Tips for preparing your phone before an international trip

In the past we at GaramChai.com reviewed phone calling plans, and Voice over Internet (VOIP) services. An increasing number of Americans continue to travel across the globe for business and to visit foreign lands.

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The Wired magazine has an interesting feature that highlights ways “to prep your phone for International travel” 

The Wired article assumes that you have a smartphone at your disposal. Given the fact that smartphones are cheap – many startups are selling smartphones for undeer $100 – this is perhaps a valid assumption.

The tips are timely and easy to follow:

Level 1: Go Wi-Fi Only – Good news: You can go “off the grid” and still update your feeds by using your phone in Wi-Fi mode. Just toggle off cellular data or leave your phone in airplane mode from the moment you board the plane.  This is a very practical tip for a couple of reasons

  1. Wi-Fi has become commonplace and pervasive across the globe. When you travel to any major metro across the world you are bound to find cheap or Free wi-fi service at hotels, restaurants, malls and offices.
  2. Thanks to services like Whatsup and other VOIP chat software, high-speed Wifi can be used to for voice calling and you don’t need a data and voice plan during the trip!

Level 2: Take Your American Plan Abroad – “If you need better connectivity to, say, hail a Lyft from the Acropolis, simply add a global package to your current service. It’s shockingly easy. For example, AT&T offers a service called Passport, which gets you 200 MB of data and unlimited texting in more than 200 countries for just $40 tacked onto your current monthly plan. (Calls abroad still cost a buck a minute, so talk quickly.) Verizon offers a similar service, Travel Pass, that costs $5 a day to extend your plan to Mexico and Canada and $10 per day for service in more than 100 other countries.

Tip: One thing to keep in mind with a plan that you can easily run out of bandwidth or data plans while traveling. Use this service with caution; or be willing to shell out the big bucks.

Level 3: Talk Like the Locals: Flexing that unlimited vacation policy and staying abroad for more than a week or two? Consider replacing your SIM card and using a local service provider. First, make sure your phone is unlocked. You can do this by swapping your SIM card for another one and confirming that your phone still works, or simply calling your service provider. The FCC requires that providers unlock all devices so you can use them on any network, so simply ask your provider for an unlock code.

Power Up: Luckily, almost all smartphones will work plugged into outlets between 100 volts and 240 volts, so you probably don’t need a voltage converter to charge your phone. However, you will need a phone adapter plug.

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NRI in News: AT&T’s High Speed-Network is Helping Suman Kanuganti’s Smart Glasses Change the World

Imagine having just arrived at a busy airport and having to navigate to baggage claim, all the while having your eyes closed. Now imagine having to choose your bag out of hundreds of cases of luggage. This was the scenario that Aira’s Co-founder and CEO, Suman Kanuganti, gave at a 2016 global technology conference. This task, which we are casually able to do, is made exponentially difficult for the blind and visually impaired who make up more than 22 million of the U.S. population.

To help those faced with visibility challenges every day, Suman Kanuganti and his team created Aira, a live-time navigational service company that leverages wearable devices, human assisted AI, and widespread bandwidth. Aira was developed within AT&T Foundry for Connected Health, a workshop that fosters emerging Internet of Things (IoT) companies. Here, Suman was able to work closely with AT&T for nine months before showcasing Aira at CES 2017.

Aira utilizes innovative smart glasses technology, along with a dedicated team of certified agents, to guide the users’ around their surroundings while AT&T Dynamic Traffic Management gives Aira agents prioritized connectivity. The user taps on the glasses to connect to an agent who offers assistance. Using a video camera, the agents can “see” from the wearer’s perspective in near real-time and communicate back to the wearer. This way, Aira is able to help, not just in navigation, but also for various circumstances that require visionary aid. Suman’s goal is to expand on these services and develop better software to help those with dementia or autism.

About Suman Kanuganti

Suman holds an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Finance, but more importantly, Suman was able to cultivate his vision from his roots, pulling from his Bachelor’s in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Kakatiya University, India. His learnings as well as more than 10 years of expertise in leadership and tech has helped develop Aira into fruition, successfully enabling many to navigate independently and even allowing a visually impaired runner, Erich Manser, to finish this year’s Boston Marathon 2017. Beyond the marathon, Erich stated that Aira is helpful for every-day tasks, from picking out a special-occasion card to navigating through populated airports.