Roaming is for suckers, according to Roam Mobility. The Canadian company has staked its reputation on providing better service and significantly cheaper rates for customers travelling to the United States, and today is announcing a new range of plans, bundles and add-ons to undercut Canadian carriers even further.
Earlier this month, we told you about Roam’s new LTE network, which uses T-Mobile’s growing footprint in most big cities. The company asks existing customers to pay a one-time upgrade fee of $1.95, and is using these new plans as incentive to do so.
The company now offer three unlimited usage base plans:
- Text + Data: Global texts/MMS, 2G (EDGE) data – $1.95/day
- Talk + Text: US talk, global texts, long-distance to Canada – $2.95/day
- Talk + Text + Data: US talk, global texts/MMS, long-distance to Canada, 2G (EDGE) data, 300MB 4G/LTE data – $3.95/day
The latter two plans are practically identical to what Roam offered yesterday, while the Text+Data plan is new. The main difference throughout is the addition of unlimited 2G data across the States, which assures users at least some form of web connectivity, albeit at a gruellingly slow rate of 128Kbps.
But there will be cost savings for some users: after 14 days of straight usage, all three plans turn wholesale, dropping to just $1 per day. Packages can be purchased in bundles of up to 60 days.
As for the Talk+Text+Data plan, users get a total allotment of data depending on the number of days they pre-purchase: one day nets 300MB, while five days nets 1.5GB, all of which can be used at one time if necessary. It’s a bucket, not a quota, which is different and better than the way T-Mobile doles out its own pre-paid service, which limits visitors to 200MB total. Of course, one can’t pre-pay for multiple days on T-Mobile itself unless one has signed a contract so the distinction is moot.
Roam has also launched two new options for those who may want more data. Data Bolt-ons are for those who don’t want to pre-pay for multiple days just to get more data; the company was finding that, as above, one or two-day travellers were paying for three or four days just to get accumulate more data.
The Data Bolt-ons begin at $5.95 for an extra 300MB of LTE data, rising to $9.95 for 500MB and $14.95 for 1GB. Unfortunately, the prices don’t work out to be cheaper than pre-paying for extra days of service, but the Bolt-ons are meant to be used as one-time top-ups, not necessarily to extend service. The Bolt-on doesn’t expire until its associated plan does, so it may be useful in situations where a user needs extra bandwidth under time constraints.
For those customers who want just data service, Roam continues to have choices between 300MB and 5GB.
- 300MB – 3 days valid, $7.95
- 500MB – 7 days valid, $14.95
- 1GB – 7 days valid, $19.95
- 2GB – 30 days valid, $29.95
- 5GB – 30 days valid, $59.95
While the prices haven’t dropped, the plans now include LTE connectivity which, in many cities, exceeds 20Mbps down and 10Mbps up.
Finally, Roam now allows customers on the Snowbird Plan the option of adding one-month increments, up to six months, to the minimum threes month plan. Snowbird starts at $119.85 for three months of nationwide talk/MMS, global text, 2G data, long-distance to Canada and 3GB of LTE data, and can now be topped up by 1GB allotments at $39.95/month.
Roam Mobility is careful to point out the devices that its LTE plans are compatible with, too. Of course, a smartphone must be unlocked to work at all on Roam’s network, but only a certain number of devices, like the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, Nexus 5, Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, and certain late-model iPhone 5’s, will work with LTE.
The company is certainly doing a lot to make U.S. travel more affordable to Canadians, despite moves by the incumbents to lower costs. Rogers has been doing well with its $7.99/50MB plan, which uses AT&T’s LTE network, but it doesn’t stand up to Roam’s offerings, especially now that T-Mobile has such a strong LTE presence in larger cities. AT&T still has a larger overall LTE footprint, and offers for consistent 3G service in more sparsely-populated areas.
Travellers will still need to purchase a $20 SIM card from Roam’s website or one of its growing number of retail partners (7/11, London Drugs, NCIX, Staples, various Duty Free border stores), which does add to the on-boarding cost, but unlike buying a prepaid T-Mobile card, Roam SIMs don’t expire — ever.