Bell cuts select United States roaming rates by 50%

Ian Hardy

September 16, 2013 8:54am

Bell announced today that “We heard you.”

For the thousands of customers that travel to the United States, Bell has decided to show its commitment and reduce the cost of international mobile data, voice and text roaming by 50%. The price cut will go into place on September 17th and the reduction impacts the current $50 30-day plan and the $40 30-day plans – these will be cut in half to $25 and $20/month.

The $25 US 30-day Travel Bundle includes:
– 50 talk minutes
– 50 MB of data
– 200 sent text messages
– Unlimited incoming text messages
– $0.25 per additional min.
– $0.50 per additional MB
– $0.15 per additional text message

The $20 US 30-day Travel Add-ons gives customers the option to choose between various data, voice or texting buckets for $20 each: 100 MB of data, or 100 minutes of voice calling, or unlimited incoming and sent texts (extra data usage is $0.20 per/MB and $0.20/ minute for voice calls).

Wade Oosterman, President of Bell Mobility, stated “we’re starting with the most popular destination, and Bell is committed to working with our global telecom partners to further reduce international roaming costs for our customers.”

The CRTC was “made aware of concerns” about the cost of roaming and are in the process of looking into US roaming rates. They’ve mandated all carriers produce ‘information that is not publicly available’ about their roaming rates, agreements and revenue from 2007 to 2012 by September 27th.

Source: Bell

  • Jeff Slater

    That’s convenient, I’m going down in just over a week.

    • Tony Sarju

      It’s still not worth it. You can get unlimited calling/SMS in USA/back to Canada + 200MB of data for 3 days for $12+tax. For 7 days it’s $28 with 700MB of data. This is with using Roam Mobility. All you need is for your phone to be unlocked and a one-time purchase of a SIM.

    • Jeff Slater

      Yeah, I’ve looked at that sort of a solution for when I travel in the future, since I’ll be picking up an unlocked 5s next month… but for the time being, my phone is locked, so I’m a little SOL.

    • Tony Sarju

      I hear ya. But it’s definitely worth getting for travel once you have an unlocked device. And I made a mistake in my previous post, it’s actually 300MB of data for the 3-day plan.

      Have a good trip!

    • Jeff Slater

      Sadly, I’ll probably have to get an AT&T SIM to get anything near functional service in the US – I’m usually in Vermont when I travel, and they’re the only carrier with anything of value up there. Not sure what network Roam uses, but their coverage looks REALLY spotty in Vermont as well.


    • Tony Sarju

      Roam uses T-Mobile’s network.

    • Jeff Slater

      Yeah, their service is non-existent in Vermont. :/ Oh well.

    • Paul Branchaud

      It’s spotty in Vermont. Calls and texts aren’t too bad, but mobile data is dodgy unless you’re in a city.

    • gomez

      yes but for most people they want to use there own, phone, these rates arent bad,

    • Tony Sarju

      I’m assuming you meant they want to use their native SIM, rather than phone?

      Most people just aren’t educated. The Bell rates are still terrible for what you’re paying. I believe most people would go with a far more cost effective solution rather than paying more for the sake of having their Canadian number active while roaming.

    • ToniCipriani

      Or if you manage to score a used US SIM, think the SIM Swap program still on.

    • It’s Me

      Still expensive, but it’s amazing what a little public shaming and the risk of their margins being leaked can do.

  • Aidolon

    That’s still embarrassingly terrible though.

    T-Mobile has a $3/day prepaid plan for unlimited talk, unlimited text, and unlimited data at 3G speeds (first 200MB/day at full 4G speed). If you’re not using data much, there’s also a $2 plan which allows unlimited 2G data.

    • Tom

      Agreed, I use it and it has great value. Not so good for those who don’t own a phone that has AWS though (I have a pentaband Nexus 4 so it’s ok for me). Still, I’d rather have unlimited data at EDGE speeds for $2-3/day than to pay top dollar for 3G roaming.

      Honestly, Robellus can charge whatever they want for roaming – if in return they sell every phone unlocked, or at the very least allow free unlocking after 90 days in good standing. Unlock codes are mostly inexpensive, but too many people don’t know how to get them for the best price…

    • le10017

      I’m all over this as well. got my tmobile sim card sitting in my car when needed. There’s a $10 admin charge to get the SIM, and needs to be recharged every 3 months i think. In the end, at minimum, you spend $10 every 3 months to keep the account active. Well worth the cross border shopping. 🙂

    • Aidolon

      Absolutely worth it. I usually lend my T-Mo SIM to friends travelling to the US; they get cheap coverage, and I get to ensure it stays activated. The period seems to be a bit longer than 90 days now though – I last used it at the end of March, and it worked fine for a friend at the end of August.

      Also small addendum to my initial post – T-Mobile is a great choice for urban destinations… If you’re planning on going into more rural areas, then you’ll probably have much less success.

    • ArberBeq

      well $20 for 30 day unlimited texting in the US is actually a good price considering you can use your same number

    • Justin Crowley

      i use the exact same plan!
      its perfect

  • Vik

    Still long way from:

    Europe Lays Out Its Most Ambitious Reform Plan Yet: No More Roaming Premiums, Enforced Net Neutrality, And More

  • sicsicpuppy

    50MB for $25 for 30 days ……i use 50MB in the time i finish sneezing .Thanks Bell ,so generous

  • disqus_MqVee22bBX

    Such a joke. If Bell doesn’t think Canadians can’t see through this, then they’re dumber than I thought

  • caanda45

    Unlocked device…..I never ever will use Bell or Rogers or Telus for US/World travel…never.

  • Jason Keirstead

    The price is still very high, but what people need to understand is the costs of roaming on other carriers are not dictated totally by Bell – they are dictated by the other carriers. ATT charges Bell a lot of money when you roam on their network so they need to be able to pass the cost on. I still suspect they have a very large profit margin, but anyone who expects roaming rates even double the cost of local is dreaming – more like 10x minimum.

    If you don’t like it, then buy a US SIM card like others have said. This is what I always do.

    • Paul Branchaud

      When you compare the difference in price between a service like Roam or Telgo with what Rogers and Bell are offering, you get an idea of just how much of a margin they’re making.

    • Jason Keirstead

      Roam is reselling T-Mobile. Bell roams on ATT. They are apples and oranges you can’t really compare them.

      Bell does not roam on T-Mobile because if they did their customers would have very poor coverage in many parts of the USA because their phones run on different bands – this is something you need to be aware of when buying a T mobile SIM, if your phone is not pentaband (unlikely for most) you need to be aware if the city you are going to has T-Mobile HSPA or LTE rolled out compatible with your phone – because it is getting more widespread but it is still far from idea coverage.

    • Paul Branchaud

      Rogers roams on ATT as well. I have had no issues with T-Mo on my unlocked Rogers device (which is now collecting dust, since I have the Nexus 4). Unless I am missing your point; does Bell still sell phones tied to a specific band? I usually check with Roam’s coverage chart before I travel, but other than some dead spots in the mountains of Vermont, I have had no issues with Roam when I travel to the US.

    • Jason Keirstead

      The coverage chart is referring to if you have an AWS phone or a pentaband phone. If you are running say the Galaxy S4 and you use Roam or T-mobile, you will have a lot of 3G blackout zones. In fact, outside of the major urban areas you will have only 2G pretty much everywhere. Even inside many urban areas you will still drop to 2G fairly often because not all towers are rolled out yet – after all they only got these frequences in late 2011.

    • Paul Branchaud

      Interesting. Thanks for the knowledge. I did not know that. Before I discovered Roam, I’d watch my minutes/texts/data like a hawk. I had never considered the speed difference when I started using Roam; I just was able to breathe easy that I could check my email and not begin some fear sweats.

    • TechToyz

      You can patch your Galaxy S4 to enable the AWS bands. I did it with my TELUS Galaxy S4, and use it on T-Mobile when I cross the border. I don’t get LTE, but I do get 4G (HSPA). I found a thread on XDA which explains the process.

    • It’s Me

      I go to the US a couple times a year and have never had them refuse to sign me up for a prepaid line. Verizon is a unique case, because they are CDMA they need to authorize your phone on their network and for some reason they don’t like outsiders phones on their network…they are just turning away free money from travelers.

      AT&T and TMobile and their prepaid brands have always been willing to sell prepaid to me and my family/friends.

  • Mayoo

    50MB of data? 1$ / MB. Oh lawlz.

  • Paul Branchaud

    Interesting that there’s no pricing on long distance. Think that the calls back to Canada, or even outside of your current area code are included in those piddly minutes they’re offering? Rogers have been busy sending me emails about their better pricing options for travelers. Too little, WAY too late. Roam Mobility is the way to go. I originally bought one SIM, I have since picked up their Breeze phone so I have a second US-based number for those times I might not have an unlocked phone. Memo to Bell and Rogers about your roaming packages: no matter how deeply you discount a turd, in the end, it’s still a turd.

  • David

    They have now been upgraded to ‘crazy stupid’ expensive from the previously ‘ridiculously insanely’ expensive. This should keep CRTC off their backs.

  • Skazzberry 2.0

    Just use a T-Mobile sim for prepaid $2 / day for 2g or $3 / day for 4G. Unlimited everything. Still better than any roaming plan we have.

    • Paul Branchaud

      But, as pointed out in someone else’s comments, you need to spend $10 every 3 months to keep the account active. Roam requires only $3 every year if you don’t travel frequently.

      This was the problem I had with p-a-y-g services from US providers: you have to keep the account active to maintain the number. I travel to the US just enough to keep my Roam number active without worrying about losing the number (which would require a new SIM if ever I did let it lapse for more than a year)

    • jonnny

      with t mobile if you buy $100 of credit it lasts a year, not just a month.

    • Paul Branchaud

      Ah… Difference maker, that. But for short, infrequent visits, $100 might be too rich for some folks. I’ll stick with Roam to get my free calls back to Canada. 😉

  • gabby ybanez

    These roaming ‘deals’ are a total rip-off. I bought myself a t-mobile sim for $10 and pay $3/day pre-paid for unlimited everything. considering the longest i’ve stayed in the US is a week, that’s only $21 for the entire trip. and i only have to top up every 6 months to keep the sim card active.

    No matter where you go, going pre-paid with a local carrier is always cheaper than paying for roaming.

    • Paul Branchaud

      The T-Mobile pay by the day option is tempting and very hard to beat. The only limitation, compared to what Roam Mobility offers, is that the unlimited calling is within the US only. Roam offers calls back to Canada as well in their plans. T-Mo offers MMS, whereas Roam is limited to SMS only. If you don’t plan on calling Canada at any point, then T-Mo’s the way to go. Either way, there is no need to allow any of the Canadian carriers to gouge you when you travel to the US.

  • Justin Crowley

    when i go to the states i connect to tmobile, for $3 a day i get unlimited calling/text (within us) and unlimited data (first 200MB a day up to 4G speeds perfect for short trips

  • OldEnough to know better

    ‘Bell announced today that “We heard you.” ‘
    Amazing what a little outsider pressure can do to improve Bell’s hearing!

    • gomez

      too bad bell cant reduce there montly rates by 50 percent off

    • OldEnough to know better

      It could (well, maybe not 50%) if there was enough outsider pressure.
      But: us Canucks are too docile: we (most of us at least) just take whatever we’re given.
      And then there are those of us who have great plans from WIND Mobile.
      That’s why we’re smiling.

  • Brigitte Laskowski

    Gee, Wind Mobile gives me $0.20 a minute without roaming fees in the US and I can get it even lower for $10 extra month. Bell, you’re still missing the boat. Glad I am on Wind.

  • Brigitte Laskowski

    When the end of December comes, I am getting my Samsung Galaxy S4 unlocked so that when I vist the US, it will only coste $3 a day for unlimited everything. Of course I won’t be using this for 1 day trips.

    • Josh Brown

      There is a completely free way to unlock the s4. In a hidden menu. Check out xda.

    • Brigitte Laskowski

      Where? And what is the risk of bringing my S4. I am on Wind Mobile a Canadian mobile company.

    • Günter Schwarz

      I’d personally just pay the 20$ from mobileincanada or a similar site to have it unlocked over any method requiring rooting and flashing if you don’t know much about it.

    • Josh Brown

      Does not require root it takes 2 min to do it I would post a link but it would get blocked search on xda for free unlock for s4.

    • Josh Brown

      Just search free unlock for s4 on xda. It does not require root. I have done it on my note 2 and my wifes s4.

  • Rhett H

    That data roaming is bloody embarrassing. 100MB will not even last a week for even the most frivolous user.

    • gomez

      depends not everyone is streaming video

  • Dave

    They smell the competition on September 17, the day that new companies will arrive in Canada

  • Carl Hall

    its a step in the right direction, lets hope the CRTC sees right through this attempt

  • Jesse

    Nice to see that they are starting to decrease the prices.. However I will still stick to using my T-Mobile sim with $3 dollars a day, you still save a lot more with it and get a big bang for your buck! Plus now that they have LTE in more places is a bonus too with 200 MB’s a day I think then its throttled if I remember correctly that is?

    • Tom

      TMo doesn’t allow LTE access on prepaid. Hard to complain though.

      Yes it is unlimited data – you simply get throttled after 200 MB (resets every 24 hours).

      And yes, unlocking your phone and using a TMo prepaid plan is waaaaay better value than any of these roaming plans. Even if you were to pay international calling rates to call home from the TMo prepaid number, it’d be cheaper than calling home from your own number while roaming. And of course, unlimited data, talk, and text!

    • Jesse

      T mobile actually does let you use LTE on there pre-paid I’ve already used it on 4 visits this year with my iPhone 5!

    • Tom

      Oh wow I must’ve been travelling to areas without LTE then. Nice to hear!

    • Jesse

      The first time I used my iPhone 5 in Vegas though it didn’t hook up to LTE until I downloaded the carrier update

  • No1B4Me

    Too bad all their customers already went to Verizon. Oh wait!

  • Brigitte Laskowski

    Update: +Wind Mobile crushes all other Canadian US Roaming deals with their Flat Fee US Roaming AddOn of $15 a month which is abailable to all Wind customers on a mobile plan of $35 or higher except for their $60 monthly plan because the US Roaming AddOn is already included. Take that +Bell!