Before I heard about Brightroam, it never occurred to me that bringing and using my phone along on vacation was a viable option. Getting messages from my previous cell phone service providers always scared me with their rates (who can really afford to pay $2 per text message in this age?).
Nowadays travellers going on brief vacations have developed almost a sort of technology-phobia while abroad simply because they know that everything is so much pricier when you’re away.
What’s more surprising is that because of the virtual monopoly that the big telecom providers have over Canadians, few think to look for affordable alternatives. But what I’ve found through travelling is that communication is essential, and always key to emergencies. When we go on vacation, it’s a hassle to really check over phone plans amidst researching for hotels, landmarks and etc., but Brightroam really simplifies the whole process. Capturing a market share in a niche and definitely growing market, I’m here to really spread the news about an innovative service that’ll eventually combat the pre-established norms for roaming and travelling.
After using Brightroam for the first time abroad, I found the whole process insanely simple. I already have an unlocked phone which really helped with the whole process as only unlocked phones work with the Brightroam SIMs. Now I’m not exactly a tech wizard, but after playing with a few settings, I realized that in order for the Caribbean SIM card to work accurately, you need to have your network settings set to either “GSM/WCDMA Auto” or just “GSM.”
I personally didn’t use data on my trip, but if you’re having problems with data, it’s most likely because of your APN settings. In a nutshell, the APN is the gateway between your mobile network and the Internet. Sometimes if not set right, the gate won’t be matched with your network and Internet, thus preventing you from surfing the web. That’s why it’s really important to set these settings beforehand to make sure that you won’t be cut without Internet when travelling. Although it sounds really technical and difficult, you definitely won’t have trouble “Googling” how to change these APN settings for your specific phone and carrier.
While using my phone in Boston (where I stayed for a short 2 days), I realized that my SIM card was automatically switched over to T-Mobile even though I had only planned on using it in Bermuda. What’s great about this is that even though I only bought the Caribbean SIM card, the rates for using T-Mobile were quite similar (so you can bank on them being significantly cheaper than your regular Canadian roaming charges). Brightroam does all the prior work of contracting with these companies to provide these rates to consumers just like me.
As with calling, there is the usual slight delay when dialling your number, but it lasts for no more than a couple seconds and my calls worked perfectly without a problem in both Boston and Bermuda. Text messages worked fine as well in both Boston & Bermuda. I was expecting a difference in quality of services, but as it turns out, there really isn’t a huge difference in quality using Brightroam versus your typical Canadian telecom company. I was connected to Digicel while my father was connected to CellOne. Both telecom providers work on Bermuda and really saved us quite a bit. No one likes not being in touch with their family/friends while travelling in large groups, so having our cellphones on hand and working definitely made life easier.
At the end of the day, my experience with Brightroam in Bermuda (where I was expecting slow service since it’s an Island practically in the middle of the Ocean) was excellent and problem-free. I fiddled with quite a few settings to try and understand my Samsung Galaxy S, but for the most part if your phone is unlocked and set on default settings, you’ll have no problem using any of the Brightroam SIMs. As always though, if you do encounter a problem of some sort, our customer service team is always ready to tackle the problem with you (be it a phone conversation, Facebook message, a tweet or simply a blog comment!).
Stay tuned for an additional post on telecom services in Bermuda for those who are planning on consuming a lot of data while abroad!