I thought it would take a while to sort out all the mobile phone options here but it in the end it only took a couple hours walking down Oxford popping into the many phone shops lining both sides of the street.
If you’re going to be here for less than 12 months you don’t want to be locked in to a phone contract so that leaves you with the “pay as you go” choices. Every phone operator has their twist on the concept but since many shops lay out all the plans from all the operators in a simple grid they’re easy to compare.
To start off, we want the cheapest phone and an operator with good UK coverage. £39.95/~$72.00 (VAT included) for a Nokia 3410 (pictured at left) and service from T-Mobile. 30p/minute up to £10/mo, 20p/min up to £20, and 10p/min for calls over £20/mo. Cool things: no bonus taxes or surcharges, no charge for incoming calls, text messages, voice mail, or for checking voice mail. So if you’re only using a phone for incoming calls and messages the service is essentially free!
They have this concept of ‘top up’ cards which you use to add money to your phone account. Ideally we would just have the phone company bill our credit card as needed but that is turning out to be tricky. They want the address the credit card is associated with to be the same as the address you register your phone with which must be a UK address and it’ll be a little while until we have one of those.