MIFI math: how I avoided spending $1,900 (and counting)


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A few days ago I ranted a bit about the onerous rates of US data roaming for Canadians. I’ve heard dozens of horror stories about this since that post, including $30K bills for 2 days of use.

I bought a T-Mobile MIFI device for $125, and a 5GB SIM for $50. Right now, though, you can buy the MIFI online for $25, as they’re having a promotion.

I decided to do the math. I’ll have used this 5GB data plan for nearly a month, and according to T-Mobile’s (good, transparent) diagnostics, in that time I’ve used 1.9 GB of data. I’m getting roughly 4Mbps of data down—enough to watch a movie if I feel like it.

MIFI usage details

I then compared this to Rogers’ current US data roaming rates. They were a bit hard to find by searching on Google—the page that’s indexed by the search engine (http://www.rogers.com/web/content/wireless-network/wn_usdataroaming) is blank.

Rogers data rates screenshot

I eventually found the page by going to Rogers first, and grabbed the pricing plans listed there. Based on this math, I’d have spent over $1,900 without a roaming plan (using incredibly badly named “preferred” rate.)

Comparing Rogers and a no-contract MIFI

Even with the most preferential plan, I’d have been able to buy two MIFI devices with data plans. And now that I have a MIFI, my data costs me around 12% of the Rogers rates. Oh, and I’ve still got a few days at SXSW and in NYC. So don’t quote me on that 12%—it’ll get even better before I’m done.

If this incenses you, you’re not alone. I wrote a bunch more about it in a previous post, but more than anything, I really want everyone to do this instead of consenting to the highway robbery that Canadian carriers get away with. It hurts Canadian business and holds back our technology growth, and it has to stop.

(Oh, and if you’re curious—no, I have nothing to do with T-Mobile. Use anyone’s MIFI. You can buy an unlocked one on Amazon pretty easily. T-Mobile just has the least locked-in contract of the US carriers.)