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Old 01-27-2018, 08:59 AM   #41
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This is from ATT web site per roaming.

Usage Restriction: If international voice, text, or data usage exceeds 50% of total voice, text, or data usage for two consecutive months, this feature may be removed.
How long ago were you down there?

Besides, if you are going to be there that long, easiest thing to do is get a Telcel account.

Skype and the other VOIP apps are indeed great tools.
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Old 01-27-2018, 09:35 AM   #42
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How long ago were you down there?...
18 months ago. During the morning nets, people were talking about being shut off. When we were there full time, it was pretty common in the fall, as a new group of cruisers and the end of hurricane season, people were trying to figure out the best way to stay connected. And as youíve hinted, what worked yesterday may not work today.
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Old 01-27-2018, 10:03 AM   #43
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OK, speaking live from La Paz via Google FI. It works, but I honestly can't even tell if I'm on LTE or what, mostly because I can't figure out this android phone which is new to me. My iPhone clearly shows bars and indicated 3G, 4G, LTE, etc. But I'm guessing I'm on LTE because the speed is reasonable.

Yes, ATT and Verizon both have roaming plans for Mexico and other countries, but in practice I have found them highly problematic in a number of ways. Here's a quick summary after several years of roaming, mostly in Canada, and now in Mexico. Please keep in mind that our goal is to provide data for the boat, so this is a slightly different objective that just casually visiting a country with your phone in hand. There is no doubt that buying a local SIM card can be the best solution, but it can also be the most inconvenient as you will see below.

ATT. Roaming works well and it seems to select the premium towers, e.g. LTE over 3G. But you have to pay $30-$120 for one of a few minuscule data plans. It's fine if you are traveling casually with your phone, but no good for boat data.

We have a couple of ATT iPads and bought the roaming plans for mexico. They pretty much didn't work at all. Useless is the word that comes to mind

Verizon. They used to have a great deal for canada and mexico roaming where for $2 per day you could use your full plan in those countries. And you only get billed for days you use it, so you can just leave the feature active and travel at will. Seems awesome, right. So I set it up for one phone and for a USB modem that we have. Two problems. First is that by all indications you roam on the shitty legacy networks, not the new fast ones. So I would routinely find the modem on 3G when my phone was on LTE with the same carrier. Second, Verizon jacked the prices after maybe a year, now charging $6 per day. So what was $60/ months to extend your full plan to CN or MX is now $180, so getting pricey. And in Mexico, it basely works at all.

ATT has a similar day at a time roaming plan, but it's $10/day, so $300 per month which is pretty rich for what you get.

And there is another problem with Verizon roaming with a USB modem. I plug mine into a PepLink router. Working domestically, it works great, but when operating internationally the modem pops up a warning about roaming charges that has to be accepted, causing the pep link to not connect automatically. The only way to connect is to access the modem via it's web page and accept the popup, and that's required every time is reconnects which is pretty often. It makes it useless for any form of unattended operation. You can configure the modem to automatically connect even when roaming, but it still pops up the message. Of course Peplink and Verizon point the finger at each other.

For Canada, I bought another USB modem and plan from Telus. It worked well, but what a nightmare getting the service set up. You need a Canadian address. The first time, I gave the address of their store and they didn't notice. The second time, I gave a friend's address in BC. That got me service, but now try to pay the bill. To pay with a credit card, your billing address had to be in CN, and it has to match the billing address on the card. Impossible when you live outside of CN. So I tried sending a check made out in CN dollars. It got returned. My bank refused anything but USD. So I estimated the exchange rate and sent a check in USD. The result was a credit on my account for the next two years. Then I reactivated a couple of years later, and hit on a well informed clerk who was able to override their systems, get automatic billing to my US CC, and utilize my old credit. But try doing that a second time....

Oh, and there is the whole myth of moving SIM cards from one device to another. I have never seen it work with a USB modem or myfi hotspot device, and I have tried all permutations of devices and SIMs from Telus, ATT, and Verizon. Each will only work with their own. So just buying a SIM and putting it in the modem isn't happening.

A bunch of people had suggested T-mobile, so I looked into it for our return trip to MX. International roaming is on 3G or 2G, not LTE, and limited to some very slow rate, so unsuitable for boat data. Oh, and hot spot operation is further restricted. It ended up not being any better than buying one of the tiny ATT roaming plans.

Then I stumbled across Google FI. The key for my application is that international roaming isn't on the shitty old networks, and isn't restricted. Plus hot spot operation isn't limited and that's what I need for boat data service. The only wild card appears to be with whom and where they have roaming agreements. So far, at least in La Paz, they are the best of ATT, Verizon, Marina wifi (what a joke), and T-mobile. The down side is that it only works with a select set of phones. I have a spare iPhone 6 that was just sooo-yesterday for my son, and I have been hoping to use it with various SIMs as a hotspot. But no-go with Google FI, so I had to buy a $300 phone. If it works, that's an acceptable one time expense, and if it doesn't work, well, it's the cost of experimentation.

OK, there you have it
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Old 01-27-2018, 10:26 AM   #44
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Verizon. They used to have a great deal for canada and mexico roaming where for $2 per day you could use your full plan in those countries. And you only get billed for days you use it, so you can just leave the feature active and travel at will. Seems awesome, right. So I set it up for one phone and for a USB modem that we have. Two problems. First is that by all indications you roam on the shitty legacy networks, not the new fast ones. So I would routinely find the modem on 3G when my phone was on LTE with the same carrier. Second, Verizon jacked the prices after maybe a year, now charging $6 per day. So what was $60/ months to extend your full plan to CN or MX is now $180, so getting pricey. And in Mexico, it basely works at all.
We didn't have this problem with Verizon over the past 2 years of cruising the Inside Passage. Depending where you were you would be on one of the three networks, Bell, Telis or Rodgers. We would get a message that "for the rest of the day "we had used up our international high speed allocation", but it really didn't affect us. Then there were days, sometimes a week with no cell service, due to wilderness.
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Old 01-27-2018, 10:29 AM   #45
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Twisted. Great post.

Our experience in Canada and Mexico has been such that if we hadn't had Satellite Phone and Satellite Internet, I would have been screaming. We tried and tested many carriers, US and Canadian and Mexican. Even on local service rather than roaming in Mexico, it was frustrating from area to area. Then we moved on to the next country and it was a new puzzle. If all you need is talk and if you occasionally don't have service, which is the situation for most users, then you're fine with typical US plans and roaming. However, if you depend on data and must have a high level of dependability, it's a real challenge. Anxious to hear how Google performs for you. It should be best equipped to provide the level of service needed.

You mention AT&T and pricing for minuscule plans and Verizon's step up of prices. I'm sure both are very clear on the pricing structure and it's the fault of the user for not knowing, but in South Florida we have people come in who are furious as they've been traveling and ended up with not just $200 bills but $1000 and even $2000.
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Old 01-27-2018, 11:58 AM   #46
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We didn't have this problem with Verizon over the past 2 years of cruising the Inside Passage. Depending where you were you would be on one of the three networks, Bell, Telis or Rodgers. We would get a message that "for the rest of the day "we had used up our international high speed allocation", but it really didn't affect us. Then there were days, sometimes a week with no cell service, due to wilderness.
VZ worked much better in CN than MX, and I would say most of the time our roaming on VZ worked. But there were many times when although VZ was working, our ATT phone was on LTE service when VZ was on 3G, yet both on the same CN carrier. All I have is what I observe, but with two identical iPhones save the primary US carrier, I have to believe that different roaming is a consequence of their policies and contracts with the "foreign" carriers.
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Old 01-27-2018, 12:05 PM   #47
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Twisted. Great post.

Our experience in Canada and Mexico has been such that if we hadn't had Satellite Phone and Satellite Internet, I would have been screaming. We tried and tested many carriers, US and Canadian and Mexican. Even on local service rather than roaming in Mexico, it was frustrating from area to area. Then we moved on to the next country and it was a new puzzle. If all you need is talk and if you occasionally don't have service, which is the situation for most users, then you're fine with typical US plans and roaming. However, if you depend on data and must have a high level of dependability, it's a real challenge. Anxious to hear how Google performs for you. It should be best equipped to provide the level of service needed.

You mention AT&T and pricing for minuscule plans and Verizon's step up of prices. I'm sure both are very clear on the pricing structure and it's the fault of the user for not knowing, but in South Florida we have people come in who are furious as they've been traveling and ended up with not just $200 bills but $1000 and even $2000.
Agreed. The real challenge is internet for the boat, which means it needs to be reliable and somewhat plentiful. And if you operate without an international plan, or run over, the costs can be staggering.

Speaking of which , it's worth noting that we are NOT talking about streaming movies, but rather much less intensive data usage. 4-8GB/mo is plenty for us. Streaming movies would be wonderful, and maybe someday I'll have a service that can do that internationally, but for now I'm just trying to solve the more mundane problem of web browsing, email, etc.
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Old 01-27-2018, 12:06 PM   #48
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Here's another Google FI update. I tried making a phone call and no-go. It just disconnects. Hopefully it's just operator error of some sort.
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Old 01-27-2018, 04:21 PM   #49
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Peter and Tom......I've been following your comments closely on what carrier you feel is best for BC and SE Alaska. We've used Verizon for at least the last 10 years and it mostly has worked fine for voice around towns and settlements, supplemented with an Iridium sat phone when we are out of cell range. I am, however, always on the lookout for a better solution. Verizon charges dearly for data downloads, and one year we got surprised and severely hosed on the cost. Won't do that again.
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Old 01-27-2018, 04:28 PM   #50
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Verizon charges dearly for data downloads, and one year we got surprised and severely hosed on the cost. Won't do that again.
Surprise. Verizon leads in that category just as they do in signal.
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Old 01-27-2018, 10:33 PM   #51
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We have multiple devices with Verizon, and multiple devices with ATT, so get a pretty good comparison between the two. In SE Alaska, there is simply no comparison. ATT wins hands down. In the middle of the big towns both are fine, but everywhere else ATT is much better. While cruising around and approaching a populated area, our ATT devices would always get a signal and become usable before Verizon, and and when leaving it would always maintain a signal longer. And there are areas where we had service via ATT, and not at all from Verizon. I don't think the opposite was ever true.

If all you have is Verizon, you will survive just fine. But ATT will give you significantly better coverage outside of the big "cities".
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Old 01-28-2018, 08:00 PM   #52
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TT, do you recall the restrictions T-Mobile places on hotspots? I use my phone's hotspot frequently on the boat.
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Old 01-28-2018, 08:11 PM   #53
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Oh, and there is the whole myth of moving SIM cards from one device to another. I have never seen it work with a USB modem or myfi hotspot device, and I have tried all permutations of devices and SIMs from Telus, ATT, and Verizon. Each will only work with their own. So just buying a SIM and putting it in the modem isn't happening.
You need to use something like one of the Cradlepoint modems, not a carrier issued device. Several have dual SIM capability.

What Android device do you have? Very unusual not to have a clear indication of the network type (LTE, etc) and signal strength.

Thanks for the report. Do you ever go ashore? No time in marinas? In other words, no access to land based wifi? It is great cruising down there, so i can certainly understand if you don't. So where exactly are you down there that all this is based on?
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Old 01-28-2018, 08:27 PM   #54
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"If all you have is Verizon, you will survive just fine. But ATT will give you significantly better coverage outside of the big "cities"."

Meant to ask.......how is ATT in BC, particularly above Cape Caution?
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Old 01-28-2018, 10:48 PM   #55
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TT, do you recall the restrictions T-Mobile places on hotspots? I use my phone's hotspot frequently on the boat.
Maybe. I think it's speed limited, and maybe you pay extra for hot spot service? And then you can pay extra to get more hot spot data? And I think internationally it was super slow and very limited on data.

It was on on their web site, but you need to read all the fine print and the terms of service agreement. The basic web site has gone the way of most web sites with nothing but pretty pictures, one-liners, and smiling people. You really have to dig to find any actual information. But I'm sure if I buy their product I'll lose weight, may hair will grow back, and I'll be more handsome and happier :-)
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Old 01-28-2018, 10:58 PM   #56
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You need to use something like one of the Cradlepoint modems, not a carrier issued device. Several have dual SIM capability.

What Android device do you have? Very unusual not to have a clear indication of the network type (LTE, etc) and signal strength.

Thanks for the report. Do you ever go ashore? No time in marinas? In other words, no access to land based wifi? It is great cruising down there, so i can certainly understand if you don't. So where exactly are you down there that all this is based on?
It's a Moto X4 I think. I would expect it to show "LTE" or "3G" or such. It does show "H", whatever that is.

In my experience marina wifi is 90% of the time unusable it's so bad. I'm in a marina now - the most expensive place I have ever kept the boat - and the wifi it completely useless. I could write letters faster. The next most expensive place I have ever stayed was Coal Harbor in Vancouver, and the same thing was true there. I actually can't think of the last place I stayed where the wifi worked any better than 3G, and never better than LTE. Maybe it's just me, but I find it very annoying that marina's don't have good wifi. That and power are really the only things I want from them. And if push comes to shove, I don't need the power either and have stayed a number of places and not plugged in. I know a lot of people judge marinas based on the bathrooms, showers, and laundry. I judge them based on wifi, and nearly all fail. It's really pretty pathetic.
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Old 01-28-2018, 11:53 PM   #57
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[QUOTE=Ken E.;631317
Meant to ask.......how is ATT in BC, particularly above Cape Caution?[/QUOTE]

Lost the signal somewhere around Cape Caution and didn't pick it back up until just outside Bella Bella. Then you loose it again until Klemtu, Then Port Hardy, the Prince Rupert.
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Old 01-29-2018, 12:20 AM   #58
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In my experience marina wifi is 90% of the time unusable it's so bad. I'm in a marina now - the most expensive place I have ever kept the boat - and the wifi it completely useless. Maybe it's just me, but I find it very annoying that marina's don't have good wifi. That and power are really the only things I want from them. And if push comes to shove, I don't need the power either and have stayed a number of places and not plugged in. I know a lot of people judge marinas based on the bathrooms, showers, and laundry. I judge them based on wifi, and nearly all fail. It's really pretty pathetic.


Iím with you on that. I know there are some expenses for marinas to have acceptable WiFi, but come on, itís not that hard these days. WiFi is really a basic service for most. Any review written for a marina needs to include WiFi performance. Thatís one way to steer them to change.

(Written from our pretty good WiFi at Victoria Inner Harbor while streaming video
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Old 01-29-2018, 04:18 AM   #59
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It was on on their web site, but you need to read all the fine print and the terms of service agreement. The basic web site has gone the way of most web sites with nothing but pretty pictures, one-liners, and smiling people. You really have to dig to find any actual information.
Glad I am not the only one that has a complaint over that observation.
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Old 01-29-2018, 09:20 AM   #60
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Question for those that have done the Trent thru Canada:

How's the coverage and options up there? I have Verison and if I get my service for $5 that will probably work, but don't like it. Hope that's not $5 additional.

Also, someone mentioned satellite WiFi, BandB, was that you? What's the skinny on that? When I search it, I find little info, except very expensive $1 a minute Iridium service. Don't need the phone, just WiFi.

Also, how long is the Trend, until one gets into north Lake Huron and gets good Verizon signals again?
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