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Thread: I got MVNO'd

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
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    Canada
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    Rogers
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    I got MVNO'd

    I just got back from a day trip with the wife and kids at the National Museum of Play in Rochester about 2 or 3 hours away. Since it was a day trip we didnít have to do too much prep. Pack some snacks and drinks, bring some books for the kids to read and go.

    Iíve never been to the museum, so I figured Iíd put the address in my phone and go. The plan was to use my pair of Roam mobile SIMs for service while we were down there. My wife and I each have phones we use when weíre in the US. I enable tethering on both so we can message each other or make VOIP calls when we split up.

    Hereís where things went sideways. Shortly after we crossed the border, I realized our Roam SIMs werenít working. Eventually, I realized it was because I selected the wrong time for when our service should start. The Roam website gets you to choose the start time in Pacific Standard Time - I live in Ontario which is in Eastern Standard Time.

    Iíve used Roam many times before and each time I usually remember subtract three but for some reason I forgot to this time. Thatís my fault - opps.

    I called Roam and asked them to fix the start time. Ironically they told me it would take an hour before the SIMs would start working. Basically, thatís when my service was scheduled to start anyways. About 30 minutes later service on one SIM started working. At this point I must segue into Google Maps.

    Since I chose the destination before I crossed the border, the route information was all saved into the phone so fact that I didnít have data didnít mean we couldnít figure out where to go. The only catch is that it wonít know what to do if you go off-route. Google Maps does allow you download maps for offline use, but I forgot to take advantage of this before I left the house.

    Back to the museum, when we arrived only one SIM was active. I called in to ask about this and to Roamís credit, I didnít have to wait long to speak to someone. They told me that the other SIM was scheduled to become active any minute .

    Unfortunately 15 mins later it still didnít work. Long story short, the second SIM never became active. We figured that the 2 SIMs would allow my wife and I to split up so that our 2 kids could explore the museum at their own pace. Instead we had to stick together which made things a great deal more complicated given the age gap between my children.

    To rub salt in my wounds, my second Roam SIM did start working eventually. Only it happened just as we were crossing back to Canada when it was no longer needed. The timing was uncanny.

    Needless to say, I wasnít very happy.

    So what was the point of telling this story?

    First off, while I was very upset with Roam, I understand that this probably wasnít completely their fault. Itís probably indicative of another problem - that theyíre an MVNO and donít own the network I was roaming on.

    Iím guessing that the system that turns my service on was having problems so that only one of my SIMs managed to activate. Since theyíre just reselling service, their ability to troubleshoot problems is very limited.

    I had similar experiences with my home internet. In the past Iíve tried 2 Bell DSL resellers; Acanac and Primus. When they work, they work fine but if any problems come up there isnít much they can do about it. On their end they open up troubleshooting tickets and then have to pray that Bell will do something about it.

    While Bell provides the resellers with SLA (service life agreements), generally all the serious problems I had never got fixed to my satisfaction. Indeed, since Bell is basically forced to sell their service via a reseller, and taking less profit than if I went with them directly, thereís little incentive for them fix things quickly.

    Basically, if it works, great. If no, well, c'est dommage.

    Back to mobile - while I get the feeling that Roamís relationship with T-Mobile (their roaming partner) is a bit more serendipitous than Bellís is with Acanac and Primus, sometimes problems can take longer to resolve than if you went direct.

    Iím not saying that you shouldnít choose Roam. Far from it, they provide a mostly convenient service, plus they allow me to keep my somewhat inexpensive Rogers plan thus avoiding a Share plan. MVNOís in their own way help keep carrier pricing honest plus they give us more choice.

    Just be aware that sometimes it can be a little more inconvenient than you realized.

    Next time I may bring some walkie talkies for backup.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    You indicated it was a day trip, not an overnight trip. One thing that might have resolved this problem was to have started your Roam Mobility plans 24 hours before your return time. If you're not sure exactly what time of day you're returning, start the plan 24 hours before the latest return time you could imagine it stretching to. Instead of having most of the excess time at the end of the trip after your return, this way you'll have it at the beginning of the trip before you arrive so that delays in the plan activating may be resolved before you hit the border.

    You're right that network problems can't be resolved by Roam, but the more time you give them to get your SIM activated the more likely it will be active by the time you need it. You're already paying for that excess time, you might as well be strategic about it. I usually fly to the U.S. so I set my plan to end slightly after the plane is scheduled to leave on the final leg to Canada, which means it's generally active early in the morning (or even the night before) that I leave on my trip.
    Lumia 950 XL dual-SIM -- SIM slot 1: Rogers (small business flex data) -- SIM slot 2: Public Mobile ($120/12GB/90 day plan)

  3. #3
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    Roam mobility has been lack luster for me too. I've been cut off plenty of times before my expiry.

    Then I switched to Know Roaming. Much better! My credit doesn't expire for at least a year and I'm not sure if my sticker ever does. Plus you can roam on AT&T's vastly larger network.

    The only downside is no LTE... But like most Canadians I'll take reliability over speed any day.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by @Class View Post
    Roam mobility has been lack luster for me too. I've been cut off plenty of times before my expiry.

    Then I switched to Know Roaming. Much better! My credit doesn't expire for at least a year and I'm not sure if my sticker ever does. Plus you can roam on AT&T's vastly larger network.[...]
    I think there are advantages for Know Roaming, especially if you're not using a lot of data.

    AT&T's network is no longer vastly larger, though. T-Mobile's stepped up their game hugely in the last year or so, with low-band spectrum, and green-field deployments. In early 2015 their network was a bad joke in rural Washington State for example, but by summer 2015 their network in rural western Washington was nearly the equal of AT&T's in my experience (presuming you're using a device that supports all of T-Mobile's bands, and most especially band 12).

    That said, with Canadian carriers getting cheaper and cheaper for U.S. roaming, the case for Roam Mobility (and for Canadians using T-Mobile prepaid, Cricket, etc.) continues to weaken.

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