D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Roam Mobility Review and Rogers Comparison

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 11:22 AM

On a recent trip to Seattle I used Roam Mobility, a service that offers Canadians travelling to the US with greatly reduced cell phone fees compared to roaming with our big telcos. Here’s my review of the service.

Set Up

With Roam, you purchase either a SIM card or a device. I purchased a SIM card for my Nokia 920 at my local Staples. That’s one pro of Roam that’s changed over the years – there are LOTS of retail locations that sell their SIM cards now, so its easy to fine one…even here in Winnipeg.

One thing I would mention is that you the consumer need to know what *type* of SIM card you require. I never even though about this when I bought my first Roam SIM , so I got the wrong size for my phone. Luckily I didn’t open it and was able to exchange it.

Setting up your services with Roam is somewhat simple. I say somewhat because their online ordering is a little…different.

image Once you create your account and activate your SIM card, you can top it up with different services. The UI is actually very straightforward, but jarringly different from what other online experiences offer. It’s definitely better, but I noticed today when I took the screenshot to the left that they’ve added little tool tips to help people along. This is a good thing, but make no mistake – they’re the ones doing the right thing.

After upgrading my SIM to allow for 4G LTE data speeds, I opted for a talk-text-data plan, which gave me 400 MB of 4G LTE data per day in addition to unlimited calling and texting (even long distance calling back to Canada!). I also decided to add on an extra 300 MB of 4G LTE data. Note that if you hit your limit on 4G LTE data you *still have unlimited data*, it just downgrades to 2G speeds.


Usage

I had no problems with usage. Remember your phone must already be unlocked before you can use the Roam SIM card. Once you have the new SIM in place, you alter your APN settings (very easy step in my case and Roam offers walkthrough instructions), and that’s it – you’re on the Roam Mobility network!

I was in the Seattle area, and I had absolutely no issues with connectivity, using data, texting, or calling home. I cannot tell you how incredibly impressed I was with the service! Seriously, I experienced absolutely no issues whatsoever once I was on the Roam network. However, I was at a conference in early October in Atlanta and a colleague there was using Roam and had issues using data. Knowing that cellular service varies from place to place even with the same carrier, my comments should be taken in the context of the Seattle area only.

Pricing

I did *not* use Roam Mobility for that conference in October – I used Rogers default roaming rates. So let’s compare Roam and Rogers over similar trips and see what value I received and the cost for each.

 

Roam
5 Day Trip to US

Rogers
4 Day Trip to US

Long Distance Calling

Unlimited

Didn’t have a plan, so used Skype

Texting

Unlimited

$7.50 (10 sent x .75)

Data

Unlimited 2G,
400 MB per day 4G LTE
(+ 300 MB add on)

$31.96 for 200 MB
($7.99/50 MB per day)

Total Cost

$24.79

$39.46


A few comments on the pricing:

There is an up-front cost for the Roam SIM card, but its a one-time $20 cost. Comparing the two trips above and that I was able to make lengthy long distance calls home and had no concerns about texting throughout my trip, even with that cost it’s cheaper than if I had called/texted with Rogers.

Also note that the 50 MB of data Rogers offers is PER DAY. I call that out because I paid almost $32 dollars for 200 MB of data over four days, but I actually used under 70 MB over my trip!

Because Roam’s pricing is based on unlimited calls/texts/data per day, I didn’t have to think about my usage unlike Rogers which is entirely based on a per-usage scenario. Also because of the type of plan I have, I can’t take advantage of the new Roger’s Roam Like Home plan (you’ll see why below), so while I could sign up for one of the Travel Packs from Rogers I find them expensive and awkward (if I only have a 4 day trip planned in a month to the US, why do I need a plan that covers 31 days?).

Roam is UNBELIEVABLY cheaper than Rogers and yet offers so much more value! It makes you really wonder how the big telcos can get away with gouging us on roaming fees.

But what about Rogers new $5 roaming plan?

This week Rogers announced a new roaming plan – for $5 per day you get the same services you currently get with your Rogers plan. That *sounds* like a good deal, but depending on what your current plan is it may not be. The crux of the $5 deal: You Need a Share Everything Plan.

I have the rate plan they offered a few years ago, with 6 GB of data, unlimited text, and 200 weekday minutes with unlimited evenings/weekends. Because I’m on that plan and not the Share Everything plans they currently offer, I don’t qualify for the $5 roaming.

Even a bigger kicker – if I did switch to a Share Everything plan, I would start paying $125 for the same level of services and data as I’m paying $60 a month for currently! ARE YOU KIIDDING ME ROGERS?!

So for those who are forced into the new Share Everything plans, the $5 is a good deal. But just realize you’re getting gouged on your regular bill anyway so you’re not *really* gaining anything.

Conclusion

Roam Mobility provided fantastic service for me while in the Seattle area. They were better on cost, options, and service than Rogers hands down. I will absolutely use Roam Mobility for future trips to the US!




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