My SXSW experience shows that if you aren't a VOIP or gadget guru like Alec Saunders or Andy Abramson and you are a Canadian travelling in the States then as of March 2008, the best thing to do to avoid extremely high Canadian mobile roaming rates is to:
- Get an unlocked, jailbroken, activated iPhone
- Buy a GoPhone from AT&T
- Activate it and slip the SIM into your iPhone. The $10 included with the phone is great if you are just calling folks on AT&T otherwise $50 will do you for a week. Unfortunately GoPhone data rates are a ripoff so using EDGE on your iPhone is prohibitively expensive
- SMS and phone others on AT&T for free and keep in touch! It worked great (texting and phoning with the iPhone is so much easier than T9 on my N95 or any other handset!) at SXSW. Now if only I could set up Twitter so that I only get SMS from my Twitter friends who are whereever I am travelling too, I could have kept in 24 hours a day sync with my Twitter SXSW crowd! (yes I know you can do this manually but there ought to be a way to do this semi-automatically!)
For the record I used my iPhone for SMS and phone calls with the GoPhone SIM and I used my N95 for video recording and photo uploading over WiFi. It worked great but most people couldn't master the mental S60 gymnastics that I had to do (e.g. frequent rebooting) to get the N95 to work with the flakey SXSW WiFi. And I used Skype to phone home for nearly free over WiFi from the hotel.