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Roam Mobility offers competitive US roaming for Canadians

TravellingEdward KiledjianComment
Previously I have published articles about the new roaming plans from Fido and Rogers. Although their plans are acceptable to the casual user, many smartphone owners may find these plans restrictive and too expensive for longer trips.
This is where Roam Mobility steps in to offer different plans for customers with unlocked smartphones or those who buy Roam's devices.

What's so special about Roam Mobility

Roam offers a wide range of SIM cards to accomodate all GSM phones : standard SIM, microSIM, nanoSIM (like the iPhone 5).
Once you have their SIM card, you can then subscribe to one of their US roaming packages
Their packages are much more competitively priced than any of the big canadian carriers. 

Comparing the package

Bell and Telus offer 100MB of US data only roaming for $40 for 30 days ($0.40 per MB).
Roam Mobility offers 500MB of US data only roaming for $29.95 for 30 days ($0.06 per MB).
Buy a bigger data plan and the price drops even cheaper:
  • Roam Mobility 1GB  US data only roaming for $39.95 for 30 days ($0.04 per MB).
  • Roam Mobility 2GB  US data only roaming for $59.95 for 30 days ($0.03 per MB).
  • Roam Mobility 5GB  US data only roaming for $99.95 for 30 days ($0.02 per MB).

Talk + Text + Data

You may want some voice minutes in addition to the data package and Roam has you covered here too. When you opt for the Talk + Text + Data packages, they come in 1 day, 3 day, 7 day, 14 day and 30 day packages.
All of the Talk + Text + Data packages come with:
  • Unlimited talk and text within the US and back to Canada
  • Free voicemail and caller ID

Each package comes with a predetermined amount of data. As an example the 7 day package comes with 700MB of data and costs an affordable $27.95.

Read this page to figure out what kind of speeds you can expect based on your device.

How do I get started

To get started, you need to buy a Roam Mobility SIM card. You can purchase one online from their website or through one of 400 locations accross the country (which is the fastest option). Major Canadian retailers you may want to check out:

 

  • Futureshop
  • Shaw
  • Many London Drugs locations in Western Canada.

 

Once you have the SIM card in hand, you create an account on their website and attach the SIM card to it. You then choose your plan and select the start date. If you have enough time between ordering and travelling, you can do it all on their website (purchase and activation) in one step.
If you are in the US and need to top-up your data, just send a text message with the word "topup" to 7850.
If you are travelling with your own unlocked smartphone, you will haev to change your device's APN to access the US providers data network. This is simple enough and the instructions are on their website.

Real World test

Assuming you configured your device's APN before leaving, all you have to do when in the US is replace your Canadian sim with the ROAM Mobility one and that's it. You get a message confirming your plan is active and everything just worked.
They rely on the T-Mobile network in the US so as long as TMO has good coverage where you are going, you should be golden. 
Check out their coverage map here.
As an example, if you are a day-trip visitor to Burlington Vermont or Plattsburg NY then you will get 2G speeds. In NY City you can get 3G/4G coverage as long as your device supports the T-Mobile bands (1700/2100MHz). Most iPhone's as an example don't support these bands however the new iPhone 5 that was recently released (in 2013) may have access to the T-Mobile 3G/4G network.
Even if your phone doesn't support the TMO 4G band, remember that they are upgrading their HSPA+ network to support LTE speeds and currently have 40 cities upgraded.
Connectivity was reliable and stable. Voice quality was the expected cell phone quality and having unlimited US voice calling is excellent. 
You can use your phone's hotspot feature with any of Roam Mobilities data plans. The Roam page is here.

Verdict

I asked my American contacts about their experience with T-Mobile and the answers are 50/50. Some people love it and have nothing but praise while others complain about horrible coverage. The real deciding factor is your destination.