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Calling All Countries

The latest cell phones let you roam, if you want to.

Traveling overseas is an increasingly common requirement for entrepreneurs. But staying in touch with your office and customers at home is arduous when visiting clients in multiple countries. If you need more access than hotel phones allow, you could find yourself dealing with differing cell phone standards or spending precious time finding a cell phone rental provider.

Thankfully, smaller cellular service providers with an international perspective are catching on to the need for one-stop cellular service. One company, International Mobile Communications Inc. (IMC) of Bethesda, Maryland, provides a service called WorldCell. "We provide international calling and roaming capabilities in more than 90 countries from Austria to Thailand," says Blake Swensrud, the firm's founder. Phone rental fees are $75 for the first week and $50 per week thereafter, with discounts available for lengthy rentals. Calling charges vary by country, of course, but WorldCell says their calls cost substantially less than the outrageous rates charged by hotels.

Using conventional cell phones, IMC has negotiated interconnection agreements with cellular service providers worldwide, ensuring that users are never without a phone connection. Travelers can rent the phones at airport kiosks or can obtain a phone by calling (888) WORLDCELL or visiting

Gene Koprowski has covered the tech industry for 10 years and writes a monthly computing column for The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition. Contact him at

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This article was originally published in the June 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Calling All Countries.

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