Cellular unraveled

Ever wonder why most Canadians hate their cellular service providers? Well let me explain a few of the reasons, as you may or may not know as a full timer that spends five months every year in the United States cell phone service is always an expensive obstacle.

For the last two years we have purchased a snowbird plan from ROAM cellular. ROAM cellular was a Canadian provider that sold US coverage for various length plans from 3 days up to 6 months, you would just purchase a SIM card and place it in any unlocked cell phone and presto we had a (US) phone service at a reasonable price. It provided unlimited calling and texting and some data coverage per month, the down side was you could burn through all winters data in the first few months as if you had 5 gigs per month on a five month plan they allowed you to use all 25 gigs the first month. ROAM cellular used T-Mobile towers so coverage was reasonable in most areas, and the cost was approximately $50 Cdn per month, compared to a $70 US per month for a Verizon cellular unlimited* plan, which makes the ROAM cellular plan not a good data based plan but it also didn’t require a contract.

Of course this all was on top of our regular Canadian plan, but as most Canadians know the cellular plans in Canada are very expensive as compared to Americans plans. Now our service provider Rogers cellular does offer US coverage on our plan with a service called “Roam like Home” which allowed the use of our Canadian phones with full use of all coverage for so much a day extra. For some one going on vacation for a week or two it was an easy option, but the rate has now jumped up to $8/day for a maximum of 15 days each month or $120/month (this was $50/month two years ago) figure that over 5 months of usage … ouch! Sure made the ROAM cellular plan look very reasonable, but we were notified in May that ROAM cellular was closing their operations whether totally pandemic related or not it was not good news for us, so we started to look at possibly getting an international phone service, this would allow us to keep just one phone number which would work through all of our travels as opposed to the present Canadian number and an America number.

As I started my research into an international service, most of which seemed to be based out of the States, even the new Verizon plans allow “borderless” service that allows use in Canada and Mexico with full coverage, only hook is that after extended use out of the United States, coverage could be reduced but there is no extra charge for any of this service. Our Canadian plan and coverage has always been driven by data, and while we do share our data over multiple platforms this service is still not very reasonable.

With our present situation, our data usage has reduced and as we shutter our business the calls are reduced drastically, so it is time to reduce some of our cellular costs, and as I was planning on purchasing a “borderless” service when we traveled to the States next, and because of some merging of some service providers in the States there were a couple of plans that would work but it would mean giving up our Canadian numbers, which brings on some issues of its own.

So having made this decision, I recently called our provider here in Canada to reduce our coverage from Rogers cellular, with intention of possibly replacing it totally with an international plan. Most times dealing with cellular providers is a difficult, time consuming task, and they always seem to care less if you stay with them or not, so knowing what I could get by switching Canadian providers I made the call. Thinking there is a fifty / fifty chance that I will have to get a new provider but my research had made me aware that my plan now is available with equal data for less money, the usual problem is that they will tell you that is for new clients only. So expecting very little I was pleased to be told that I could upgrade to an unlimited* plan for less money per month and still share data between devices. So score one for the old guy, and I went on to explain our American coverage issue and the fact that the “Roam like home” coverage had more than doubled in two years, making it an unrealistic option. Then I explained that I was looking for an international plan that would allow us to keep just one number, and not have daily up charges, and that it looked like we would be moving to a US provider in the near future. And to my surprise Rogers has a “borderless” plan, not nearly as good as the American plans, but all of a sudden here was a Canadian provider that has a US/Cdn plan for very close to the same dollars and close to the same coverage. Unlike the US providers these plans aren’t on the website and would be unknown to most people.

So the long and short of this blog is that our Canadian cellular providers can offer lots of options if you just know what questions to ask, but the question is why does the user have to kick and scream to get information on these plans?

So for this winter we will be using our Canadian phones, with our Canadian numbers for less money than our previous Canadian only plan. But I still find it interesting just how different the providers are from either side of the border.

*Unlimited … what a deceiving term … our new plan is a 20 gigabyte unlimited plan. Which means that we get high speed data where available until we reach the 20 gigs then we are throttled. This is different between America and Canadian plans most American plans only throttle your speed on busy towers, or as they explain it your data is prioritized, so after your allotted data you will be prioritized on busy cell towers but still could receive full speed in low usage areas.

So we have our travel insurance, cellular coverage, reservation on a Mexican caravan, all we need know is the border to open at allow us to drive as opposed to flying … just saying.

P.S. Butch tell Miss Betty I just did a quick count and I have over 20 blogs at various stages of completion, so there should be lots of reading shortly.

Please be safe, be well, stay strong, and wear your mask!

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