Talking Heads

Have Phone, Will Travel

Need a cellular phone while traveling overseas? Before you leave home, check out a phone rental plan from Cellhire USA Inc. For $99 per month or $8 per day, Cellhire puts a GSM (global system for mobiles, a worldwide standard) wireless phone in your hand that will work virtually anywhere in Europe, Asia or Australia.

You'll have to pay for each call, but Cellhire's rates are competitive with those of most calling cards--they're significantly lower than overseas hotel calls or locally rented phones. Bundled into the price are voice-mail service, access to Cellhire's 24-hour support center and accessories such as batteries. Should your phone break or need a new battery, Cellhire can mail new hardware to you overnight. For an extra $5 per day, you can rent a data card that allows the phone to access the Internet and e-mail via your laptop computer.

There's more: A satellite phone designed to work anywhere on the planet can be rented for $245 per week, plus a $4,000 deposit. And this month, Cellhire will begin renting handheld satellite phones that couple global connections with easy portability. They'll use the upcoming Iridium service, based on a flock of low-flying communications satellites currently in orbit by Motorola.

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