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Flyover country and cellular data plans (Canada/Mexico)
Old 10-03-2018, 02:18 PM   #1
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Flyover country and cellular data plans (Canada/Mexico)

After extensive travelling in the US during our working lives and in the first 5 years of retirement, we now spend 6 months in Mexico, 5 months in Canada and 1 month in Europe.

We have 2 cell phones, one on Bell and the other on Rogers. We need a data plan for 6 months in each of Canada and Mexico. Right now we use Telcel Amigo for Mexico, exchanging SIM cards.

Investigating what is available, we can get temporary data in Mexico from both Canadian carriers at outrageous rates.

Has anyone actually had experience with a plan that might work better?

We have found US carriers that offer Canada and Mexico, but they are quite expensive, and we don't need the US. They also limit roaming to prevent competing with Canadian and Mexican carriers.

We have wired internet in both countries (Shaw and Telmex). Our total spend now is:
  • 65/mo for 12 months with Bell (12 months for $780) One more year on 2-year contract.
  • 150/yr for 12 months with Rogers
  • 2500 pesos for both phones with Telcel Amigo (6 months for $160)
  • 84/mo with Shaw internet ($1000)
  • 400 pesos/mo with Telmex internet and landline ($27 x 12= $320)
Grand total C$2410/yr

We are anticipating adding an Apple Watch that will also need a plan and that is why we are looking for input. So the main issues are:
- a data plan (how much would an Apple Watch add?)
- avoidance of paying for 6 months while away

The paygo plans with Rogers and Telcel handle voice quite well on their plans but are limited in data.

The temporary data plans are very expensive. Bell has a vacation plan that prevents extra usage billings but the monthly fee continues.

Shaw internet is all that is available in our building (no fiber).

The C$2400 is ok but I have this nagging feeling that I could get more for my money. Thanks.
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Old 10-03-2018, 02:39 PM   #2
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I was going to suggest Project Fi for your cellular needs, but I checked, and it is only available to people who live in the U.S. And they don't support iPhones, so I guess that wasn't my best idea!

Man, it would kill me to pay ~$400US for internet service that I couldn't use while I was living at my second home. What is the activation fee? Maybe it's worth the hassle to stop and restart your Shaw internet?
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Old 10-03-2018, 05:07 PM   #3
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check TMobile One plan. free international text and data. and free everything in Canada/US/Mexico. Use WhatsApp or a similar app for webbased voice in Europe. *some wifis do not allow this web-based voice
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Old 10-03-2018, 05:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcowan View Post
We are anticipating adding an Apple Watch that will also need a plan and that is why we are looking for input.
Did you realize that you don't need any plan for the Apple Watch as long as it is within range of your iPhone?

I have an earlier (Series 2) version of the Apple Watch, and I often answer phone calls with it (Dick Tracy style) while I'm at home and my iPhone is at the other end of the condo on another floor. They're both on the same Wifi network so it's seamless.

When I go out of the house, I rarely forget my phone.
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Old 10-03-2018, 05:14 PM   #5
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Can you use T-mobile? Our US (actually a North America) plan covers Canada and Mexico at that same level of functionality from what I understand. Unlimited data, text, calls.

Also our plan covers 220 countries with fre text, low-speed data and cheap calls, free WiFi calling back to the US. So that covers us in Europe.

We use our Apple watches without any cell plan. Really didn’t need it as we carry our phones most of the time, and watches do fine tracking workouts away from the phone.

What does T-Mobile offer in Canada? Do they offer a North America plan there too? Will being six months in Mexico cause a problem?
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Old 10-03-2018, 08:45 PM   #6
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We have T-mobile and it has been great covering 200+ countires. If I remember, text is included in the plan for all countries at no additional cost. Phone calls are cheap. Data is part of the plan but again if memory serves, it slows down or may end for the month after X amount of consumption.
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Old 10-04-2018, 06:10 AM   #7
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I don't believe Canadians have access to T-Mobile plans, so that's a non-starter (sorry about that).

If you look at the fine print, T-mobile plans say:
Quote:
Not for extended international use; you must reside in the U.S. and primary usage must occur on our network. Device must register on our network before international use.
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Old 10-04-2018, 07:37 AM   #8
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Thanks for your input. I was aware of the limitations of T-Mobile and ATT plans. I will try to find a Mexican plan that allows extended international travel. I would love to have an Apple Watch 4 without iPhone and just link to the absent iPad when I am home.

I keep the internet at home because we rent our place while in Mexico. I can probably save $30 by shopping around.

I have a Google FI account (based on my VOIP number in San Diego) but not much use for my iPhone! Plus the VOIP is not great on Androids here in Vancouver. It is great for data but not good enough for consistent voice.

The hunt continues.
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Old 10-04-2018, 09:13 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
I don't believe Canadians have access to T-Mobile plans, so that's a non-starter (sorry about that).

If you look at the fine print, T-mobile plans say:
Well that’s for US plans. Is T-mobile not a provider in Canada?

But anyway the extended time of use in Mexico would-be probably cause issues anyway.
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Old 10-04-2018, 09:38 AM   #10
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I know my US-based Verizon allows me to use it while in Canada and Mexico for $5 a day extra—that would add up pretty fast!
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