Cut the roaming charges on your travels!
When you travel abroad on a business trip, you face problems with your mobile network and wireless Internet plans. If you use the roaming services, in particular for data usage, then it can get expensive. The United States and Europe have progressed significantly in these areas, but Canada is still quite behind in the race.
We must not think that there is not hope. If you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident in Canada, it may be possible for you to use your laptop and mobile phone with ease.
Rogers, one of the biggest wireless carriers in the country, has recently announced a new roaming phone and Wi-Fi packages. It suggests that there will be some affordable options for you to choose from while going on your future trips to foreign countries.
On Tuesday, Rogers announced some new North American One Rate Data plans for data devices. It also includes the Rocket Stick which will let the customers avoid roaming charges when they travel to the United States. The stick is a wireless device that utilizes the USB port of your laptop and picks up cell signals from around your location to make a hotspot.
The stick has been an expensive piece of technology in Canada, and this stayed true until this month. When the roaming charges apply as you travel to the United States, the data charges are $3 to $6 per Megabyte (MB).
The New Internet Packages:
Recently, Rogers announced that it would eliminate the roaming charges, provided you obtain a one – year contract; which is the minimum the company is offering at this stage. You will receive the stick for $49.99 and $45 per month as the service charges and get up to 500MB of data per month. If you use more than the allowed data, your subscription automatically changes to a $60 plan with 1GB of data per month. If you start a three-year contract with Rogers, you will obtain the stick for free.
A User’s Story:
The Internet is in abundance everywhere, especially in the West. With hotspots available at every nook and corner, is it worth investing $60 in the new service? Well, the answer is simple. When you search for free Internet, it takes you some time to obtain one. The following is an example based on the experience of a customer, who used the Rogers’ free roaming service in the United States:
I went to the Miami Beach and started to look for free Wi-Fi. It took me some time to get the signals from the nearest Starbucks Coffee shop, as some of the franchises offer free Wi-Fi to customers with a reward card. In a different locality, I had to stop at various locations, to find Wi-Fi. After 30 minutes of searching, I managed to find a French café that was about to be closed. I had to pay $2.95 for a Palmier as the rent for the table, where I sat to check my email. The staff closed the café after that.
When I decided to use the stick, its benefits immediately dawned on me – I was able to use the Internet freely and check my emails. With the stick and your laptop, you can transform virtually any place into an office.
Indeed, I was able to use the Internet, but the speed was rather slow. So, I decided to go to another café with free Wi-Fi, to compare the rate of the free Wi-Fi with the stick. I used two of the most popular websites for testing the speed of the Internet connection (www.speedtest.net) and (www.speakeasy.net). Over the course of 90 minutes, I realized that the stick was about four times slower than the free Wi-Fi. If the purpose of your Internet usage is checking the email and downloading or attaching files, then the stick will work fine. However, if you need to download something heavy, then it can be problematic.
Should you buy it?
The question remains, “Is it worth it to invest in the stick?” The answer is simple – it depends on your usage. If your work requires you to have an active Internet connection even while traveling, then it is advised to get the stick.
Data packages and Internet have their importance, but the real expensive issue is the voice calls. Sure, there are some packages that different carriers provide, but they are not cheap, either. Luckily, there is a new Vancouver-based company, Roam Mobility, which is the first Canadian company to offer global SIM cards. The global SIMs have less roaming charges (as little as 20 to 40 cents a minute). The service also provides free incoming calls from most of the countries across the globe.
Rushi Raja, a customer who travels for his textile company in Montreal, has been using the Roam service for two months. He used to get SIM cards for the places he frequently visited. The locations include Germany and England. The problem was that the SIM cards would expire after two months or so and he had to obtain new numbers every time he had to travel.
Roam is offering a pay-as-you-go service, which you can top-up online. Now Mr. Raja has only two numbers; a British and a U.S. number, which never expire. He has to receive many calls from the office during traveling, and he used to pay around $400 or $500 per month for that due to the roaming charges. Now, with the advent of Roam Mobility, his mobile phone expense has lowered to almost nothing.
Some problems with the service:
Roam is still in nebulous stages and has some problems. Mr. Raja has not faced any issues yet, but for me, the service did not allow me to call toll-free numbers. I had trouble tracking a late shipment from UPS due to this problem. Furthermore, to obtain free incoming calls, you have to get a British number. The people who call you on that, have to pay the long-distance charges. Out of some calls that I made, around 10 percent never went through.
You can obtain a U.S. number as well, but the incoming calls are not free and cost 20 cents per minute. Another problem that you may face is that, if you are silent for more than 20 seconds (on hold), you receive a message stating that you need to press ‘1’ to maintain the connection. If you decide to press ‘1’ before the message, your call will get disconnected. On two instances, my call disconnected even after I pressed ‘1’ after getting the message.
Roam is working hard to resolve the issues:
According to Mr. Emir Aboulhousn, the CEO of the company, the developers are working hard to resolve these issues. They are also considering adding a Canadian number to the phone. For most of the corporate travelers, the cost is a huge problem and Roam Mobility is already handling this quite well. I traveled for five days and made an average volume of calls. The calls I made also included some hour-long calls in and out, and I just had to pay a meager amount of money ($14). There were some problems too, along with a few irregularities and disconnections. However, everything worked out eventually. Since the prices are so low for this service, so we should not complain. At least we are getting an affordable service that works.
You cannot have it all, as they say – but it is at least something.