Roaming around

I had to learn my lesson the hard way.

The first time I came to Spokane (yes, I’m here right now), I racked up $1,000 in roaming data charges. I was with Bell, lo, those (almost) three years ago. Bell called me on Monday and said ‘um, hey, do you know what you did?’

My stomach lurched, my heart fell and I may have started crying. Bell said, fear not, we’ll reduce it to a one-time charge of $100 but learn your damn lesson. I did. Every time I went to the States thereafter, I bought their $10 per month data roaming plan, under which you pay $1 for every megabyte used.

Yeah, it’s still a ripoff but a bargain compared to the $6/MB I’d pay if it wasn’t for the plan.

Bell has since changed that plan and it’s one of the reasons I ditched them and went with Virgin last spring (yeah, yeah, I know, Virgin is owned by Bell but at least they have the cheapest data roaming plan).

Even with the deal, I’ve been capable of racking up $150 in charges over a few days. Hey, come on, Twitpicking apparently sucks some major data. And Facebook, too.

But wouldn’t you feel a little lost if you weren’t along on my adventures with me and Shep? I mean, after all, I do this for you!

Now enter Roam Mobility. I read the first story about them on Android Central.

For Canadians traveling into the US sometimes the most expensive part of the trip isn’t the airfare or the hotel but instead the roaming fees associated with their data plans. Gone are the days of ridiculous roaming fees on your current carrier, or trying to find a pre-paid data plan to use for the short time you are in the US, and here is Roam Mobility. The idea behind Roam Mobility is quite simple — they want to provide a painless solution for roaming Canadians that gives them access to a fast, reliable network while in the US.


Since I spend a lot of time in the States with My American, I was intrigued. I went to their website. They weren’t quite ready for launch, so I signed up for their notification.

It didn’t take long for them to reach the end of labour and give birth. And boy howdy, did they! Anyone who signed up for the notifications got a free SIM card.

That’s right. It pays to be an early adopter.

So there my free SIM card sat for a couple of months. A new job has somewhat hampered my travelling abilities but now it’s Easter weekend and I have a couple of extra days to relax.

And who the heck wants to put anymore money into the Bell/Virgin bank account? Not this sister.

I’ll go with the upstart startup.

I set up an account and ordered my plan in advance. You can choose from talk+text, talk+text+data, or just data. For three days, it cost me $21.22 on my Visa.

Each day — a single day of talk+text+data costs $7.95 and you get bargains for multiple-day purchases — unlimited talk and text within the U.S. and back to Canada, plus 100 MB of data.

Let’s compare that to the Virgin plan for $10 for a month-long charge, you get to pay an additional $1 MB per megabyte. So for a day, that’s 110 bucks right there. Then add on the roaming charges you’ll have to pay for a text ($.60 per if you don’t buy an additional $10/month plan) and for a phone call ($.95 a minute for a local call, $1.45 for long distance, even back to Canada).

I think we have ourselves a winner, folks.

I crossed the border last night and inserted my Roam Mobility SIM card. I had some issues getting started with data but I used their website chat service and reached the lovely Virginia, who walked me through fixing my APN settings, whatever the heck that means.

I won’t have to wait until I find a WiFi hotspot now. Spokane isn’t quite the point yet where everyone has wireless.

It will probably annoy the hell out of My American because he doesn’t much care for me being engaged while we’re together. I try to respect that as much as I can but, for heaven’s sake, sometimes you guys just gotta see what I’m up to.

And since I’m unleashing myself unto the shopping world tomorrow for the first time since October, you might want to follow along for shits and giggles.

You never know what might happen.


  1. If you got this far, you might have some questions. Like my friend Brad did on Facebook.

    Yes, you have to have an unlocked phone to access Roam’s services. You can do this on your own and not pay Virgin $75. Roam advised me to use a site and I got a code for $20. It’s incredibly easy to do it yourself. You just pop out your provider’s SIM card and put in the Roam card. You will be promoted for the unlock code and away you go.

    When I get back to Canada, I just switch the cards out again and, baboom, I’m on Virgin.

  2. Great article! I’m glad I checked to see if you had done up a blog on Roam! :o) I’m heading down to the U.S. in May and think I’ll see about getting myself a sim card for my Galaxy Note.

    You had mentioned that you can get a talk/text or talk/text/data plan. Can you also get just data? Will you be getting the same plan that you had last time when you go down to the US again?

    I’m not sure what I would make the best use of. I think I might sign up for a Google Voice plan when I’m down there, and if that’s the case, I might be able to get by strictly on data…. lol :o)

    First I’ll have to get my sim card and get my phone unlocked.

    1. Hey Jason,

      I’m actually heading to the States tomorrow for a week. You can get a data-only plan with rates based on MB in bulk. That’s probably what I will do, considering I have a Google Voice account and I really didn’t use my phone that much for calling and texting.

      One note, though, make sure you’re travelling in an area with 3G or 4G network access. Otherwise, your SIM card won’t work. I got caught ont hat trying to use it through Montana where everything is still in the Dark Ages.

      Happy travels!

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