What are you waiting for, register to join now (it's free): CLICK HERE

Author Topic: Peace Corps provided cell phones  (Read 10882 times)

Offline jlmanzak

  • Leading Member
  • Posts: 42
    • A Wandering Path Blog
  • PC Status: Applicant
Peace Corps provided cell phones
« on: November 15, 2013, 07:06:56 AM »
I have read that PC will provide cell phones to volunteers to use for communication. Is that true in every country? Does PC pay for the plan as well, or is that the responsibility of the volunteer? Does an internet/data plan come with that?

I am worried about this in particular because I will be doing my Masters capstone project while serving, and my current research proposal is dependent on having online communication between my host community and high schools here in the States. I'd like to get a  better idea of how feasible this plan is. While I know I'll have internet access at the banking town, my project would be much more comprehensive if I had more consistent internet access, even if it is just the ability to update a facebook page.

Offline shawn

  • Forum Champion
  • Posts: 85
    • Pack.It.Up Adventures
  • PC Status: RPCV
Re: Peace Corps provided cell phones
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2013, 09:43:00 AM »
Here in Rwanda, Peace Corps does not provide cell phones, nor do they pay for them or (directly) phone plans/credit. I don't know of any post that currently provides cell phones to PCVs, although they do include a communication stipend in your living allowance.

most countries here in Africa (stereotype, I know) have USB modems that can connect a computer to the internet via the cellphone network. The use and feasibility of WiFi is also quickly growing around the world.

A lot of Volunteers these days either buy a cheap phone once in country or bring theirs from the States.   
PCVL - Rwanda 2010-2013
NPCA Serving Volunteer Advisory Council

Offline tiranasaurusrex

  • Posting Member
  • Posts: 2
  • PC Status: Applicant
Re: Peace Corps provided cell phones
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2013, 08:52:13 PM »
Current volunteers have said that cell phones are provided in Albania. The phones are typically old block phones, but the plan has at least calling and texting for emergency, plus data of some sort. Some volunteers bring their own smartphones and switch out the sim cards.
Albania invitee, March 2014-May 2016, Community Health Education

Offline Marion

  • Administrator
  • Forum Champion
  • Posts: 70
  • Botswana (2011-2013)
  • PC Status: RPCV
Re: Peace Corps provided cell phones
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2013, 02:16:05 PM »
It seems that on many issues like this every country can run things a little differently.  In Botswana they gave us a cell phone the first or second night we were in country. 

I also brought an unlocked Blackberry and successfully used it in Botswana.  It only cost about 150 Pula ($20 month) and included unlimited data.
Marion
RPCV, Botswana (2011-2013)

Offline cubbiesrock2010@gmail.com

  • Posting Member
  • Posts: 2
  • PC Status: PCV
Re: Peace Corps provided cell phones
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2013, 09:20:58 PM »
In Lesotho, pc does not provide cell phones. In Azerbaijan, PC does provide cell phones.

Offline Katlego

  • Posting Member
  • Posts: 4
  • PC Status: RPCV
Re: Peace Corps provided cell phones
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2013, 10:36:39 PM »
Marion, I thought PC gave us the phones and  we were charged for them in some fashion what was it 160 pula? they were very cheap. I love my PC phone. The two times I went back to Botswana I still had the same number because I kept enough minutes on it and the timing worked out so they hadn't expired. It's nice to have all my Botswana contact numbers right where I left them when I get there again.

 Whether they buy it or not, we all clearly felt it was worth it to have, so if nothing else when you get there and they don't buy you one, get a cheap one you can just buy minutes for. I didn't miss my blackberry while there but I know some want to have all that extra stuff. If you do, you will definitely have to pay for it out of something besides your PC pay.

Offline Branden Ryan

  • Posting Member
  • Posts: 15
    • Branden's Chronicles Abroad
  • PC Status: PCV
Re: Peace Corps provided cell phones
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2013, 09:49:55 AM »
Jessica - Sorry to be posting on all of your threads, haha! I guess it helps having a current PCV at your future post!

PCTZ doesn't provide cell phones, but they're fairly cheap in country (around 50k TSH for a dual-sim, which you'll definitely want). Resource PCVs will help you get them during PST. All of us are put on a PCTZ-wide Airtel plan, with 5000 TSH deducted from our pay every month. It allows us 100 free texts a month and free calling to other PCVs/Staff on the plan. But, you'll also have to buy vocha for texts and such after that and to call people that aren't on the plan, and if you have any other providers (Vodacom, Tigo, or Zantel here in TZ).

Internet-wise, connection will definitely depend on your site and the proximity to your banking town. I get internet at site, but it is a pretty slow Edge connection, and only Airtel. Some people can get faster internet, some don't get any at all and have to wait till they get to the banking towns. Some people buy fancier phones in country with internet access, or bring unlocked phones, and pay for packages that let them Facebook message/surf basic pages on their phones with internet packages (you cannot buy internet packages with the sim card that is on the Airtel plan or it'll kick you off, which is why dual-sim helps!).

It'll all make more sense once you get to country, but if connectivity is important for your Masters work, I'd recommend getting an unlocked smart phone that you'll be able to put a sim in here so you can access the web easier than with a USB dongle and a computer at site!
Branden Ryan
PCV, Tanzania, 2013-2015

Offline jlmanzak

  • Leading Member
  • Posts: 42
    • A Wandering Path Blog
  • PC Status: Applicant
Re: Peace Corps provided cell phones
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2013, 03:22:32 PM »
Hi Branden! I actually want to say thanks for posting on all my threads! It is very nice to have someone currently in TZ responding :)

And this is exactly the info I was hoping to get! I don't currently have a smartphone, so I guess it's time for me to get on ebay and find a reasonably priced one!

Offline cdillon8769

  • Forum Champion
  • Posts: 52
  • Be the change you want to see
  • PC Status: Applicant
Re: Peace Corps provided cell phones
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2013, 04:23:29 PM »
SIM cards are needed for internet/cell phone use. This means apple phones won't work.
Caroline
Invitee: Lesotho, Africa June 2014

"The ones crazy enough to believe that they can change the world, do" Steve Jobs

Offline Branden Ryan

  • Posting Member
  • Posts: 15
    • Branden's Chronicles Abroad
  • PC Status: PCV
Re: Peace Corps provided cell phones
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2013, 08:37:18 PM »
People here used theirs by shaving down the SIMs so they fit into the microsim slots, so don't worry about that!
Branden Ryan
PCV, Tanzania, 2013-2015

Offline shawn

  • Forum Champion
  • Posts: 85
    • Pack.It.Up Adventures
  • PC Status: RPCV
Re: Peace Corps provided cell phones
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2013, 09:38:10 PM »
Any phone that has a SIM card will work, regardless of its SIM card's size. Check to make sure it has a SIM card. If its an iPhone, it should have a little tray on the side that pops out using a paperclip or earing, BUT NOT ALL iPhones do have SIM cards, especially older models. Other phones may have it being the backing or under the battery. Your phone also needs to be unlocked, so whether you already have one or buy one online, call the original carrier ask them nicely if they'll unlock it for you.
PCVL - Rwanda 2010-2013
NPCA Serving Volunteer Advisory Council

Offline cdillon8769

  • Forum Champion
  • Posts: 52
  • Be the change you want to see
  • PC Status: Applicant
Re: Peace Corps provided cell phones
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2013, 08:10:50 AM »
Thanks for the info... I really was prepared not to have my phone and possibly getting one in country. I still might depending on price and other hurdles.
Caroline
Invitee: Lesotho, Africa June 2014

"The ones crazy enough to believe that they can change the world, do" Steve Jobs

Offline Amelia.Plant

  • Leading Member
  • Posts: 39
    • MASA
  • PC Status: RPCV
Re: Peace Corps provided cell phones
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2013, 05:18:03 AM »
I know some volunteers who brought iPhones/iPods for wireless internet use at some of the few cafes that have it in the capital.  Not too many in Botswana used them as their day-to-day phones.  I think it draws more attention to us to be carrying them around all the time.  And it's really not necessary, in my opinion.  Sometimes we forget the old ways of Peace Corps--how many of us desire to do Peace Corps to UNPLUG.  If you originally are interested in that notion, go for it!  I have used this little brick phone with a flashlight for two and a half years and I can honestly say that I do not miss my iPhone.
Amelia
RPCV, Botswana 2011-2013

Offline shawn

  • Forum Champion
  • Posts: 85
    • Pack.It.Up Adventures
  • PC Status: RPCV
Re: Peace Corps provided cell phones
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2013, 05:27:01 AM »
I have used this little brick phone with a flashlight for two and a half years

Amelia makes a good point. every phone I've seen here comes with a light/torch that doesn't kill your battery, and the battery itself lasts for days. iPhones/smartphones a great and quite useful, but when you're out in the sticks and maybe have sporadic access to electricity, the only thing better than a longer battery life is having a nifty flashlight built into your phone.
PCVL - Rwanda 2010-2013
NPCA Serving Volunteer Advisory Council

Offline PeaceCorps1

  • Forum Champion
  • Posts: 75
  • "Don't try to fine tune someone else's view"-Bush
  • PC Status: RPCV
Re: Peace Corps provided cell phones
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2014, 04:46:57 PM »
Those who were Wardens got a free cell phone.
"If it were not for the reporters, I'd tell you the truth"', President Chester A. Arthur