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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Roam Mobility Cheapstravaganza Preppers

Note: Flusher no longer recommends Roam Mobility. They got bought out. I have had some terrible experiences since. The best and easiest thing to do is use your provider's 'roam like home' package for five or six bucks a day. R.F. My American friends have to understand that Canadians have the most expensive cell phone coverage in pretty much the world. And if you take your phone into the USA it is like bending over and sticking your butt in the air and begging the cell phone provider to Mutiny your Bounty.

Without a plan you can get nailed for $1.75 a minutes, $0.75 a text and 1 cent a KB of data. Thats KB not MB. You send ten 1MB pictures and you're looking at $100!!!!

I'd rather be keel-hauled.

Last trip, Mrs. Flusher and I extended our Roger's service to cover roaming in the US for talk, text and data. It cost each of us $60 for talk and text and additional minutes are $0.75 a minute.

On top of that we had to add data coverage. The total cost was over $200 for a 2 week trip.

Our other option was to continue to use our $20 throwaway Flusher Fones from Tracfone. They work well but you have to keep topping up to keep your coverage active and you want phone service the moment you touch down, particularly when you are a (self-) important Internet Blogster like myself.

Good old Rogers helped me out considerably by offering an unlocking service. I availed myself of this and got reamed $50.

Fifty dollars to type something on a computer system and unlock a phone that I'm paying through the nose for.

Well, it would be worth it if I could avoid the roaming the US trap.

And I'm on track to do that.

The fine folks at Roam Mobility are sponsoring the 20th Anniversary Cheapstravaganza trip and providing me with free cell coverage in the US.


Now, I needed to confirm that everything was working properly before heading down south.

I have my Roam SIM card. I've validated it on their site. I went online and bought a 1 day package for $4 for text, phone and data.

All I needed was to find a spot where the US towers could reach, somewhere near Flusherville. I could go across the border but I really didn't want to go to all that hassle.

The problem is, it is extremely difficult to confirm that your phone is really unlocked without using it with another SIM. Sure I could trust Rogers saying that it is unlocked... or I could make sure. I want to be able to tweet, blog, text, talk, surf, route, Facebook, send packets, VPN, APN, and RSVP the very moment I touch down in Vegas. I also want to be able to check out the lastest Flusherettes, assuming there are some by then. And if there aren't, I want to be able to surf some Chivettes instead.

Ok, so I headed out from Flusherville to a place where I thought I'd be able to get a US cell tower in range - Gananoque. It's apparently pronounced 'Gan'.

And actually, I've done this before with Tracfone to keep the phone alive. (With Roam, this won't be needed - your US number stays alive for a year.)

I headed to my trusty US cell parking lot adjacent to the 1000 Islands Playhouse and switched in the Roam SIM I'd bought online. The phone immediately greeted me with a happy message:

NO SERVICE

Great.

But Roam doesn't use the same towers that Tracfone does. So I'd head east. I pulled up to one of those traveller maps on a board and planned my strategy - I'd try to get as close to the town of Alexandria Bay as I could.

More importantly, I needed to eat some Scottish food so I had a McDicken, small fries, and a McLatte (not bad).

For some reason, McDicks is selling something called McLobster. This, to me, sound absolutely abhorrent.

As if the McRib debacle wasn't bad enough.

Do they take lobster leavings like eyestalks or something and grind it up and press it into something the shape of a lobster and deep fryable?

Anyway... having charged up the Flusher neurons and muscle fibers, I headed down the Island Parkway. I felt like a secret spy, eyeing possible locations for my illicit cross-border signal poaching.

I found a couple of secluded spots but it was no good. I drove further, keeping an eye on my phone which still said helpfully:

NO SERVICE

I spotted one of those pull-in places they have and I knew just what to do.

I pulled in. I remained very candle-stein. I checked my phone, without anyone seeing.

And then... a flicker of life. My phone said...

ROAM MOBILITY

Holy hot shit, I had a signal! And just as quickly as it had appeared, the 1 bar of signal fell to 0 bars and I again had

NO SERVICE

But now, I knew at least that it might be possible. I pressed on to the point that I figured was as close as I was going to get to the US and found a place to pull in.

Canucks: Poach US Cell Service in Canada Here!

And my Roam-enabled phone sprang to life! I was greeted with a text message - a very friendly text message, I might add - from the Fine Folks at Roam. And I was able to talk, send and receive messages, and surf as well.

So now I have connectivity for the trip with no hassles and I can use my own knock-off piPhone 3.14s in Vegas.

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