 3g with this provider

* Generally great service in the cities
* good MRT coverage
* Wifi networks all over Taipei
* Decent Signal all over the island

*3G or better is available
*Speeds in Taipei are very good
*Unlimited Data averages around 800NT per month

Prepaid Service:
*Can Be bought at Airport, 7/11, or any Cell Phone Service
*Two Forms of ID needed
*If you are on any visit longer than a few weeks, it is better to get a month to month postpay plan.

*You will need ARC and Passport to sign a telecoms contract
*If you are taking a phone(the only reason to get a contract) you must pay a large portion of the contract upfront
* You will not pay monthly bills until this pool has run out.
*If you do not want a contract, you will still have to pay a small deposit. If you stay over 2 months the money will be refunded to you.
*Bills can be paid by direct deposit or at any convenience store.

International Service:
* All Taiwanese phones can make and receive international calls and SMS
* Go to this websiteand figure out which area code you need to use.
* If your local number is 09******** then your international friends can call you at +8669********
* Average cost of an international SMS is 5NT to send
* Receiving calls and SMS is free.

Will my phone work in Taiwan?
If your phone is GSM(has a SIM card) then probably. If you are worried check the GSM global coverage map and compare your phones specs to Taiwan's frequencies. If you have a CDMA Provider at home(Sprint, Verizon, or any phones from Japan or Jordan) your phone will not work here. There is no way to change it, they are 100% incompatible.

Which Cell Phone Should I get?

If you are just here for teaching English or study, it really doesn't matter what phone you get. Odds are you want something to SMS, Make and Receive Calls and browse the internet. The first pair can be done by any mobile phone on the market and fairly well at that. All 3 can be pretty well covered by any smartphone made in the past 2 years. It really comes down to your personal preference. Go to some shops to get a feel for devices, read up on reviews, and make an informed decision based on your interests. If you have to ask a bunch of strangers for opinion, just go buy an iPhone because it will do everything you want and it is pretty.
If you are a business person who has to integrate with corporate servers, ask your IT department for recommendations. You might be able to get a corporate subsidized mobile phone.
If you are a mobile developer, well you probably skipped this question.

Which Provider should I use?
Tossup. I use CHT because it owns all the infrastructure and I get great speeds in Xinyi. Ask people in your neigborhood about what service they use.

Phone Specific Threads:
(somebody find the key thread for this)
iPhone Device Discussion
App Store Discussion
Android Based:
Android Phone Discussion
Android Market Discussion
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Re: Definative Cell Phone FAQ v0.5 (READ FIRST)

Postby Dr. McCoy » 13 Apr 2010, 12:00

This will be very helpful to a lot of people I think. (but you misspelled definitive)
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Re: Definitive Cell Phone FAQ v0.5 (READ FIRST)

Postby djlowballer » 13 Apr 2010, 12:07

I always have trouble with that one. Thanks
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Re: Definitive Cell Phone FAQ v0.5 (READ FIRST)

Postby catfish13 » 13 Apr 2010, 13:07

Thanks, but I think you should also include more general information and some stuff on 3G internet service plans, since those also come up in the living in TW forum and here.

Some of the general stuff:

Band Frequencies
- All carriers in Taiwan use both GSM 900MHz and 1800MHz as 2G bands and only UMTS (aka 3G) 2100MHz as their 3G band.
- Vibo Telecom is a 3G only carrier so to get service with them you need a 3G phone with the proper frequency
- If you're from the Americas and want to use your old device, make sure you check that (a) the phone has the proper 2G and 3G frequencies [3G in the US is implemented over existing 850/1900MHz 2G frequencies and not 2100MHz] and (b) the phone does not have a carrier subsidy lock. If you are not sure about (b), check with your current carrier.
- Aside from GSM, there are CDMA2000 (A+, or Asia Pacific Telecom) and PHS services available. However, you will not be able to use your existing Verizon/Sprint/Telus etc. etc CDMA phone with A+ because CDMA phones in Taiwan use RUIM cards and none of the North American carriers do. There are a few shops that supposedly can help you activate a non-RUIM CDMA device ("shao ji") if you have your device ESN, MDN and a release key, but from what I gather it is very expensive (sometimes costing as much as a new handset) and the operations are often shut down fairly quickly because A+ does not typically allow non-A+ devices to be activated on their network. Do not attempt this unless you have an ultra-high end CDMA phone and are willing to take a risk bricking it (firmware flashes are required for this sort of mod) and never being able to reactivate elsewhere again.

Calling Rates
- Aside from few selected plans, most carriers bill you by the second and by the type of calls you make. Rates are broken down into either in-network, out-of-network, or landline calls, and each type of calls may be broken down into nominal rates or discounted rates (late evenings or special offers), depending on your carrier. SMS and video calls are billed similarly. Out-of-network or landline calls can sometimes cost twice as much as in-network calls, so if most of your social circle uses Zhonghua, go with Zhonghua as well.
- Vibo and Asia Pacific have a few plans that offer unlimited and free in-network calling.
- Zhonghua Telecom (CHT) has the highest number of subscribers, followed by Taiwan Mobile (Taiwan Dageda, myfone), Farestone (FET), then Vibo.
- If you have an ARC with 3-year validity and happen to be working in a relatively large company or be enrolled in a local university as a student, most carriers offer some form of student/corporate discount. CHT, for instance, has discount calling plans that give you $366 a month of calling credit if you agree to pay $183/month for 2 years or unlimited 3G internet for $499/month with a free USB 3G modem on a 3-year committment. Taiwan Mobile has a "pay $50, talk for $200" enterprise plan that requires you to be an employee in one of the large local Enterprises (like TSMC, UMC, Foxconn etc). Check with your HR department first.

More on the iPhone
- CHT, Taiwan Mobile and FET all have iPhones available for purchase.
- If you have your mind set on an iPhone and have yet to decide on a carrier, CHT offers the best iPhone bundle deal out of the three carriers, as their special plan gives you free additional airtime, 100-200 free text messages, some amount of MMS allowance, and a 20% bonus on the service deposit you are all required to give when you sign up for service (i.e., you prepay $10,000, CHT counts that as $12,000).
- However, if most of your social circle uses FET or Taiwan Mobile, go with those other two instead.

3G Internet
- Every carrier has unlimited 3G internet plans available. They all cost roughly $700-$850 a month, not counting discounts or benefits you may get with other special offers
- Those internet plans may either be standalone data-only plans with pay-per-use voice rates (intended for laptops or netbooks), or add-on only plans that require you to have voice service (intended for smartphones or PDA's).

Prepaid 3G internet
- Vibo offers a 1-, 3- or 5-day pass for NT$99, $249, or $399 respectively. Unlimited data transfer during the period. To get this, you would sign up for a prepaid line and whenever you want to use the internet, you would have to call their automated ordering system FROM the prepaid service line and make a purchase. With Vibo, their data service is disabled by default with their prepaid service. You will receive a text notification that it has been turned on.

Pricing information here:,,,,.html

- Taiwan Mobile offers a similar service with pricing closely matching Vibo's. Theirs is called "catch internet by the day" and while their website does not explicitly mention it, this by-the-day internet service does work on prepaid accounts and the balance is deducted from the balance you maintain on your prepaid line. Also, you apparently CAN order the service over the internet (there is a website interface for it) or call CS to process the purchase (YMMV, as when I called them up and asked the CS rep did ask me if I wanted to get the pass right then on the phone, but since I didn't go through with it I had no way of telling if it was indeed doable on the phone.)

They'll send you a text notification and notify you that the service has been enabled and when it is set to expire, so the iPad would need to have the ability to receive text messages for you to see if the service is turned on. Be forewarned, however, that Taiwan Mobile DOES ALSO charge for internet on a per-kilobyte basis so unless you get the notification that the unlimited internet pass is turned on YOU WILL BE CHARGED BY THE KILOBYTE, and their rate works out to be $46 per megabyte of data so downloading a song off the iTunes store will cost you $200-$300 in data transfer fees alone.

Here's additional pricing information should you need it:

- Zhonghua Telecom has a standalone pay-by-the-day service (3G行動上網日租型) where you can buy 3 days of service for $250 or 7 days of service for $450. No voice service available with this data plan. To get this multi-day pass you will actually have to go to a CHT service branch and get a SIM card which is activated at the counter and deactivated when your pass expires each time you need the service. is the site you want to look at if you do want to go through this route.
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Re: Definitive Cell Phone FAQ v0.5 (READ FIRST)

Postby catfish13 » 13 Apr 2010, 13:11

Also, this is the link to one of the major Blackberry threads:

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Re: Definitive Cell Phone FAQ v0.5 (READ FIRST)

Postby catfish13 » 09 May 2010, 01:44

I was at Carrefour today and saw that they currently have a promotion on their prepaid offering with their own Carrefour Telecom, which is a MVNO carrier riding on Zhonghua Telecom's 2G network.

Anyways, the deal is that if you activated a new prepaid account with NT$300 worth of airtime, you get to make NT$600 worth of calls at the rate of $6.8/minute (deducted at a per-second basis though), regardless whether it is in-network (Carrefour Telecom), out-of-network, or landline calls.

I believe that the promotion is good until 5/31/10. Two pieces of ID are required just like every other carrier.

Edit: I don't suppose a mod would be open to the idea of stickifying this thread?
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Re: Definitive Cell Phone FAQ v0.5 (READ FIRST)

Postby engerim » 09 May 2010, 12:38

International 3G and other rates for CHT (mostly in chinese but comprehensible I think):
In general, with CHT, try to get on a Vodafone network. ... e&CatID=32
Can save you a lot if you also send a lot of SMS with friends and family.
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Re: Definitive Cell Phone FAQ v0.5 (READ FIRST)

Postby maunaloa » 09 May 2010, 20:36

For the record, Verizon Wireless now sells "global" smartphones and USB modems that have both CDMA and GSM transceivers, but the smartphones are more expensive.

Also, Verizon sells a "Global Access" data plan (5 GB/mo. for USD 129) that works with their global USB modems, like the Pantech UMW-190, BUT if you want to use CDMA data outside the US you have to "leave the US in CDMA mode" and any plan change while outside the US will force you into GSM only mode (which is OK except in Korea). The dumbed down VzW TS monkey chant for this gotcha in CDMA service is "CDMA has to track you continuously after you leave the US". If you plan on using VzW Global Access, get VzW to register your SIM card before leaving the States, because to register it after leaving the States counts as a plan change. VzW does not automatically do this because they don't want you on GSM data networks when Stateside.
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Re: Definitive Cell Phone FAQ v0.5 (READ FIRST)

Postby strider » 10 May 2010, 17:09

6.8NT per minute? Is that a typical cost? I can't believe it's so expensive for some reason I was expecting a prepaid phone to be cheaper here than in the states, where you can easily pay 2NT a minute...
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Re: Definitive Cell Phone FAQ v0.5 (READ FIRST)

Postby jashsu » 10 May 2010, 17:35

strider wrote:6.8NT per minute? Is that a typical cost? I can't believe it's so expensive for some reason I was expecting a prepaid phone to be cheaper here than in the states, where you can easily pay 2NT a minute...

You can see Zhonghua Telecom's prepaid costs here: ... p?CatID=15

It ranges from 3.6NT/min (off-peak hours, in-network) up to 11.4NT/min (peak hours, out-of-network)

Compare to T-Mobile USA (we'll use the normal pay-as-you-go billing):

There is no peak/off-peak or in-network, it simply ranges from 33c/min (about 10.4NT/min) down to 10c/min (about 3.2NT/min).

So all in all, it's fairly comparable, with US carriers favoring bulk minutes buys and Taiwan carriers favoring the actual time and conditions of the call. By the way, you may notice many Taiwanese carrying two (or more!) phones. One of the main reasons for this is to benefit from in-network.
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