Perpetual West helps small businesses get the most out of leading cloud apps. In order to do that however, you need to be connected. In Canada, being connected is not usually an issue given the mobile networks that we have. However, getting data while travelling outside of Canada has often been a different story. With the news out this week that mobile carriers in Canada are being regulated so that their policies are more in line with carriers in Europe and the US, it reminded me of the ongoing headaches and costs of getting data on your smartphone while travelling. If you’re a customer of the big 3 (Telus, Rogers or Bell) and you’ve crossed the border recently, you’re aware of the friendly texts reminding you of the roaming charges. In the worst case scenario, that reminder comes on your bill 30 days later. In light of these changes, here are a few options you may want to consider:
- Do nothing. Thankfully with the new CRTC rules, there will be less bill shock (international roaming charges are capped at $100/month for any new contract signed after Dec 2, 2013). However, with your regular carriers you can still pay a premium for the convenience of leaving your SIM card installed. It’s nice to keep the same phone number and maybe add a data package good for 30 days but those packages are expensive for what you get.
- Disable data roaming on your smartphone and use WiFi. This is easily done on your Android or iPhone smartphones. If you’re not sure how to disable data roaming for your model of phone, just Google it and you’ll find a ton of resources on how to do this. If you disable data roaming on your smartphone, take advantage of free WiFi in hotels and restaurants. Depending where you are, it may be enough to get by. I did exactly that on a recent trip to New York City. In fact, I pulled the SIM card completely out of my smartphone to be sure I did not receive any texts or calls while I was on holidays. I was able to save Google Maps while at the hotel and use the GPS all while offline.
- Get a prepaid SIM card from a US carrier. If you’re going to the US, consider stopping by an AT&T or T-Mobile dealer (as both those carriers use GSM networks like the big 3 in Canada) to get a prepaid SIM card. It is important to note that you will get a US number however calls to and from Canada will likely count as long distance. These plans are also more favorable for talk and text and not usually data so look closely at the data rates.
- Get a prepaid SIM card from a provider like RoamMobility. For those travelling to the US a fair bit, Roam Mobility’s offering makes a lot of sense. If you don’t want the hassle of having to stop and buy a US prepaid card once you land in the US, consider Roam Mobility. You simply buy the SIM card in advance from them with the plan you want and they ship it to you. Just swap the Canadian carrier SIM card when you land with Roam Mobility’s SIM card and you’re all set. I especially like the data only card offerings they provide. If you use a VOIP service like RingCentral, you can simply use their app and the corresponding data to make calls. Refer to the smartphone section of Take Your RingCentral Business Phone on the Road or RingCentral + Your Smartphone = Balance Work and Personal Life With One Phone Number for examples of the freedom that VOIP offers.
- Get a prepaid SIM card from a provider like Keepgo. For international travel, Keepgo is similar to Roam Mobility however it’s for everywhere else you might be travelling and is only for data. You choose your travel dates, your destination country (or get a global SIM card if you’re going on a large trek) and your data plan and they ship you the SIM card. It becomes active on the date that you select. If you’re travelling to countries where the destination language is not your first, I believe this is your best option. Technically, you could get a prepaid card in the destination country but there are always logistical issues. I tried doing this in Honduras a couple years ago and never did manage to get my phone working. My spanish is OK but not good enough. I like the idea of having things in order before I ever get on the plane so I know when I land, I can just insert the SIM card and connect and enjoy the trip…no stress.
It’s important to mention that to use any prepaid SIM card, your phone must be unlocked. If you’re unsure whether your phone is unlocked or not, talk to your carrier. With the new CRTC rules, you can have your smartphone unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if it’s paid in full. Know your rights and don’t let your carrier abuse them!
Do you have questions about how your business can work in the cloud?
Contact Perpetual West today at 1 (877) 388-6400 to learn how we can help you work from anywhere with cloud applications that fit your needs.