Heading to Canada? Toronto’s Similicious Helps Non-Canucks Avoid Crazy Roaming Fees

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Toronto-based startup Similicious may be the answer to Americans, Europeans and anyone else frequently travelling to Canada on business…and routinely getting assaulted by roaming charges.

It’s much like another startup we’ve covered in the past month, Roam Mobility, which provides the same service, but for Canadians travelling to the United States.

“Connecting to local networks can be expensive and time consuming. Why pay high activation fees, buy a new SIM card and create local carrier accounts just to stay connected for a few days?” asks the company. “When visiting Canada we can take care of all that for you at a fraction of the cost, and we’ll help you stay connected at affordable local prices.”

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Packages start at $44.99 for 500 mb of local data. It’s much more expensive than Roam Mobility’s equivalent plan for $14.95, but it’s a different story too. “The Canadian carriers and their pricing here is more expensive, and I don’t have access to better rates. Roam does a lot of daily rates, so you might get 50 mbs a day and you pay $8 a day for four days, whereas we just give you the full amount, you get 500 mbs and you can use it in one day or 30 days, whatever you need,” said CEO Adam Bacsalmasi.

Bacsalmasi buys sim cards in bulk from one of the “Big Three” wireless incumbents in Canada and activates the card a day before the customer is going to use it. He then ships it (for free in Canada) to the hotel they’ll be staying at. So the price at $44.99 essentially stays there, and his earnings come from a small service charge he adds on to the original cost of the card.

“Roaming fees can go up to $10 per megabite, which is pretty insane,” said the founder. “If you’re looking to make a few calls here and there roaming fees aren’t going to break the bank but if you want to check your email and go online it’s crazy expensive.”

His motivation for starting the service? He was in Paris last November with his wife and “couldn’t believe how hard it was to use my phone and to find a place to buy a sim card.” So every time he needed to use data, he inevitably had to return to the free wifi haven of his hotel just to load a few google maps for restaurants.

“When I got back to Toronto I took a look around if there was anything comparable and there are a few world sim cards but when it comes to data, the prices were insane,” Bacsalmasi told BetaKit. ”So I thought, ‘maybe I can try and fix this problem,’ and I set out to launch an ecommerce site, taught myself to code, built the site and started the business.”

Similicious claims its plans can save users up to 75 percent compared to data roaming charges by other carriers, and it uses 4G LTE and 3G HSPA connections for 75 Mb per second for a fast experience.

Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk is Managing Editor at Betakit. Prior to Betakit Joseph wrote for the National Post, Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun, Regina Leader Post, Techvibes and BC Business Online. Joseph often goes crazy on twitter during NHL and NFL games.