As many others in the Dynamics GP community, I’m getting ready to head to Fargo for the annual partner conference dedicated purely to GP.

This year, I vow to not pay ridiculous US roaming fees on my cell phone. Every year I feel a little bit stranded, a little bit out of touch and always checking for the free wifi. What a pain in the butt.

Part 1 of getting ready to go this year is arranging for roaming. For those Canadian fans reading this, here is what I did this year. I’ll post at the end how it worked out.

SIM cards & US roaming charges

I researched US carrier prices when I was in the US last weekend on a short personal trip. And then I heard about Roam Mobility in Vancouver. All they do is provide SIM cards for travelling to the US, with various plans by the day. Perfect. All you need is an unlocked phone.

I’m using an Apple iPhone 6 Plus. (yes, boo hiss, I’m not using a Windows device…)  My carrier in Canada is Telus Mobility.  To buy an unlocked phone, in my opinion, is ridiculous. If I wanted to buy my exact phone today, to buy it from Telus (or any carrier, locked to their system), the cost is $400 if I sign up for a 2 year plan or $900 from Apple, unlocked. Ya, I’ll save the $500 and buy a locked one, thanks.

To unlock a phone after you buy it, at one time, it seemed that you had to go to one of those cellular kiosks in the mall near you, and hand over your phone for some undetermined period for them to unlock it. It always sounded so shady to me… perhaps I just didn’t know how easy it was.

It was even easier than I thought: call Telus. I called on my way home one day to find out what the process was. It was SO SIMPLE I almost laughed.  It was done before I got home. I assume this process is pretty similar no matter what your carrier is, although the pricing may differ.

The cost: $35 charge on my next bill.

The unlocking code part was the first step. The next step when I had a chance, was to get a SIM card from another carrier that fits my phone (nano-sim in this case). In the meantime, there was nothing wrong with my phone and using it as I normally do here in Canada. Most people don’t have the ability to get another SIM until they travel to where they are heading. Once you have another SIM card, insert it in your phone and activate it on a WiFi network, and that’s it. At least, it seemed to be easy enough.

I went to my local Staples store and bought a SIM card for Roam Mobility for $10. I went home, activated it and tested it with my phone. I set it up to have a Buffalo, NY area code since that is where I travel to most, when travelling personally. I can’t *actually* test it via making a phone call until I get to the US though, but everything went as the Telus rep told me it would.

IMG_1395

Otherwise, it seemed pretty simple. I signed up for a 5 day plan, told them when I’m going to be in the US and it will be active for 5 consecutive days for my trip to Fargo. The coverage map looks excellent, so it will be interesting to see how this works out in reality when I get there. The cost: $3.95 per day, so about another $20.

Overall, the initial cost is higher than other options might be ($65 plus taxes or so), but on subsequent trips, all I do is tell them when I’m going to be out of the country and set up the schedule at $3,95 per day – the rest is already done.

Getting ready to leave

Otherwise, getting ready to leave for Fargo this time is a little bit easier. For the first time I am flying out of the airport closest to me – Kitchener – which will be about a 20 minute drive at most. Typically I fly out of Toronto (an hour on a good day) or Buffalo (less than 2 hours away).  It will be nice not to have to go far to get there, and more importantly, I’ll be home so much quicker on the return flight than normal! Plus the airport is likely pretty small so there are a lot fewer security hassles I’m sure.

Looking forward to catching up with people I see every year at these conferences… that’s the best part!