Roaming Like Home: Big on Convenience, on Value Not So Much

This week Koodo finally joined the ranks of other Canadian carriers in offering its own “roam like home” service; for a daily charge of either $7 or $10 CAD you can access your data bucket in the USA or the rest of the world. And while its uninspired moniker, Easy Roam, isn’t so impressive, the list of supported countries definitely is. Plus you can sign up for the service via SMS, like I did above.

I know what you’re thinking: I must really feel like an loser owning this dog of a dual SIM phone, right? I mean, what a waste of money that thing turned out to be! Yeah, not so much…

Let’s do some math on my upcoming winter vacation, to (big surprise) Hong Kong and Japan. We’ll be going to Osaka first and spending 9 nights there. Using Easy Roam for those 9 nights would cost my girlfriend and I $90 each, or $180 for the both of us. With local taxes that comes to a total of $203.40 CAD. But if we rent a WiFi hotspot like we’ve done in the past, we would instead pay only $134 USD, or about $167 CAD, with no additional taxes (see option 3 here). More importantly, that hotspot rental comes with an extra 9 GB of LTE data to share between us.

Granted, there is the hassle of carrying an extra gadget around and keeping it charged, and also staying within range of it—if we split up on separate shopping trips then only the person with the hotspot will be connected. However, the numbers don’t lie: for two people in this scenario, renting a hotspot is definitely cheaper.

When it comes to Hong Kong there’s no contest. For $118 HKD—the equivalent of just $19 CAD—what I believe to be the world’s best tourist SIM gives each of us 5 GB of LTE data over 8 days. Using Easy Roam for those same 8 days would cost more than 4 times as much!

So why did I even bother activating Easy Roam at all? Convenience, mostly. I can think of at least two additional scenarios where it would come in very handy. The first is transiting through an airport or a layover where there’s no free WiFi. It happens, sometimes. And Easy Roam would come in very handy at a destination where there’s no good local SIM solution—like if we don’t feel like buying a pair of BlackBerries just to use in Bermuda, for example.

It’s great that all six brands of Canada’s Big Three carriers now offer a more affordable way of roaming internationally. Just know that they’re not necessarily the best value when travelling abroad.

Source: Mobile Syrup

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