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Thread: Roam Mobility - LTE FTW

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    Post Roam Mobility - LTE FTW

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    There's been a fair amount of blowback on these forums in regards to Roam Mobility's migration to LTE data. If you didn't know, users have had to pay a $1.95 upgrade fee per SIM for LTE access in the U.S.A. And as far as I know, that upgrade is mandatory. Perhaps more contentiously, access to LTE requires that a new phone number be assigned to your Roam Mobility SIM.

    What no one seems to be talking about, however, is the new service itself. I think it's pretty great.

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    During a short hop from YYZ to JFK en route to Australia I put a pair of Roam SIMs into a pair of Nexuses for the girlfriend and myself, and did this speed test as soon as we touched down. It might not be as fast as LTE on our Big Three carriers, but I'd bet anyone on WIND Mobile would be thrilled with an upload number like this.

    Speeds were similarly fast at LAX later that evening, and then again in both LAX and JFK ten days later on the way home. Setting up the SIMs required only two additional steps than before, and unlike before both SIMs were up and running on the very first try:

    1. Enter "roam" as a new Access Point Name (APN)
    2. Enter "310" as the Mobile Country Code (MCC)
    3. Enter "260" as the Mobile Network Code (MNC)
    4. Reboot and enjoy!

    If you couldn't tell from those MCC and MNC codes, you'll be roaming on T-Mobile—same as before.

    My experience with Roam was orders of magnitude better than last April, where service was cheap but data speeds weren't great. Being able to call home and put my fretting mother at ease was an added bonus. Granted, the phone number change isn't an issue for me. Travellers to the U.S. who require a permanent number there might be better served by either a prepaid T-Mobile SIM, Google Voice or a proper SIP line. But before you go for that T-Mobile $3/day SIM, consider that Roam currently gives you more data, albeit at a slightly higher price.

    The other issue with Roam is the expiry of their SIM card—and the phone number associated with it—if you don't use it at least once every 365 days. I actually think that's fair. But the cost of a replacement SIM? Not so much. At $19.95, they're just too pricey; $10 would be a lot more reasonable.

    I'm not sure when I'll find myself south of the border again, but when I do I'll most likely use Roam Mobility. Depending on how long you plan to stay it might end up being more expensive than WIND's ridiculously-cheap U.S. roaming add-on, but for those not on WIND the improved data speeds makes Roam an even better value than before.
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  2. #2
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    When comparing Roam at $3.95 a day vs. T-Mobile at $3 a day, remember that the former is billed in Canadian dollars and the latter in U.S. dollars. Also, a quick look at T-Mobile's prepaid site suggests it doesn't include calling or SMSing back to Canada at that price. SMS to Canada on T-Mobile prepaid is 10 cents per, and calling is an extra charge as well. If you want to stay in touch with people back home, short of using VoIP options (that will drain that smaller T-Mobile data bucket), Roam is cheaper than T-Mobile. Roam's eligibility period is longer than T-Mobile's too, and purchasing as little as one day of service for $1.95 renews your Roam service for another year.

    The only situation where I can see that I would prefer T-Mobile over Roam is if you're in one of the few small areas where T-Mobile doesn't have coverage but has a roaming agreement with a small regional provider. In that rare circumstance, T-Mobile prepaid customers generally would have access to that expanded network, whereas a Roam Mobility customer wouldn't.

    It makes sense that data rates in general would be faster in Canada on our big carriers. They have as much or more spectrum as the big U.S. carriers, and far less congestion on their networks. Rogers in particular has an obscene amount of spectrum, and unlike the U.S. carriers our big carriers operate on pretty much every frequency going. There are also far fewer small regional carriers in Canada, so there's greater concentration of spectrum in fewer hands.

    Thank you for this timely article. I am doing my first trip with Roam in a few weeks and looking forward to trying it out!

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