Roaming in Canada with North American Connect

I’ll be traveling to Canada soon. Has anyone tried the “North American Connect” add-on for BI in Canada?

Specifically, will I be able to make and receive calls, and use data?

I looked at the BI Reddit group, where some claimed roaming in Canada did not work, which was supposed to be enabled under the Early Access program.

I don’t have a definitive answer for you but think some context regarding the Boost Infinite subreddit may be helpful to those reading.

Boost Infinite offers 3 different network SIMs:

  1. The fabled “Rainbow” SIM, which provides DISH native coverage with domestic roaming to AT&T’s and/or T-Mobile’s networks where DISH native coverage is not available. Few phones are compatible with the “Rainbow” SIM and, unless they’ve since purchased a new compatible phone from Boost Infinite and obtained a “Rainbow” SIM, no former Republic Wireless members are using a “Rainbow” SIM.
  2. An AT&T network SIM. Former Republic members who were migrated from a 5.0 plan have AT&T network SIMs.
  3. A T-Mobile network SIM. Former Republic members who were migrated from a My Choice plan have T-Mobile network SIMs.

In theory, the “North America Connect” add-on works on any of Boost Infinite’s SIMs. The reality seems more complex, perhaps, explaining the variety of experiences reported in the Boost Infinite subreddit. “Early Access” Boost Infinite subscribers would, generally, have AT&T network SIMs.

The other thing I’ve noticed on the Boost Infinite subreddit is “North America Connect” is reported to work better in Mexico than in Canada. This might have to do with AT&T operating a cellular network in Mexico where it does not in Canada.

Finally, one fellow RWusers member has tried using Republic Wireless by DISH service in Canada unsucessfully:

@mwgardiner, to date, that remains the case on Boost Infinite, correct?

If I were still using Boost Infinite and traveling outside the U.S., I would have a plan B.

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As of July of last year my RW/BI line went inert when I crossed the border. I will be visiting Canada again at the end of next month. I will find out if it works then.

Just to be safe, I will spend the €4 ($4.27 at todays’ exchange rate) on a 7-day 1GB North American data eSIM profile from Manet Travel. This is €1 less than last year. The people I most want to hear from have access to some of the same chat/VoIP apps and the data will suffice when I am off WiFi on my Mint line. The cost of the Manet North American and Canada plans is identical at the 7-day 1GB point. Going the NA route lets me start with the profile in the US and then run tests on the BI line after I reach my destination without having to worry about stopping to change phone settings. If BI is still broken, I just switch back to the eSIM for the rest of the trip.

Last year Manet Travel charged the same for NA and Canada across the board. This year the Canada plans are cheaper than the NA plans above the 7-day 1GB point.

if @psteckler has an eSIM capable phone, a Canadian/North American eSIM might be a good idea.

If the phone is not eSIM capable and they travel a lot, then Using an eSIM profile on your non-eSIM phone might be helpful. Just be sure to check the directions on compatibility issues.

As an aside note: A data connection and Waze navigation can be a very good thing. The 401 expressway in Ontario is notorious for traffic jams and construction. Waze easily saved me an hour or more each way on my last trip by routing me around jams.

I called BI Customer Service, and they claim that with North America Connect enabled, I can call / receive calls in Canada, to / from the US and Canada.

Still, it would be good to know if anyone here has direct experience with that add-on.

My Plan B is to use Skype when connected to WiFi.

The most important thing is, I don’t want this to happen to me:

As I now understand that BI uses multiple networks, this may depend on if they have a single roaming partner Canada or if it depends on the network your BI phone runs on. Another factor is if the carrier you are on allows WiFi calling on your model of phone. AT&T will only allow it on a phone they (or a cooperating MVNO) sold you, regardless of what the plan says, T-Mobile will allow any capable phone as long as the MVNO contracted for WiFi calling.

Now that should work. I used Skype on a tablet to call RW/Dish when I was previously failing to have Canadian service. If you use them, just about any VoIP point-to-point app should work. Things like WhatsApp, Signal, Viber. and such will be able to reach others with the same app.

Capture some screen shots of your account options showing the North America Connect. If they manage to foul things up, that is your lever against them.

In my experience, this is overly broad.

I used both a factory unlocked Samsung Galaxy Note20 and a factory unlocked Google Pixel 6a with Republic Wireless by DISH AT&T network service. Neither phone was purchased from AT&T or an AT&T blessed MVNO. WiFi calling worked on both phones. It is true AT&T has historically maintained a whitelist of compatible phones and has been known to be picky about which features are supported on a specific phone but phones don’t necessarily need to be purchased from AT&T or intended for use on AT&T’s network for WiFi calling to be supported.

Conversely, there were a number of Motorola phones supported for WiFi calling on Republic Wireless by DISH T-Mobile network service that lost WiFi calling capability when Republic’s old secret sauce was removed. T-Mobile is not nearly as “uncarrier” as it was prior to the Sprint merger and now plays some of the same games historically played by AT&T and Verizon.

I guess that AT&T is being uneven in behavior then. My phone is on the “approved” list, but I didn’t buy it from AT&T. Mint/T-Mobile, WiFi calling works, BI/AT&T, nada.

Now phones targeted at RW losing WiFi calling when the RW backend went offline doesn’t surprise me in the least. I actually expected that to happen. Those may have never had standard carrier WiFi to begin with, or had it patched out to not interfere with the RW way of doing things. Even if it were possible to fix that with an OTA patch, the manufacturers may not have considered it worth the effort. YMMV I guess.

AT&T has two lists. The first, last updated in February of 2024, speaks to compatibility with AT&T’s cellular network. A phone being on this list is not a guarantee a specific service capability such as WiFi calling will work.

The second list does speak to specific service capabilities but was last updated in March of 2022. Generally, a newer model of the same brand would have the same service capabilities as older models of the same brand but there is still no guarantee of that.

Well, it surprised those who made the decision to remove Republic’s proprietary technology at the time. The presumption was since all My Choice supported phones were factory unlocked devices (whether purchased from Republic or from a third party retailer), they would just work inclusive of WiFi calling. Unlike the earlier Moto DEFY XT, E1, E2, G1, G3, X1 and X2 models used for 1.0/2.0 plans, My Choice supported phones did not use modified firmware. That was the whole point of Republic 3.0/4.0.

I’m back from Canada now. Since I was in WiFi range most of the time, I ended up using my Google Voice account for calls. I was able to send and receive calls on my tablet, with no associated charges.