WHERE YOU ROAM

Us­ing your cell­phone for calls, text and data while trav­el­ling can lead to some sur­pris­ing charges when you get home. Here are some ways to en­sure you stay con­nected while con­trol­ling the costs

Investment Executive - - CONTENTS - BY DANNY BRAD­BURY

There are ways to keep cell­phone roam­ing fees un­der con­trol when you travel.

as a fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor, you are a trusted con­fi­dante for your clients and a go-to con­sul­tant in times of trou­ble. When a client needs your help, or when mar­kets take a turn and make a client ner­vous, you must be there to take the call.

But what if you are trav­el­ling at the time — within Canada, south of the bor­der or on a boat in the In­dian Ocean?

Here’s how to cre­ate a per­sonal com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem that will keep you ac­ces­si­ble and re­spon­sive — with­out it cost­ing the earth:

SHORT U.S.-TRIPS

Cana­dian cel­lu­lar net­work ser­vice providers have come a long way in sup­port­ing cus­tomers trav­el­ling over­seas. Most providers of­fer short- or long-term roam­ing op­tions, de­pend­ing on your travel pat­terns. There are many al­ter­na­tive providers in Canada, but we’ll con­cen­trate on the Big Three.

For quick turn­around, Rogers Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc. ( rogers.com) of­fers Roam Like Home, a ser­vice that al­lows sub­scribers to its con­sumer plans to pay $6 a day to use data, text and voice min­utes from their Cana­dian plans while in the U.S.

Sim­i­larly, Telus Corp.’ s( telus.com) Easy Roam plan charges you $7 a day for the same priv­i­lege while you’re in the U.S.

Bell Mo­bil­ity’s ( bell.ca/mo­bil­ity) Roam Bet­ter plan of­fers two ver­sions. One per­mits you to use un­lim­ited calls and texts, along with data from your ex­ist­ing Cana­dian plan, for $6 a day in the U.S. The other ver­sion of­fers un­lim­ited talk and text, but doesn’t use data from your Cana­dian plan. In­stead, you get 100 megabytes (MB) of sep­a­rate data a day, which costs $5 a day for trav­ellers to the U.S.

What if you want to travel for more than a few days? Daily flat-fee charges could get ex­pen­sive. Rogers han­dles this by charg­ing you for Roam Like Home for up to 15 days each month, while still per­mit­ting you to use the ser­vice for more than 15 days.

Other providers pro­vide more per­ma­nent roam­ing op­tions. For ex­am­ple, Telus of­fers a spe­cific ver­sion of its Your Choice plan that of­fers un­lim­ited text and calls to most U.S. and Cana­dian num­bers while trav­el­ling in the U.S., and the se­lected data al­lowance is avail­able in the U.S., too. This op­tion costs $10 more than Telus’ un­lim­ited Canada-only plan.

Bell of­fers a more per­ma­nent U.S. and Canada roam­ing fea­ture at a $10 pre­mium.

TRAV­EL­LING FAR­THER AFIELD

But what if you’re roam­ing far­ther afield? A lot de­pends on where you’re go­ing.

If you’re a Rogers or Telus cus­tomer, you can use Roam Like Home or Easy Roam in more than 100 other coun­tries for $12 a day or $10 a day, re­spec­tively. How­ever, those plans aren’t sup­ported in ev­ery des­ti­na­tion.

Sim­i­larly, Bell’s Roam Bet­ter costs $12 a day in more than 135 in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions if you’re us­ing the ver­sion with the data in­cluded in your ex­ist­ing Cana­dian plan. The ver­sion in which you get 100 MB of sep­a­rate data a day costs $10 a day.

Bell also of­fers monthly passes for des­ti­na­tions other than the U.S., group­ing coun­tries into zones.You can pur­chase a monthly pass that of­fers vary­ing amounts of data or var­i­ous bun­dles of voice, text and data.

Pack­ages such as these can get ex­pen­sive quickly, and if you’re a heavy user, you could end up pay­ing hun­dreds of dol­lars in over­age fees.

CHANGE YOUR SIM CARD

De­pend­ing on your travel plans, you might find us­ing a dif­fer­ent cel­lu­lar ser­vice provider eas­ier and cheaper when trav­el­ling abroad. To do this, you will need to swap out the sub­scriber iden­tity mod­ule (SIM) card in your cell­phone.

Your SIM card con­tains a mi­crochip that iden­ti­fies your cell­phone on a lo­cal net­work and tells the car­rier that owns that net­work which com­pany is your reg­u­lar ser­vice provider. If a cell­phone with a Bell SIM card finds it­self talk­ing to a Ver­i­zon cell tower in the U.S., then Ver­i­zon will know to charge roam­ing fees via your Bell ac­count.

Swap­ping out your SIM card al­lows you to use an­other ser­vice provider in­stead of your own, which en­ables you to take ad­van­tage of bet­ter deals in some places. (A new SIM card means a new cell­phone num­ber, so you should no­tify your con­tacts of the change.)

There are two kinds of al­ter­na­tive SIM cards avail­able. The first is a card from an in­ter­na­tional roam­ing ser­vice provider that of­fers cov­er­age in many coun­tries.

One such provider that sup­ports trav­ellers to the U.S. is Roam Mo­bil­ity Hold­ings Inc. ( roam­mo­bil­ity.com), which of­fers Cana­dian users more va­ri­ety when trav­el­ling in the U.S. You could pay $40 for one gi­ga­byte (GB) of 4G data while in the U.S., along with un­lim­ited video mes­sag­ing, calls and tex­ting. If you go over your data limit, you still can use un­lim­ited 2G data, which op­er­ates at far slower speeds. You may not be able to con­duct a Skype call then, but you still can send and re­ceive emails if you don’t mind the wait. You can buy your SIM card in Canada and sched­ule it to kick in when you ar­rive in the U.S.

If you’re trav­el­ling be­yond the U.S., Knowroam­ing Ltd. ( knowroam­ing.com) of­fers an in­ter­na­tional roam­ing SIM card that op­er­ates in more than 100 coun­tries. Rates vary, but calls to and from Canada while i n Thai­land, for ex­am­ple, would cost 25¢ to 28¢ a minute.

Knowroam­ing of­fers a va­ri­ety of de­vices, in­clud­ing a roam­ing global hot spot. This data-only por­ta­ble hard­ware acts like a Wi-Fi ac­cess point, al­low­ing mul­ti­ple de­vices to con­nect to it wire­lessly. It works in 140 coun­tries and pro­vides un­lim­ited data for US$8 a month. That’s a use­ful ad­di­tion if you’re a data-in­ten­sive ad­vi­sor who likes to check web­sites fre­quently and process a lot of email.

An­other op­tion, a lo­cal pre­paid SIM card pro­vided by a lo­cal car­rier, of­fers a short-term plan on that net­work while in a spe­cific coun­try. For ex­am­ple, T-Mo­bile U.S. Inc. ( t-mo­bile.com) of­fers a “tourist plan” with 1,000 voice min­utes, un­lim­ited texts, up to 2 GB of 4G data and un­lim­ited 2G data. US$30 gets you three weeks of ser­vice.

THE SATEL­LITE OP­TION

If you’re re­ally go­ing off-grid and want to stay in touch, you will need a satel­lite phone.

Cell­phone providers will rent you a unit and charge you far more for a smaller num­ber of calls and texts. For ex­am­ple, Glob­al­star Inc. ( glob­al­star.com) of­fers 125 min­utes a month for $79.99, which equates to 64¢ a minute. That in­creases to 99¢ if you use more min­utes, and you must sign a 12-month con­tract for that plan. Glob­al­star’s low­est-cost en­ter­prise data plan costs 8¢ per 15-sec­ond data ses­sion.

If you want to rely on data alone and use your ex­ist­ing cell­phone, con­sider Thu­raya Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Co.’ s( thu­raya. com) SatSleeve phone dock, which al­lows you to make calls and send and re­ceive data from many lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing while at sea.

Thu­raya’s data plans cost US$7.50 per MB on a pay-as-yougo ba­sis or 10 MB a month at US$59.99 through a con­tract.

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