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Ask Slashdot: Mobile Data In Canada For a US Citizen?

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the just-drill-into-a-powerline dept.

Canada 270

macwhizkid writes "I'm traveling to Canada for a week in July with youth group, and need a way to post blog updates on the trip and send back photos. I'll be staying on an island accessible only by boat, so a hard-wired connection is out of the question. I have a Verizon voice + data plan, and I've heard all the horror stories of multi-thousand dollar international data roaming charges. What I'd like to do is get 1-2 GB of data (5 GB would be great) to use on a Canadian provider's network for a reasonable fee (say, less than $100 total) as a wireless hotspot set-up. I have both a CDMA iPhone and a GSM iPad, so I really just need a micro-SIM or a way to register the IMIE. It appears that both Rogers and Bell offer 'pay as you go' data plans (Rogers has a particularly attractive iPad option), but there are conflicting reports as to whether a U.S. credit card can be used to buy service. I can't believe I'm the first U.S. citizen to want mobile data in Canada. So, has anyone done this successfully? Is there another option I'm not considering?"

cancel ×


Visa gift card (2)

statusbar (314703) | about 3 years ago | (#36591062)

Can't you do the same thing as Canadians can do in the U.S.? That is, in your non-native country, go to a 7-11 and purchase a VISA gift card that is preloaded. Use that card to purchase your data plan.


Re:Visa gift card (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591580)

They have 7-11s in Snow Mexico?

US cards are usually good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591068)

I have yet to ever find that Canadian providers will refuse U.S. credit cards.

With Bell and Rogers, you will often get to pay $35 'activation fee' for the honour of being their customer.

Re:US cards are usually good (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 3 years ago | (#36591804)

Contact your bank before you go to Canada, a lot of the time when you try to use it up/down there, they flag your card as stolen.

We don't have the "Internet" in Canada (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591092)

The lakes and rivers are still frozen here and that causes the absorption of all cellular phone frequencies. Our summer, August 13th is the one day we get Internet

Re:We don't have the "Internet" in Canada (1)

grub (11606) | about 3 years ago | (#36591418)

I guess you got in your TARDIS and visited August 13 to post this, EH?

Re:We don't have the "Internet" in Canada (2)

Abstrackt (609015) | about 3 years ago | (#36591828)

Afraid not. Our connection is also really slow, that was posted nearly a year ago. The bits move slower when they're cold, you see.

Re:We don't have the "Internet" in Canada (1)

grub (11606) | about 3 years ago | (#36591860)

I'm in Winnipeg, don't tell me about the cold! :)

Island only accessible by boat.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591100)

..Make sure it has cell network coverage first.

Re:Island only accessible by boat.. (3, Insightful)

BitterOak (537666) | about 3 years ago | (#36591412)

..Make sure it has cell network coverage first.

As a Canadian, I can tell you that unlike the US, cellphone coverage in Canada isn't universal. There are regions where there is simply no coverage. Make sure, before you invest in one of these plans, that there is coverage where you'll be. Probably the first thing you do is talk to some of the islanders and ask what they use. Maybe someone living there will even let you share their wireless!

Re:Island only accessible by boat.. (2)

Mashiki (184564) | about 3 years ago | (#36591444)

Yeah this is pretty much true. You get out of southern ontario, or a few hundred clicks out of any major city in the plains or out east and your cell service is spotty at best. There's just too much of nothing, with no people here. Gotta figure though 70% of our population live within 100mi of the US border which explains where most cell services are.

Why is this a problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591112)

A prepaid plan with Rogers sounds great.

Why do you think this would be a problem?

IIRC, Rogers has retail store locations and they do accept cash, so I can't imagine that they would refuse you if you were carrying some of that funny purple money with the queen on the front.

But then again, why would they refuse your credit card?

If only it worked the other way around. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591116)

I doubt anyone up here in Canada will refuse a U.S. issued credit card.

Unfortunately, this is totally opposite when Canadians are trying to use "Canadian" issued credit cards for purchases in U.S., especially on-line. The fact that all credit card companies are multi-nationals and cross-border apparently makes no difference to most businesses in U.S.

Still, I'd probably would not give Bell or Rogers a dime, being the only games in town and condoned by our sold-out Government. But I guess you got no other choices really. Maybe there's still dial-up available? :)

Re:If only it worked the other way around. (2)

PaulBu (473180) | about 3 years ago | (#36591378)

Canadians are trying to use "Canadian" issued credit cards for purchases in U.S., especially on-line.

I think it also has something to do with Canadian customs, as they are quite serious about requiring you to pay duties on most of the stuff that crosses into Canada, so many on-line merchants decided not to bother figuring out how they can clear their shipment.

Before I joined a Canadian company, I've never heard phrases like "Oh, it should clear Customs Brokers in a day or two"... ;) See, e.g., []

Paul B.

Re:If only it worked the other way around. (1)

reeno49 (1558221) | about 3 years ago | (#36591594)

I've never had an issue using any of my credit cards in the US. I'm not talking close to the boarder, either. I went down to Colorado last spring for a couple of weeks and used nothing but my trusty Visa. No questions asked.

Maple syrup, bacon, .... (1)

dstyle5 (702493) | about 3 years ago | (#36591140)

Tim Horton's gift cards and/or Canadian Tire money should all work fine for you here.

Re:Maple syrup, bacon, .... (2)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#36591310)

Don't forget old porn magazines to trade for beaver pelts.

Dear Americans (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591142)

We're full, fuck off.

Re:Dear Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591324)

Heaven forbid that the Americans visit and spend money in your economy.

They don't need us. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591454)

Heaven forbid that the Americans visit and spend money in your economy.

They don't need us. While we're destroying our economy, being dicks to the rest of the World, treating anyone and everyone coming into the US as criminals, blustering around the World like some big fat, well, American, the Canadians have been creating political and economic ties with the rest of the World and they're doing just fine.

In not too many years, we're going to be to them what Mexico is to us - mark my words.

I need to get in touch with some distant Canadian relatives and see if I can emigrate up there. Ya know, rats - ships ....

Re:They don't need us. (3, Informative)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 3 years ago | (#36591468)

Thanks for that ... honestly ... but as a Canadian I'd like to say you're still willing to come spend what money you have left up here ;-) We're quite grateful for the oil revenues as well.

I'm still waiting for someone down there to notice that our banking system survived the crash, and might be worth imitating instead of bailing out known failures but ymmv.

Re:Dear Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591760)

Pay no attention to that inconsiderate AC. He's not being very Canadian. He didn't even say "please" :-) Also, to suggest "we're full" is rather ridiculous.

Visit any time you like, and move in if you want. We're not unwelcoming and we appreciate the business from our neighbor, friend, and biggest economic partner.

Re:Dear Americans (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | about 3 years ago | (#36591832)

Yeah heh: "we're full, f*** off" is also a sentiment expressed by certain bumper stickers affixed to the cars of bogans (think: rednecks, but with more money) here in Australia.

To call either Australia or Canada 'full', having among the physically largest land areas and lowest population densities in the world, is rather hilarious.*

*Yes there may be environmental restraints on population (particularly Australia, being such a dry continent, will never have enough water to support a huge population), but to equate that with 'full' is a misnomer at best.

Re:Dear Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591460)

Not even close. Please come visit.

Re:Dear Americans (1)

the simurgh (1327825) | about 3 years ago | (#36591802)

who for the love of jesus would want to cross the border with anything that can hold data when the "I'm going to take your notebook for two years and not return border patrol is on the call.

Re:Dear Americans (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 3 years ago | (#36591868)

You sent us Celiene Dion and Justin Beiber. You owe us.

Any RFC 1149 compliant service should do the job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591150)

Next please.

3 Week Vacation in Canada (5, Informative)

michaelwigle (822387) | about 3 years ago | (#36591158)

I'm a Canadian living in Cincinnati and drove home to Edmonton, AB for a few weeks. I called my local cellular provider (Cincinnati Bell) and asked them for an international data roaming feature to be added to my account. There were multiple data caps available. I went for the mid-range and paid $30 per month for, I think, about 5 GB. It was turned on over the phone immediately and I turned it off when I got home by calling them up and telling them to turn it off. I also recommend getting international voice roaming if you are going to do that. Otherwise you can get hit with serious roaming charges just for making or receiving a call Internationally. I figured not a bad expense for the convenience. Hopefully your current cellular provider offers something similar.

Re:3 Week Vacation in Canada (2)

Alan Shutko (5101) | about 3 years ago | (#36591312)

I checked both AT&T and Verizon about a month ago (for a 1-week trip to Edmonton as well). Their offerings were $100/mo for a 200MB cap. Verizon used to have a plan with a 5GB cap for a reasonable price, but discontinued it in January.

$30 for 5 GB????? (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about 3 years ago | (#36591542)

This is better than most Canadians get.

Re:$30 for 5 GB????? (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 3 years ago | (#36591674)

If it's just data, you can get about that on a tablet plan from Telus.... But yeah, for a decent mobile data cap, the carriers pretty much universally suck in this country, unless you're in Toronto, Ottawa, or Calgary and can get Mobilicity.

Re:$30 for 5 GB????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591838)

For all the complaining, Canadians still eat it up and pay for it, so they get what they deserve.

China & Mobile Data Roaming (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591178)

Having visited China in October 2010, from Australia, with a HTC Desire, I found that the 3G did not function in China, as they use their own proprietary version of 3G, and as a consequence I had no roaming data. Standard mobile functions worked fine, though I had a second mobile with a local SIM installed for most of my phone calls, as the roaming charges on my HTC are very expensive. I considered it my backup, to my local mobile. You can buy a Chinese SIM, and have it delivered to you before leaving for China, then pass out the number to friends and family. There are several deals available on the net, but I am pretty sure local data roaming will not function on your Verizon handset in China.

Re:China & Mobile Data Roaming (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | about 3 years ago | (#36591582)

I know some Americans think Canada's basically Communist, but dude, there's still a difference between us and China.

Virgin Mobile (2)

caseih (160668) | about 3 years ago | (#36591194)

If they cover the place where you'll be staying, Virgin Mobile offers a very attractive iPad-only data plan. It's prepaid and costs only $25 for the SIM, and then depending on how much data you want, from $25 to $60 a month.

Re:Virgin Mobile (1)

caseih (160668) | about 3 years ago | (#36591296)

I forgot to give a url. Good thing I looked it up because the details are somewhat different than I remembered. Here's the link: []

It's not exactly prepaid, but more of a non-contract, month-to-month. So I'm not sure how well they can accommodate a non-canadian billing address, but worth talking to them about I think. They will ship the SIM to you, but I'm not sure how you'd go about activating it while still in the US.

Re:Virgin Mobile (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about 3 years ago | (#36591452)

Also relevant: The Map [] .

Good luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591196)

Canadians can't get good cell phone plans for themselves in their own country. I doubt being American will make it any easier for you.

Prepaid 250MB data for $20 (1)

RedACE7500 (904963) | about 3 years ago | (#36591202)

I'm not a Telus customer, but they have an addon for their pre-paid service. It's $20 for 250MB of data an unlimited texting. []

Re:Prepaid 250MB data for $20 (2)

RedACE7500 (904963) | about 3 years ago | (#36591220)

and $30 for 1GB.

Prepaid (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591226)

Buy a prepaid subscription for your trip- any prepaid, really - add data plan and get over with it. No worries on overcharging, stops dead in the water when money runs out. Recharge and works again. Can even have those dollar-per-day plans.....

Rogers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591230)

I have a daughter who lives in Canada, although I live in the US. Some years ago, I used to pay for her pay-as-you-go cell phone, using a US debit card, without any troubles. That was with Rogers. I could also recharge the phone, by phone. I never could get their internet system to work properly. I hope that this helps.

Tethered. (2, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | about 3 years ago | (#36591232)

I'll be staying on an island accessible only by boat.

For one damn week, kick the habit. Ditch the tech and enjoy your time with these kids.

Re:Tethered. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591442)

Could be worse. He could discover that there are great spans of Canada without any cellular or internet access, except by satellite!

Re:Tethered. (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 3 years ago | (#36591446)

I suspect that it is the parents of the youth group members that are pressing for updates and pictures, and not the guy going there. Parents can be anal about such things. Remember, it's for the children.

Re:Tethered. (3, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 3 years ago | (#36591528)

Only a few short years ago, parents got along just fine when the kids went off to summer camp, and didn't worry that the kids wouldn't trouble them with phone calls home and constant SMSs and emails. Matter of fact, Mom and Dad would usually call this time period "vacation".

There are two reasons kids go to summer camp. Only one is for the kids.

I agree with the GP. Unplug. It'll be best for all of you.

Re:Tethered. (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 3 years ago | (#36591602)

There are two reasons kids go to summer camp.

"A week" "with a youth group" is unlikely to be "summer camp". It sounds like a special trip for a specific purpose. Summer camps tend to have professional staff and insurance policies to keep parents happy. A "summer camp" on an island accessible only by boat will have professional staff taking the kids out to the island and won't need some adult coming along for the ride.

"Youth group" trips are whoever got roped into it going places without professional staff to deal with the kids.

If he could unplug, I'm sure he'd have chosen that option instead of spending money on "blogs and photos", and would not have bothered asking.

Re:Tethered. (1)

PNutts (199112) | about 3 years ago | (#36591800)

If he could unplug, I'm sure he'd have chosen that option instead of spending money on "blogs and photos", and would not have bothered asking.

It's OK for you to make that assumption, but I doubt many people here would go on a vacation for a week and unplug.

Re:Tethered. (1)

PNutts (199112) | about 3 years ago | (#36591822)

I suspect that it is the parents of the youth group members that are pressing for updates and pictures, and not the guy going there. Parents can be anal about such things. Remember, it's for the children.

I dont' disagree, but if I need a daily picture to prove my kid isn't tied to a bed or eaten by wolves (since Jeffery passed) I'm not sending them there.

Should work (1)

Sefirosu (178697) | about 3 years ago | (#36591236)

Both Bell and Rogers offer the same iPad plans that you can subscribe directly on the device. Bell didn't allow that at first but they do now, TELUS still does not, you have to call them.

I highly doubt that they will refuse to take your money for a plan, if unsure ask at the store where you will get the micro-sim card or else you can get a prepaid credit card almost everywhere these days.

Other than that, maybe check coverage maps just in case to see if you have 3G coverage where you will be going. Rogers does not have 3G everywhere and it can fallback to EDGE, Bell and TELUS on the other have only HSPA and CDMA, but no GSM network.

Re:Should work (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 3 years ago | (#36591702)

Other than that, maybe check coverage maps just in case to see if you have 3G coverage where you will be going. Rogers does not have 3G everywhere and it can fallback to EDGE, Bell and TELUS on the other have only HSPA and CDMA, but no GSM network.

Not quite true. I have used an unlocked GSM-only phone on Bell's network without any problems. Put my SIM in and it works. Bell and Telus both run quad-band GSM in addition to their HSPA and CDMA networks in most areas.

5GB for $35 for 30 days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591258)

You can get pre-paid 250MB for $15 or 5GB for $35. It lasts for 30 days. With either Bell or Rogers.
I think it's about $5 to $10 for the sim card. You shouldn't need a Canadian credit card.

Upgrade to the International Data Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591278)

I have taken many trips to Vancouver and simply called ahead of time saying I wanted to up my data plan to the $60/month unlimited international plan. When you return, simply lower the plan back to the standard $30/month one. They will prorate, so essentially you only pay an extra $1/day for Canadian coverage, and its a small hassle compared to other suggestions I am seeing here. If you are out of their service area, then this obviously wont help you very much.

If you're travelling to Newfoundland... (1)

Runefox (905204) | about 3 years ago | (#36591280)

Forget Rogers in Newfoundland. Their coverage is in exactly two places - Most parts of St. John's, and I believe some of Clarenville or Gander. Bell's network, on the other hand, is comprehensive here, and the other mobile providers here use Bell's towers (Fido excepted, because Rogers owns Fido).

Temporary Plan Upgrade (3, Informative)

Jahava (946858) | about 3 years ago | (#36591302)

When I was visiting Canada from the US, I actually called Verizon from my car on the way up. The customer service rep was very informative, and after much questioning we agreed to basically upgrade my account to "international" for exactly the time that I was in Canada. It would be prorated to the higher fee for the 4 days, then revert to its original US plan. It was something like $15US/day extra for both voice and data - nothing horrible. I checked my bill afterwards and it went seamlessly. I recommend at least investigating this option.

Re:Temporary Plan Upgrade (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591484)

$15 a *DAY* is nothing horrible?

You must be one of those silicon valley elite types.

I work a shitty IT program manager job in middle america, and I'll have you know in the *rest* of the country that's about a half days' wages after tax.

Re:Temporary Plan Upgrade (1)

halivar (535827) | about 3 years ago | (#36591560)

Well, then, I guess you're lucky enough to never have to make considerations for international vacations.

Re:Temporary Plan Upgrade (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 3 years ago | (#36591748)

My guess is he's more sane about it... my phone is unlocked. When I go international, I buy a local SIM card, put it in my phone, and hey look, it works and is *way* cheaper than the $450/mo that the Verizon plan multiplies out to. I have SIM cards in Germany, the UK, Netherlands Antilles, Costa Rica, and the US. I would consider the $15 that it cost to unlock my phone to be money well spent.

Re:Temporary Plan Upgrade (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591564)

So their international calling plan is $450/month extra? You could probably just rent a small apartment in Canada and pay for cable internet for that price.

Re:Temporary Plan Upgrade (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591720)

While this is what my family did when we went up a couple years back, it definitely depends who you get when you call. It took us 3 weeks of continuous correspondence with Verizon to get the deal we were first promised. While we did eventually get what was offered, 3 weeks of calling Verizon and each rep claiming to have fixed our bill and not having actually done so gets rather annoying. I am glad to hear both you and the next post had success, and perhaps our case was a rarity, but if not be aware it might be a bit of a hassle.

Re:Temporary Plan Upgrade (1)

citylife (202595) | about 3 years ago | (#36591808)

Its cheap and easy to get canada roaming added to you plan for a bit. I think it was 10 total per month when I did it two yrs ago. Worked like a charm.

at least try calling verizon (2)

mlc (16290) | about 3 years ago | (#36591304)

I was in Canada last summer for a couple of weeks, and Verizon offered me fairly reasonable data (and voice, fwiw) roaming rates. They even automatically canceled the plan on the day I was scheduled to return to the US without me having to make another call to customer service. Most Verizon reps have actually heard of Canada. It's not like you're traveling across the ocean or anything.

By “fairly reasonable,” of course, I still mean too much money, but still less than signing up for an entirely new prepaid plan with a Canadian carrier. Call them up, see how much money they want, and then make your comparisons from there.

Tellular (1)

Kelroth (2004164) | about 3 years ago | (#36591322)

I work for a Canadian phone company and I recommend looking for a piece of hardware called a "Tellular" because it works off of a 3G system and gives you a land line dial tone, a network data jack, and a fax line dial tone all in one.

Dammit none of you have the right reply (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 3 years ago | (#36591326)

Post the pics to a free webserver. All thephone + Canada is noise.

Your loved ones / friends download the pics at home .

Use Data Sensibly (1)

erik_flannestad (472078) | about 3 years ago | (#36591328)

I had no problem when traveling in Spain, got a pro-rated international data and voice plan from Verizon. Ended up being the cheapest phone bill of the year.

As long as you are sensible about paying attention to when you are using data and use Wireless when you can, I don't think you'll have a problem.

Get a life (1)

Chemisor (97276) | about 3 years ago | (#36591330)

People used to go to the wilderness to get away from it all. These days they go for the livejournal entries [] .

I'm not familiar with this definition of "need" (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 years ago | (#36591332)

and need a way to post blog updates on the trip and send back photos

I have taken plenty of vacations in Canada and did not find myself with such a need. Waiting until I returned was plenty adequate for blog updates and showing off photos. You can buy a lot of storage for your camera for what wireless internet might cost you in the middle of nowhere for a week.

Re:I'm not familiar with this definition of "need" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591448)

Not only that, but it sounds like this person is going on a truly awesome Canadian vacation, to an island accessible only by boat. Why ruin that with "accessible only by boat or smartphone"?

Sad Story (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591334)

As a Canadian, I have worse news than the prices of data plans. Unfortunately, I think your biggest issue will be simply availability of data service. Unless you are in one of the few more populated areas of Canada (i.e. Pretty much all of Southern Ontario, and Vancouver area; I know there are exceptions everyone, I'm generalizing for sake of brevity.) the coverage is terrible. I live in Northwestern Ontario, and we JUST got 3G in the city I live in, and I don't get any data service outside 50km (~30miles) of the city. The coverage is getting better in general, but it's a slow process. It will all depend on the area you are in for sure, and how far you are willing to travel to send your data (which will probably be just as close as a free wifi signal, or worth travelling to get to it). So I guess bottom line would be to see if you can even get coverage, and then I'd say price is secondary. As a point of reference, I pay $30/mnth for 6Gigs of data. I know this more expensive than I'm sure some people are paying, but I live in a smaller city with a small population (~100,000)

I'd think you should be asking your provider first (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 3 years ago | (#36591366)

Isn't there a 'vacation' package you can get that'll give you X MB of international north american data for a one time cost that lasts one month or some other temporary 'add-on'.

Typicially even if you need more than the 'cap', the overage rate is much much lower if you have the package.

e.g. my last trip to italy I bought a 50MB package for $60 or something like that, but it lowered the roaming data rate from 3 cents per kilobyte to $1/MB (or 0.1 / kilobyte). So even though I used 67MB it cost me $17 extra for a grand total of $77... of the $2010 it would have cost without a package. (@ .03$ / kB x 67 MB)

simple mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591384)

There is this prepaid company called Simple Mobile and they have full prepaid service for $60 per month, but you have to use their SIM. Maybe you can find someone to lend you a phone a GSM phone that supports tmobiles G4 band and just tether from there. Or maybe you have GSM phone that is compatible with their system

Turn it off! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591408)

Do like I do when visiting the U.S. - turn the damn thing off - you don't need another mortgage just to remain connected for such a short period of time. Plus coverage here doesn't include most lakes and rivers.

Coverage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591416)

You could have saved all of us Canadians the hassle by actually specifying the island you are going to. We have several boat-accessible islands, and some have coverage, and some do not. I assume you are going to be in either Newfoundland -- which isn't usually referred to as "an island" even though, of course, it is -- or you are going to be in the Gulf Islands on the West Coast (or perhaps you have a special pass to visit Sable Island out east of Nova Scotia?)

Newfoundland has coverage, but not everywhere. The Gulf Islands do have coverage, but not everywhere. Sable Island does not have 3G coverage that I am aware of. Use the coverage maps found on our provider's web pages to determine if you can, in fact, have coverage before committing to a plan. And make sure you talk to locals before committing as well since they know how spotty or solid the coverage is.

Re:Coverage? (1)

B-RadMax (2315424) | about 3 years ago | (#36591458)

Heh, when he said island, I was thinking much smaller. I live in an area where there are thousands of islands, and fishing camps on hundreds of them. I can guarantee if you are coming out here, where LOTS of Americans do come, you will not be getting service at all. Data or phone. Definitely check the coverage though as parent states.

Just use the roaming (1)

Saint Stephen (19450) | about 3 years ago | (#36591434)

Your mileage may vary, but I was paranoid about using my cell phone or data plan when in Mexico. After I missed my flight, and having massive difficulty using the pay phones to call the airlines, I ended up just making a few calls on my cell. After that I decided to check my email while waiting for the next flight. It wasn't crazy - maybe $60 extra for a few minutes of phone/data time, if even that much. Sure, it was expensive, but I was smart about it, got done quickly, and it wasn't as painful as I thought

Re:Just use the roaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591558)

That's just silly. Considering your unlimited local plan is about $60 you consider another 60 bucks for a few minutes realistic.

I forgot to disable roaming coming the other way from Canada to the US, and 20 texts and 2 facebook photo postings cost be $60.

Advice to original poster from others is correct. Simply contact your carrier I'm sure they have something, just be sure to confirm they have cancelled the option upon your return - some are good about it, some are outright liars.

Save yourself some grief and do NOT directly engage the Canadian carriers; they will a) be too stupid to understand that your an American looking for Canadian roaming, or b) will not be able to find a plan for you.

Ask on Reddit (0)

dsanfte (443781) | about 3 years ago | (#36591466)

Just ask this on Reddit. You'll get a hundred replies in one hour and won't have to wait two days for the Slashdot mods to get around to posting your question.

good luck getting a signal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591474)

Best of luck getting wireless coverage on an "Island accessible only by water" up here.

That's about everywhere that's covered. beyond that, data is going to cost you more then the arm and the leg it already does!

Contact your provider (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 3 years ago | (#36591480)

If you contact your provider in advance, its sometimes possible to arrange for a data plan in the country you're visiting through them, and avoid the roaming charges.

Also I know its possible to get the pay-as-you-go data plans with cash ONLY if you already own the equipment necessary (ie they only need to give you a SIM). They will not hand over a data stick without a credit card or your willingness to buy it outright.

Under $100? More like under $30 (2)

zill (1690130) | about 3 years ago | (#36591508)

Both Wind Mobile [] and Mobilicity [] offers $10 unlimited data add-ons. If you don't want any voice plans then their data-only plans would cost $30 and $40 respectively.

No credit card is needed for either of these providers. Cash and carry. So it doesn't matter if you're Canadian, American, or Pastafarian.

Re:Under $100? More like under $30 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591744)

"I'll be staying on an island accessible only by boat"

ie, not in a major city. So Mobilicity and Wind are not valid options.

Virgin Mobile Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591522)

Virgin Mobile Canada offers pay as you go plans, problem is all plans from all companies require a Canadian credit card and/or address.

You may be better off buying a international plan from your provider. I have friends who prepay for roaming data from ATT in 500mb chunks.

Which island? (3, Informative)

rueger (210566) | about 3 years ago | (#36591532)

Before getting too carried away, keep in mind that your island may have poor or no cel coverage anyhow.

For that matter there are locations on the Vancouver North Shore [] where my Telus/Moto phone is useless.

OK, I'll admit that as long you're travelling along the bottom half of the country service is pretty reliable, but the three mega corps that own the cellular business in Canada really don't give a damn about service.

PS - Telus and Bell operate on the same network.

Re:Which island? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591672)

yes! +++ top post.

I lived on the big island for 8yr (until end of last year) and there wasn't even coverage once you got 30 minutes off the beaten path in most places. You won't be getting much if anything on any of the islands that are only people ferried. The ones you can drive to, you'll still have to not be blocked in all directions by mountains and/or trees to get anything decent. BC is a rugged place. Hell I had to turn off my phone when i visited friends in sooke and beyond, because i picked up towers in port angeles better than the local towers just a couple hilltops away.

What you should be doing is taking a chance to do some local wildlife viewing in the local coffee shops while using the internet there. You'll be surprised at the strange creatures you can spot in remote island communities. Just keep your distance and don't feed the locals ; )

Rogers Pay As You Go? (1)

kbahey (102895) | about 3 years ago | (#36591536)

The options are not pretty, Canada having some of the most monopolistic mobile carriers in the G20.

Having said that, you should consider the following:

- CDMA is out, since I don't think it would work with another carrier. CDMA works only with Bell and Telus. So Rogers, Fido and the rest are out.

- Is the area you are in within mobile range of certain carriers? It may not be. So check with locals there. There used to be a map of all Canada with all the cell towers and all carriers somewhere. I forgot the URL though. Google may help.

- Is your iPad locked to a certain carrier or not? If it is locked, you need to unlock it before a SIM from a different provider

- Rogers Pay As You Go gives you 7 day access for $7, and 125MB. You will need a SIM, which is I think, $35, then you need to put some money in the account, say $25 or so.Since 125MB will not be enough, you will need several of these $7. The way it works is that you set the APN in your phone/device to Rogers', and then try to browse. A text message will be sent to you with a URL. You click that, and it will give you a choice of $2 for 1 day and 10MB, or $7 for a week, and 125MB. You click on the link, the money is deducted from your balance, and you are done. Check here for more info: Rogers Pay As You Go [] .

I have an article on my site for using Android Smartphones with Rogers Pay As You Go [] . The APN info may help with your iOS setup.

By the way, Rogers is my regular users, and Pay As You Go is my regular plan. I am using Rogers Pay As You Go this week in a not so remote place. That $7 has lasted me from Friday to Monday, but I have not uploaded photos on it. There is WiFi walking distance from here, and I use that for photo uploads.

One option would be to... (2)

Amlothi (207848) | about 3 years ago | (#36591598)

... call the service provider and ask them is they take a US credit card instead of posting your question on Slashdot. If that fails, I'm sure there are plenty of other more suitable forums for this discussion elsewhere on the web. (A simple google search found plenty of discussions on internet service in Canada... suprise!)

I'm not sure why Slashdot continues to pander to a US-centric audience, and waste space on personal interest stories instead of "news for nerds" and other "stuff that matters".

What's next? A story on how "My Grandmother can't get on facebook and I think it's a problem with this box of flashing lights plugged into the wall, can someone help me?"

Pre-paid throw-away phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591612)

Had a similar issue. This was my solution:

I picked-up the $40 phone with a $25 pre-paid card and activated the texting/data addons. The back bone it runs off is Rogers, so you get decent coverage but the service is limited to 2G - which isn't all the bad for the price. You can throw the SIM card into any unlocked phone or Rogers branded phone.

Citizenship Doesn't Matter, Nor Should It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591614)

Ask Slashdot: Mobile Data In Canada For a US Citizen?

I can't believe I'm the first U.S. citizen to want mobile data in Canada.

Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:Citizenship Doesn't Matter, Nor Should It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591750)

This is my pet peeve too.

I got refunded by AT&T (1)

NerdENerd (660369) | about 3 years ago | (#36591628)

When I was living in the US I went to Vancouver for the weekend and ordered an international data plan from AT&T before I went. I only used a bit of Google maps on the iPhone to see what was around me. When I got my next bill from AT&T they had hundreds of dollars in charges for using the Rogers network. I was charged at 5 cents a kilobyte. People should be put in jail for fraud by charging 5 cents for a single kilobyte. After ringing and asking why the data plan was never applied to my account I was refunded the charges so I got if for free but I was ready to throw rocks through the window of the local AT&T store when I first got the bill.

How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591640)

I recommend the "FFS It can wait until you get back" plan.

1 week (0)

MagicM (85041) | about 3 years ago | (#36591646)

1 week? Get a notebook, a pencil, and an extra memory card for your camera. Spend as much time as possible enjoying your short trip, and worry about the things you "need" when you get back.

Verizon pro-rated plan is good (1)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | about 3 years ago | (#36591698)

Like several other commenters here, I have Verizon and simply called them up and asked what the options were. They offered to add Canada to my plan, but I only had to pay for the week I was to go there, then they'd revert back to the US-only plan and refund the portion of the month I had not used. They did exactly that, and it all went smoothly.

Now, the important thing to keep in mind is that if you get say a 400MB per month plan for Canada, and you only use it for a week, you can only use 100MB. So if you end up going over that, say 150 MB, what they will do is leave the plan turned on long enough so that it will accomodate what you ended up using, rather than charge the overage at $2/MB or whatever the crazy roaming rate is (it's close to that.)

I checked my usage periodically via the account center on their website, and despite using it heavily for GPS navigation and traffic mapping via google maps and also doing email and web surfing with it, I only used about 60MB total, which was under the 100MB limit I had set for the Canada portion of the plan.

I have to say that I have not had a single bad experience with Verizon customer service so far, in about three years of usage. Compared to AT&T where EVERY phone call to customer service was a horrid ordeal.

All of this is moot if your Island does not have Verizon coverage.

Re:Verizon pro-rated plan is good (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 3 years ago | (#36591826)

All of this is moot if your Island does not have coverage from a Canadian provider who has a roaming agreement with Verizon.

Fixed that for you. However, if it has coverage from a CDMA provider (Telus or Bell Mobility, IIRC) then surely Verizon will have a roaming agreement with them.

As someone who regularly crosses the border ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591700)

And as someone who works for a bank - your credit card will work, no issues. Wouldn't it have been easier, (and faster) to just call your credit card company? LOL!

$58 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591754)

they have a free USB 3G modem with SIM card for $58
prepaid for two months- unlimited use.

Did no-one mention satellite? (1)

SlithyMagister (822218) | about 3 years ago | (#36591820)

In the hinterland of N BC I used to use a satellite package, since there was no cell coverage at all.
I know nothing about data caps, or transmission speeds, but it is totally independent of any cell network.
assuming they still exist, of course

check the canadian coverage first! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36591858)

check to be sure that there is coverage for the area before you even bother. some places simply are too remote to have anything at all. i would guess that you are going to be in the gulf islands off the bc coast, which should have coverage for most of the area. up north island, it gets sketchy. further north and you have less of a chance of coverage.

so, find out which canadian carrier covers the area best, and see if they have a roaming agreement with your carrier. then get a data/voice roaming package from your carrier as others have said. and when you get to the island, don't expect it to work. there are even places in the greater vancouver area that are cellular dead zones,

Normally I don't mind Ask Slashdot, but... (1)

PNutts (199112) | about 3 years ago | (#36591866)

But come on... Call the freaking carriers. Someone manages the island or the boat to it. Call them. You had conflicting reports and you decided to post to Slashdot to get straightened out? I seriously question your decision making skills and hope that if you are one of the organizers or leaders of the youth group that there are others to keep everyone safe. I get the feeling you are a "GPS led me off a cliff" sort of s/he.
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