Friday, May 31, 2013

Comms 101

May 31, 2013. Home

Communications are an area of concern for us, given our plans to be away for a whole year. And, much as we want to get away from it all, and explore off the beaten path, we still feel a need, at least from our current perspective, to try and stay attached at least via phone, and when possible, via internet. Especially since I plan to continue to do some work over the interweb while we are away.

There are 1000 different aspects to communications on a boat, and maybe at some point I will write a post about it (once I actually know something about it). At this point, though, I did learn a couple of useful things recently, that should be of interest to any Canadian planning to spend some time travelling in the states (maybe to come visit us?).

First thing – it turns out you don't need to rely on your Canadian cell phone carrier's extortionist phone and data roaming plans to get good access in the states. There are several American companies that will sell you a sim card that you can pop into your unlocked phone, and then you will have a number you can use anywhere in the states. The best cost I found is about 4 bucks per day, but that includes all your calls to anywhere in the US or Canada, plus a lot of data use – more than you will likely use, unless you plan to spend your whole trip watching Netflix on your phone. You can check out the company I am planning to use, called Roam Mobility, here :

BTW, I have absolutely no financial interest in Roam, and haven't used them yet, so can't recommend them other than it looks like a good deal to me. If you do plan to use them, apparently if I refer you, we both get some free days, so let me know.

"But, Scot", you might proclaim, "I don't have an unlocked cell phone! I saved a ton of dough, and bought one with a contract!"

So, here is where I can really save you some money. You can either do what I did, and buy a brand new unlocked cell phone, for much dinero (as they say in Mexican cell phone circles).

Or… and this is where it gets interesting… call your cell phone company, and ask them to unlock your phone.

After spending a bunch of money on a new phone this week, I called my cell company (Rogers) for a completely different reason, and just as an afterthought, I asked them if they would unlock my old phone. I was sure they wouldn't, since I am only 6 months into a 3 year contract, and bought the extremely expensive Iphone 5 at a really cheap price, since they included it with my contract.

Anyway, I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask, so I did. And what do you know – 15 minutes later, I now have an unlocked Iphone 5, which I can use with any carrier, any sim card, anywhere in the world (cost me $50.00 to have it unlocked, but totally worth it.) I wish I'd known this before I bought my new phone. I guess I could return it, but as it turns out, I think it will be nice to have some redundancy in our phones on the boat anyway. At least one of them is pretty likely to end up in the drink at some point.

So, anyway, that is the tip for the day. Call your phone company, and see if they will unlock your phone. It will make it way more valuable, way more versatile, and if you bought it on contract, it will be the cheapest way to get an unlocked phone. In fact, I can't imagine why anyone would pay full price for an unlocked phone directly from the store, ever again.

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