Montreal move in two weeks and so disconnected
June 18, 2009 6:42 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving to Montreal (!) from the U.S. and need help with the tech-side of my move. Specifically, I'm seeking internet/cell phone provider recommendations.

I'm having a hard time choosing an internet and a cell provider in Montreal. Can anyone with experience recommend either or both? I'll be there for at least three years and am willing to sign a contract for cell/internet if the terms are good. I would like to spend no more than about $75/month for either one, and cheaper is, of course, always better.

Internet: I do a lot of uploading/downloading because I collaborate with people on audio projects via the internet, so I use sort of a lot of bandwidth. I'd say 50 GB/month is the minimum. For the same reason, I require a pretty fast connection to maintain my sanity. I don't plan on having a land line, so cable is probably my best option, though I'm open to others.

Right now I'm thinking either Skynet, which looks pretty great, or Vidéotron, whose website is currently down for maintenance. (This does not bode well for them.)

Cell service: Is anyone in Quebec happy with theirs? I will probably be using Skype to call the U.S. and make calls at home, but I definitely need a cell plan as well. I don't need tons of minutes; 250-500 or so should suffice. I'm thinking of getting a Blackberry or, more likely, an iPhone, so info on good data plans would be nice also.

So far, Fido looks like the best option for me. Does anyone have experience with them? Other recommendations? I've read forum threads, etc., but I trust you guys the most.

Any other helpful info on moving to Montreal, logistical or otherwise, would be a lovely bonus. Thanks so much!
posted by nosila to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: acanac for internet is cheap at 19$ a month for unlimited bandwith. videotron is good but expensive.

as for cell service, don't get an iphone as rogers and fido don't offer unlimited data and they rob people on price plans.

if you go the BB route check out Bell which offers CDMA service but their BB plans also offer unlimited internet usage whereas Rogers ( commonly referred to as Robbers ) and Fido will rape you.
posted by dawdle at 6:52 AM on June 18, 2009

also for cell phone, I'm actually considering dumping my Montreal based BB plan with Bell as I live in Toronto now and don't use that line much anymore except for BB data usage. you could take over the plan if you think it's an attractive package.

pm me if you're interested.
posted by dawdle at 6:55 AM on June 18, 2009

I don't know how it is now, but all the different DSL that I have tried in Montreal (to avoid the costly, but quite reliable Videotron) were horrible. Slow, inconsistent, unreliable, crap. However, this was maybe four or five years ago, so it might be better now.
posted by Grither at 6:56 AM on June 18, 2009

Best answer: You get: cheap and unreliable, or overpriced and fairly reliable, for either ISPs or cell plans. Most internet plans have upload/download limits, and massive surcharges if you go over them.

Do not choose before you get here. When you move in, ask someone in your same building if they have cell service in the house, and how their internet service is. I have used both Bell and Videotron, and they both have reasonable speeds and good reliability, though Bell is more variable: in some locations it is faster than Videotron, in others slower.

I have no idea about data plans.

Unlike in much of the US, don't plan on going grocery shopping at night here. We have shorter opening hours for shopping in general. It's not hugely onerous, just something to think of as a change. (I find it both more and less pleasant than being able to go grocery shopping at 3 am.)

If you have any more specific questions, feel free to contact me. I lived in the US for a few years for grad school, so I can probably address the culture shock in the reverse direction.
posted by jeather at 7:51 AM on June 18, 2009

Best answer: For internet you won't always have the full range of choices; coverage is often restricted by location, e.g. you call Videotron, they ask for your postal code, then they say they can't help you. Hearkens back to the days when Sympatico and Videotron were the only options and they staked out mutually exclusive infrastructures. Do NOT trust their website to let you know if your area is covered, you'll only get a real answer from someone on the phone.
I have Sympatico (Bell), it's okay. We have Videotron at the office, and it's okay too. You'll find detractors for both but meh, if it works it works. Our unlimited plan has me downloading, playing mmorpgs, etc with few problems.

For a cell phone I use Rogers and I like them. Got a BB Curve for $50 with a plan renewal at Christmas. My Rogers Blackberry plan costs me about ~$50/month and it's been good for me (like you, I use Skype for most daily communication but live via email on my BB every day). They're pretty proactive with customer service, so that's been a good experience too - when they improved their BB data plans they called me to let me know and change my plan - basically same price but much more data, and I wouldn't have known if they hadn't called.
Rogers also offers full packages with internet, phone, cable etc. I've only used their cell plans, but it's an option that might simplify your life. My SO, who handles the ISP bills, prefers Sympatico as he says it's cheaper for unlimited.

I'm a local, so please feel free to ping me by mefimail if you have any questions about whatever when you get here - happy to help! Montreal is a great place to live, you'll love it here.
posted by Billegible at 7:58 AM on June 18, 2009

I use Videotron for Cable TV and High-Speed Cable Internet, for 55 channels and a 20 GB limit I pay $77/month including taxes. Once I move in a few months, I'll probably have land line phone service with them too and the total should be about $100/month. Videotron has several packages available but their website is not terribly friendly, it's much better to call and speak to a rep. I like being with Videotron, they are reliable and their customer service people are friendly and competent.

Good luck with the move, and if you have any other questions about life in la Grande Ville de Montréal, feel free to PM me.
posted by Vindaloo at 8:02 AM on June 18, 2009

I just PMed you re: Bell Mobility.
posted by evadery at 8:25 AM on June 18, 2009

Best answer: Teksavvy is widely regarded as the best ISP in Canada and it appears that they have service in Montreal. $30/month for 200GB cap (and pretty reasonable overage too). If you don't have a phone line you can get 'dry loop' service for a few dollars more.

Teksavvy uses Bell lines but if anything goes wrong, they deal with Bell for you. I recently had a problem with my line and every time I called Teksavvy (mostly to escalate Bell not following through on appointments), a real live person in customer suport picked up by the second ring!
posted by Gortuk at 9:19 AM on June 18, 2009

Fido is owned by Rogers and shares the same GSM network. Fido is their low-cost alternative so expect basic phones and cheaper rates tailored for heavy texting and low voice usage.

Both offers the iphone at the same price and with the same data plan : 30$ for 6 gig and they allow thetering. Not unlimited but still pretty good.
posted by racingjs at 10:19 AM on June 18, 2009

We use Teksavvy (in Ontario)and they are fantastic. Good prices (we pay $41/month) for no caps and decent speed.
posted by saradarlin at 11:47 AM on June 18, 2009

Depending on whether this is a permanent move or a limited-term one, you might also consider retaining your US cell phone. Our US carrier (Verizon) would have let us add Canada to our "local" calling area for ~$15/month; I know a few people (here in Canada temporarily) who have gone with that sort of plan and kept their US phones. Of course, then everyone in Montreal who wants to call you has to deal with you having a US number. (Rogers, our carrier now, unfortunately offers no equivalent plan here for calls back to the US -- their loss, really, as I probably would've paid it but now just use Skype.) Our totally subjective impression was that comparable cell plans are a fair bit more expensive here than in the US -- e.g., things like voicemail, call waiting, etc are not always included in the cheapest plans, whereas they typically were in the US -- but in all honesty we didn't shop around that much. Anecdotally, though, I don't know anyone here with a reasonable plan who pays what we paid in the US (which was less than $40/month for more minutes than we could use). This is in Toronto; maybe there are more/better options in Montreal.
posted by chalkbored at 12:16 PM on June 18, 2009

Best answer: In Canada at the current time it's not a question of the good choice but the least bad choice.

I've moved around a bit between different providers recently and have friends who discuss this kind of thing (obsessively!) and my current suggestions are as follows:

1. For mobile, the least bad solution right now is Rogers (though this is somewhat based on the fact that Bell mobile coverage in my (central) 'hood is (weirdly) spotty. For all of Rogers' problems (they would physically assault their users if they could make a buck from doing so), they do have a very good network. Good enough that I don't know of anyone around here who complains of iPhone battery life (since searching for towers or whatever eats tons of batteries a good network is the most critical component in battery life outside the device itself).

I would avoid low-end Rogers brand Fido (used to be a separate company with a very good rep). Most people I know who stayed with Fido when they moved to the iPhone are unhappy with it.

One other thing about Rogers - there are faint signals that they are starting to make some real improvement

Coming soon (if not already) will be a Videotron mobile phone service, but I don't know many details about this. Bell - it's unfathomable but if anything they have a worse rep than Rogers.

2. I recently moved from years of Bell DSL to Videotron's service and I'm pretty happy overall, though it can get pricey. I'm surprised their site was down - generally though not the prettiest site in the world, they actually have quite a good online service.

3. If you want digital cable I also suggest Videotron. A very nice thing they offer (that Rogers cable didn't when I lived in Ontario) is an a la carte service - i.e., you don't buy a whole package of pre-defined channels, you buy a package of 20 or 30 in addition to the "basic" service and self-select (one by one) the specific channels you would like.
posted by mikel at 8:30 PM on June 18, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks so much, everyone! You've all been very helpful. I'll sort through all of this soon.
posted by nosila at 8:45 PM on June 18, 2009

I used Fido, one of their cheap unlimited incoming calls plans, together with yakcell, which lets you make outgoing calls as incoming calls, for super cheap unlimited calling. Most of my friends were with Fido, since it's the cheapest (and really as far as I could tell, not worse than Rogers). I didn't have a smartphone, however.

You'll have fewer internet options if you don't have a landline. Videotron works b/c it's cable, but for dry loop all the resellers sell Bell lines anyway, and charge extra, and Bell came out the cheapest for me.
posted by Salamandrous at 1:21 PM on June 19, 2009

Response by poster: For posterity, I went with Teksavvy for internet service and am thus far really happy with it, and even happier with their amazing customer service. I think I'm going to go for an Android-based phone through Rogers soon, which appears to be only somewhat awful.
posted by nosila at 11:46 AM on July 11, 2009

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