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Viking Jimmy 25 December 2018 14:31

Current Communications
1) Merry Christmas, especially to those working away from home.
2) I went back and forth on where to post this, but settled on international jobs. Sorry if it needs to be moved.
3) I completed the following searches prior to posting:

"Kabul phone"
"Kabul communications"
"talking to family"
"Afghanistan phone"

I found a great thread, but it was from July 2011. Phones and communications have made drastic progress and improvements in the past 7 years, and I was hoping I could get current info from someone who has worked there in the past 6-12 months(TO8). I have talked to guys that were there about two years ago. One told me to buy a burner. One told me to just use my current phone. (I have a iPhone 7+ with ATT)… Anybody willing to tell me the current trends and intel on communicating with the wife and kids? My main thing is texting. Phone calls and video calls will be done from living quarters using wifi. Of course, being able to call/video/internet outside of wifi is a plus.

Also, Ive heard that tmobile offers free texting in Kabul. I have stayed away from the smaller companies due to wanting better service, but if tmobile is better for work, id be willing to switch.

I haven't been deployed since 2009 and none of these were really an option. So im basically ignorant from the ground up. I would really appreciate it if someone with current knowledge could fill me in and/or correct any misconceptions I have on the subject.

My current options as I perceive them...

1) Buy a burner when I get there.
2) Just use my iPhone through att
3) Switch to tmobile

Thanks again and Merry Christmas

Chesie 25 December 2018 16:16

Roshan is the most reliable cellular carrier in Kabul and has fairly reliable 3G throughout the city and spotty 4G. 3G is enough for acceptable FaceTime usage.

With your phone, I would recommend buying a WiFi puck and Put in a prepaid Roshan SIM card once you hit country. You can buy one at Bagram px or multiple places in Kabul. A dual sim phone like the new iPhones allows you to skip the WiFi puck idea, use your att line and roshan together.
I also use a Sapphire mifi puck, which is nice when you are traveling to several countries, because it has a built in esim, with reasonable data rates. You can put the roshan sim in when obtained, and using the roshan sim for data will get faster data speeds and a cheaper rate. The sapphire app allows you o switch between the eSIM and a physical SIM card like Roshan. You could also buy one of a dozen other mifi pucks available on the market, but the Sapphire is the mos versatile and convenient when country hopping.

If convenience is more important than money, AT&T has international data plans that will allow you to keep your phone on while overseas. THeir passport plan is 60/mo for 1gb data. Remember that data speeds in AFG are really slow compared to the US, so with heavy FaceTime usage, you may only blow thru 3-4gb per month. Roshan data plans are much cheaper.

With the Roshan/mifi puck combo, you connect your phone to the puck and use it as a WiFi hotspot. With your phone set to use WiFi calling, you will be reachable on our regular US number for both calls and texts. iMessage is encrypted and pretty secure; avoid SMS texting, as it is not secure. An app like Signal allows even more secure texting and video calls.

Your best bet, considering your phone, is to get a mifi puck and pick up a SIM card from Roshan when you get in-country. A dual-SIM iPhone like the new Xs or Xr would simplify electronics considerably, if you were thinking of upgrading. You would use an ATT eSIM, and leave the SIM card slot empty until you get a Roshan sim. You would still be reachable at your US number for text FaceTime and calls.

Good luck,

Maverick 25 December 2018 16:21

T-Mobile has free text & data there. Uses whatever service is available.

Pineapple 25 December 2018 17:44

I used (and still use) a 6S for calling home and have never had issues. The roshan wifi pucks have decent quality internet, and as long as your family also has iphones, you can text each other with no problems.

Only issues i have ever encountered with imessage is occasionally photos taken with iphones 8 and newer and then texted to me- the photo won't reliably download all the time on my end, just show the 'downloading' icon in the text app and never move. in that case i have them either fbook message, or whatsapp it to me.

facetime audio works great for me for calling home. I rarely, if ever, have had issues with it.

personally i like having a samsung type burner phone for work, and keeping my iphone just on the wifi for calling home and all of that.

Viking Jimmy 25 December 2018 20:08

Danny, thanks for the info! That clears things up considerably. I saw the passport plan, and figured it could get pretty pricey, pretty quick...

Viking Jimmy 25 December 2018 20:10

Maverick, seems pretty straight forward. Is that the route you would/do use?

Viking Jimmy 25 December 2018 20:11

Pineapple, thanks for the info about the text pictures. Now I can tell my wife that she can't upgrade her iPhone lol

racerfox 26 December 2018 09:27

I went T mobil after dealing with ATT for the last 3 years over seas and wont go back.

hardknocks 26 December 2018 11:32

T-Mobile works fine here. For wi-fi calling and texting.

Maverick 26 December 2018 14:41


Originally Posted by Viking Jimmy (Post 1058770614)
Maverick, seems pretty straight forward. Is that the route you would/do use?

Yep, that's what I would do. No concern over swapping SIMs, different numbers, having to use WhatsApp, etc. You get off of the plane and your phone works as if you landed in the US. Just use WiFi for calling as previously stated. Calls work fine on the cell network, but they do cost money. It's not expensive if you have to though.

KnifeHandActual0317 27 December 2018 08:07

Switched from ATT from to tmobes a long time ago and couldn’t be happier. I got a $200 bill one time from ATT for using google maps for 10 minutes overseas one time. That was it for me. It’s really a no brainer for international travelers. I pay $100 for 3 lines all with unlimited international data. I use my phone normally now instead of paying every month for a phone turned off. Voice calls are usually $.20/m. Plenty of apps that use data for voice calls too.

kelly1966 27 December 2018 22:58

If you're deploying with DOS you can call stateside for free if you have access DOS phone (landline).

Viking Jimmy 28 December 2018 09:46

Great info, thanks a ton everyone. Looks like I’ll be talking to T-Mobile then. Also heard they have a pretty decent discount program

jenzos 28 December 2018 13:37

I will be attempting to use "Viaero" overseas. It uses its own networks as well as switching between AT&T and T-Mobile, whichever is better. My hope is that it picks up the T-Mobile towers.

I'm not sure if it is available everywhere (I've only seen the stores in the midwest rural areas.) I only pay ~$60 a month with unlimited data and works fine in the US.

Dangercon 29 December 2018 04:21

Check out Google Fi, it can't be used on all phone brands/models (yet) but they're considering bringing Apple into the loop in 2019 (Currently just LG and Google phones are in)

You only have to pay for up to 6GB, data rates are the same in every country that they operate in (I've not been anywhere yet that it doesn't work great). Talk/Text is $20 then you pay $10/GB until 6GB. There are no data charges after 6GB.

I max out data usually, even while on project, and my bill never exceeds $90/month (including taxes/fees). Their billing is very very simple as well, no crazy list of charges or anything that might leave you scratching your head. I've used this service in Kabul and it does very well.

I still used a puck intermittently because it will likely pick up any cellular frequencies that my phone didn't. That worked well because Google touts their tech to be able to hop between wifi networks and cell networks seamlessly, which I vouch for.

If one were to go this route though I would recommend activating your phone/service while stateside just to limit any hang-ups. But Google Fi has awesome customer service so even if you had a problem getting in touch with them takes very little time.

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