I spent Easter weekend with my better half in New York City, with mobile connectivity for the both of us provided by Roam Mobility.
It’s not the only option for travellers to the USA, but it seemed the best-suited for us. We’re both on Koodo monthly plans here in Canada, so neither Rogers’ 50MB data roaming package for $7.99/day nor WIND’s new $39/month plan with US data roaming included would do. And since I’m not really on-board with KnowRoaming attaching a parasitic host to our SIM cards, Roam Mobility got the nod.
$3.95 CAD per day for 100—wait, 300 MB of data seemed reasonable enough.
This is the best result I got over the entire weekend, from an early-morning test Saturday in our mid-town hotel room. It’s hardly “blazing fast 4G data” as Roam Mobility advertises; despite having an LTE-compatible Nexus 5 I was stuck on HSPA for the entire trip.
And there’s more to the story than just this screen grab…
On the first day of our trip data speeds were downright horrible. Of the five test results you see above, the first two are from Newark International Airport, the third and fifth from our mid-town hotel and the fourth from a restaurant in Greenwich Village.
I should also mention that setting up our phones for Roam Mobility’s service wasn’t quite as easy as with, say, a tourist SIM from PCCW in Hong Kong. I entered Roam’s APN from the plane after we landed, and data was available by the time we got through customs.
For whatever reason I got much better results on days 2 and 3. Ping times were still slow but download speeds were much improved. Upload speeds were, for comparison, consistently faster than I ever got with WIND Mobile in downtown Toronto.
On the subject of comparisons, I borrowed a friend’s Nexus 4 to see the kind of data speeds he was getting from T-Mobile. This particular test was done at a hip breakfast joint in Brooklyn; check April 20th at 12:36pm on the previous screen for my own nearly-identical results.
My takeaway from all of this is that New York City is just really congested when it comes to mobile data. With almost 8.5 million residents (plus untold numbers of tourists) and tall buildings everywhere I would almost expect sub-par cellular service as a second-class citizen on someone else’s network—probably T-Mobile. Roam Mobility did well enough that I’d probably use it again.
Oh, and if you were wondering there were no issues whatsoever with texting. As for that other thing that mobile phones do, I made use of Roam Mobility’s free calls to Canada exactly once, to wish dear old mom a Happy Easter. Call quality sounded fine to me…