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Roam Mobility User Review – Enjoying Phone & Data In the US Minus the Canadian Price Gouge

I just returned from a week in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show, checked my data usage and compared it to what it would have cost with any Canadian company at a low (NOT!) $6/MB for data.  Considering the fact that I had used 320MB of data, the price tag with my provider, Bell, would have been a whopping $1920 for that data alone.  Talked into Roam Mobility for the week, unlimited US talk, free Canadian calls without roaming fees, unlimited international text, 2GB of high-speed data, tethering and voicemail cost me all of $27.95 CDN.  Forgive my rant but we need to find a way to break free of a system where ‘the big three‘ can pay off governments to maintain sky-high prices and prevent fair competition.  How is it that I could make countless calls from Las Vegas to Ontario for that $27.95, and without a single roaming fee?

UNDERSTANDING OUR NEEDS

A few years ago we started a blog called The SSD Review, that started another called Technology X, that saw us grow into Essentially Tech Media Corporation, and now we can be found anywhere in the world on any given month. Today, we travel from Canada to the US several times a year and we must stay connected by phone, text and data.  Not such an easy task… My latest scheme was to use just a bit of trickery and invest in a monthly US IPAD data plan which allowed for data, text and voice through Skype or Google Voice, Google Voice also taking just a bit of imagination to get up and running as a Canadian.  Regardless of what people say, GV and Skype aren’t nearly as good when on the move and, well, the IPAD is not a replacement for a phone.

CB_roam2

CANADIAN TALK, TEXT AND DATA RATES

Just as a start, let’s look at the various Bell Mobility US Add On options to achieve our goal of talk, text and data for a week in the US; it would be Las Vegas actually during CES from which we just returned. As we are a business, technically we need to look at their business options listed below.  Looking at typical consumer options, we could get a talk and text for an additional $30 which gives us 100 minutes of talk, 1000 minutes outgoing texts and unlimited incoming text.  Once you go over the 100 minutes, each additional minute would be tacked on at .50/min.  I don’t know about your better half but mine is also my business partner and two of her calls exceeds that 100 minutes by a leap.  Data is our next goal.  Check out Bell Business Rates  where they list pricing at $6/MB, leaving us with that incredible data only total of $1920 I spoke of earlier  Really?  How do they get away with this?  If you want to see how this would stack up with your carrier, check out their up to date Comparison Overview.

ROAM MOBILITY TALK, TEXT AND DATA RATES

I have already stated that our cost for a week of US unlimited talk, unlimited text, 2GB of data, for calls to Canada, tethering and voice mail cost would be $27.  If you carry a Samsung Galaxy Note II as I, and end up using it as a GPS or even tethering to your IPAD, that 2GB of data is a very comfortable feeling.  This was the first time EVER in the US that I was able to have the above features and not monitor my data closely.  Roam Mobility rates can be found here.  Rates alone aren’t all Roam offers, however, as Roam has to be the only place you can still buy a phone for $50 with the SIM card included and no additional fees.

Plans

GETTING STARTED WITH ROAM

As with any company, Roam Mobility is not without its hitches, however, the most important thing to remember is that money, in this case, is not one of those hitches.  They will save you tons.  You do need to have an unlocked phone though which may cost you up to $50 to unlock in some cases, this being a one time fee.  There is, of course an alternative to purchase one of their phones.  Next up is the purchase of a SIM card which will run you $10 and can be purchased at several local stores or even Futureshop.  From there, you set up your account at Roam Mobility, purchase your plan and even set a time and date to turn it on.  Once in the US, switch over SIM cards and follow their simple set up instructions and you have it…unlimited talk, text and lots of data….with free US to Canada calls.

OUR EXPERIENCE FIRST HAND

While at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas last week, two of us stayed connected exclusively with Roam. Roam Mobility uses T-Mobile in the US and we did experience one or two intermittent data drops but we believe these the results of building size, rather than carrier.  They were very quick drops in taxi, all non-repetitive and service was back almost immediately.  As far as data speed, T-Mobile is the fastest in the US right now, and although we never hit LTE speeds, we also never felt anything slower than we would normally experience in a 3G environment.  I remember commenting on how quickly a video had uploaded at Margaritaville after the mermaid just went for a dip into during our meal.

ROAM

FINAL THOUGHTS

Right now, there are only two negatives I can think of with respect to the ROAM Mobility case study; the first being that we still have to have different phone numbers for Canada and US travel, and also, there is no access to your US number mailbox when the account is not active.  It would be a huge plus for that mailbox to be active on return to Canada between activations.

On the plus side, there is absolutely no cheaper, more reliable and better way to travel the US today if you are a Canadian.  To be 100% honest, Roam Mobility did set me up with the card and plan for this report, however, that simple $35 would never had merited this report if it wasn’t deserving of such.  Anyone who knows me knows I say it like it is regardless. Today, our US IPAD data account was canceled as was our Skype phone number, both monthly costs which will exceed that of this choice 10 times over, not to mention the tens of thousands saved in roaming and data charges we would save annually.

NEW CELL RULES IN CANADA

In doing a quick one over of the Roam Mobility website, we also found something particularly interesting that all should be aware of:

New Code

Roam Mobility is one of the very few that we almost wish we could award with something higher than our Editor’s Choice.  It is finally great to see a company that is there for the people more than just its own business success.

Editors Choice-TechX copy Opt

I just returned from a week in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show, checked my data usage and compared it to what it would have cost with any Canadian company at a low (NOT!) $6/MB for data.  Considering the fact that I had used 320MB of data, the price tag with my provider, Bell, would have been a whopping $1920 for that data alone.  Talked into Roam Mobility for the week, unlimited US talk, free Canadian calls without roaming fees, unlimited international text, 2GB of high-speed data, tethering and voicemail cost me all of $27.95 CDN.  Forgive my rant…

Review Overview

SIM and Plan Pricing
Ease of Installation
Data Strength
Cell Reliability
Likelihood To Return

Editor's Choice!

Combatting Canadian Cell rate robbery abroad, Roam Mobility is the ONLy choice for Canadians travelling in the US today.

User Rating: 2.86 ( 4 votes)
  • yuprules

    It is important to remember that Roam Mobility uses T-mobile which is 1700mhz in most of the United States, so you’ll be stuck at 2G speeds. Only 40 major cities (including Las Vegas) has been upgraded to 1900mhz, the rest of the United States is 1700mhz so be prepared for 2G speeds if you don’t own a 1700mhz unlocked phone.

    • Point taken…but it is the only option. There is no other that can come even close to the price. We have now used ROAM in NYC, and California from SanJose to Dan Fran and up to Folsom… It is amazing having unlimited voice, test and practically unlimited data the entire time for under 30 pieces.

  • Ildar T

    Trip from Toronto
    to Pittsburgh

    You got what you paid for !!!

    I am rating Roam as average it did not meet
    my expectations on a 3 day travel to Pittsburgh,
    and here is why:

    Data / Internet speeds

    On the site they advertise “If you have a
    device that supports the 1700/2100MHz bands you will be able to get 3G/4G in
    most places we offer service” and “The data speeds you’re able to achieve will
    depend in part on the type of device you use to access the Roam network. If
    you’re using a 4G device, you can expect speeds up to 42 Mbps”

    Well, I used HTC One M7 from Telus
    (unlocked) and the only place I got HSPA+ at the boarder – Peace Bridge.
    All along the Hwy I-90 and I-76 there was EDGE (up to 237kbit/s) and in some
    places GPRS (up to115 kbit/s) which was barely enough for Waze Navigation,
    Google Maps were unable to launch navigation with this speed. Reception was
    spotty and phone lost signal (for about 5 min) from 5 to 10 times along the
    way.

    Situation was different inside Pittsburgh, I was able to
    get 3G (I guess HSPA 14.4Mbit/s up and 5.8Mbit/s down) anywhere in downtown
    area.

    Voice / phone reception

    I can say voice reception is better than
    their data speed, yes it was spotty too and did not work at all inside our
    hotel, but anywhere outside I had not problem with it. Voice quality was good,
    I made overall about 10 calls and none of them were interrupted, with static or
    dropped. I did get one call for another person, most likely previous owner of
    this number though.

    Conclusion:

    If you are going for a vacation trip up to
    one week duration, and you need a phone mostly for emergency and some fun (post
    pics, use What’s Up and SMS est.) not urgent stuff, I recommend Roam, but if
    you go for a business trip and you have to be connected and reachable at all
    times – definitely not.

    • Sorry to hear of your experience IIdar, especially since it is my ‘go-to’ in the US for all my business travel now, which is pretty significant.

  • Gary Head

    I must give the Roammobility card a 1 out of 5 for my trip to the states. First of all Rogers sold me the card when they knew I had a Rogers LOCKED phone. The sim card wouldn’t work until I had to call Rogers Cellular from Spokane and try and explain to them what was going on. They unlocked my phone to the tune of $50. I am riding a motorcycle so I don’t stay on the well travelled freeways and the urban centers. I found that the sim card was worthless on most of the roads through the western US that I travelled. I give the card a one because i was able to use it in Denver. Other than that, it was pretty much worthless to me.
    I see if you were going to a center with a large population that it would work, but all this coupled with the fact that I have a Blackberry put me right off. I wont be doing this again.
    The coverage is spotty at best. So beware.

    • Thanks for the comment Gary. I, as well, have a Blackberry and will be using it for the first time at the end of the month with the card. I don’t think you can blame ROAM for your locked phone problem though; just a set of unfortunate circumstances.

  • Big Ed

    I’m about to use Roam for an upcoming trip to Portland, and I must say I feel slightly duped. Their packaging and everwhere on the website says Blazing Fast 4G data, but once you activate the SIM card you find they want an “Upgrade fee” for 4G. OK, it’s only $2, but I feel it’s a bit of bait and switch going on there. After that minor bit of larceny, they’d better be good, as I don’t think they are entirely ethical.

    • In the last month I have travelled to NYC and then SanJose California and was shocked at the fact that 4GLTE was the speed for the majority of the time. In driving to NYC from Niagara, we hit 4GLTE in Buffalo, Syracuse and New York but in San Jose, it was also 4G as we drove down the coast to Santa Cruz.

      They are not complete 4GLTE US covergae yet but great step up IMO.

  • Quila

    I’ve used Roam for a couple times in the last six months, both on the east and west coasts of USA. They’re ok and when you consider the cost savings from buying a roaming package from a Canadian cell company, they’re pretty good.

    They upgraded my SIM to 4G while I was in the Washington, DC in July. They sent me an email saying there would be a short service disruption for about an hour. I didn’t have any service for about a day before the planned upgrade and after the upgrade, my phone number had been changed. Today, almost four weeks later, I got a response to my email support request that basically just says they’re busy because of the 4G upgrade.

    It would have been nice to know in advance that my number was going to change. I had given it out to a lot of people who needed to be able to reach me. Their website says that as long as you top up at least once a year, you keep the same number. Nowhere does it say that the number may change at any time.

    The service worked in most of the cities I was in and along a lot of the busier interstate highways. Whenever I got off the beaten path, there was no signal. When the service works, it works well. When it doesn’t, good luck getting any support.

  • Jeff Rimlenin

    I bought Roam Mobility SIM and went to Chicago for week. Their SIM didn’t work and despite 4 calls to RM tech support (each with up to 30 min wait) they couldn’t do anything at all. Came back to Canada and requested a refund – no response whatsoever. Buyers beware!

    • That is odd. We just returned from a car trip to the US with two phones on ROAM and a IPAD. Although we didn’t get data in remote areas, for the most part we were very successful in its use, tethering and using it for a hotspot. We traveled through New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, California, Oregon, Washington and then back through Canada. Although there were very few times that we had no connection whatsoever, remote areas always seemed to be phone only with the major cities being 4G LTE. We did nt travel directly into Chicago but did travel through Illinois.

  • I will NEVER deal with these people again. Their customer service is horrid and they are an unethical company to deal with. They cheated me of money when a service didn’t work as advertised, and ignored my request for a legitimate refund. They even totally ignored a BBB complaint. If you deal with this company, expect nothing in return if you run into difficulties later on.

    • J Tremont

      Similar experience. They took my money for services not rendered.

  • Serge Bouffard

    I bought a 7 day plan and I had problem with data every day, some days, it didn’t work at all. Had to call customer service every day, wait for an hour or more on the line instead of enjoying my vacations but they couldn’t fix my problem or they could… until the next day. Asked for a refund but they never responded. During the trip, they apologized and offered me an extension of my plan which was to continue AFTER I was back home! Do not try this company!

  • J Tremont

    This is NOT a good organization. However, if you trave in the USA, they piggyback on TMobile and provide much better roaming rates than most Canadian carriers. I know Rogers has upped their game to allow for cheaper roaming. I would seriously consider any viable option, including the purchase of a Tmbile package at Walmart USA. Why? Because no matter how good a deal sounds ON PAPER, its value depends on the execution of the value proposition.

    The ROAM customer service capability is heinous. The coverage is poor, the setup is cludgy and often does not work, and I was constantly trying to get support. I was not productive with this solution, but kept trying to make it work due to cost. But even worse is what happens if you want to top up (buy days) and you forgot to do it online at your desktop before leaving. Maybe you wanted to time the service with your actual entry to the USA? Well folks, dialing for support is painful. Several times, I waited so long I am not even sure the line was staffed. To add insult, they now charge you MORE for the pleasure of calling in to top up. Ever heard of such a thing? If you try to use their mobile site to top up, it often hangs. And even though they are supposed to send you a email to confirm that the service acquisition has gone through, the last time I used it, no emails came. THEREFORE, I kept trying. I also called, but wasted 20 minutes. Finally, I just crossed the border.

    Result? I paid several times for the SAME DAYS of travel in the USA, and (thinking it hadn’t worked) did NOT attempt to use the service. Instead, I bought a Tmobile phone on that trip. When I saw the ROAM charges, multiple times over for the SAME DAYS using the SAME SIMM card…plus no minutes were used on those days…I thought they would happily refund me. After all, it was clearly a duplicate order. And, I’d spent hundreds of dollars with them and was a good customer.

    No way folks. Despite my repeated clarification, the customer service person phrased the occurance incorrectly. He said “you bought some extra days and did not use them all”. NO sir: I was unaware you had procesed my order once, let alone twice, and did not use a SINGLE minute. Besides you cannot pay for the same day twice, can you? He placed a case number in the system, clearly not intending to be helpful. It’s about 6 months later. Do you think they’ll call?

    Do you think I’ll ever use them again?

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