Please help me pick a mobile phone plan in British Columbia
December 22, 2011 2:48 PM   Subscribe

Please help me pick a mobile phone plan in British Columbia.

I am moving back to Canada from the US and I need a reasonable phone plan.

Must haves:
1. Subsidized iPhone 4s
2. Good data plan, as I plan to use Skype to call the USA and I will be streaming audio and probably video
3. Good voice coverage in Vancouver BC

One of the following must be true:
1. Won't bankrupt me if I roam to USA or
2. There is some sort of service that allows me to re-route voice to a US pay as you go phone

Nice to have:
1. Device upgrades are available as part of the plan without waiting 3 years

Are there any reasonably priced alternatives out there for this sort of use? Thanks
posted by crazycanuck to Shopping (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I live around surrey central. I use skype more than my phone but have been more than happy with Wind They're a discount carrier with a focus on prepaid and flat rates whilst inside local calling zones serviced by their towers. When I went to California this summer it appeared they had some sort of roaming agreement with Tmobile.

Generally you buy your phones outright and get service month to month. Pretty cheap if you don't leave the LMR. AWS service only though.
posted by mce at 4:44 PM on December 22, 2011

I'm not sure about the roaming part, but Telus fits the bill on all other accounts.

Wind is OK and has good prices, but they are on the Rogers network and Rogers has pretty crappy coverage outside of urban areas (if that matters to you).
posted by asnider at 5:01 PM on December 22, 2011

Best answer: Wind is OK and has good prices, but they are on the Rogers network and Rogers has pretty crappy coverage outside of urban areas (if that matters to you).

I can't speak for Vancouver but Wind absolutely is not part of the Rogers network in Ontario. They operate on a different frequency altogether--the same frequency as Public and Mobilicity. Further, the iPhone does not work on Wind. This can be verified on their own site.

In my experience there is no service in Canada that suits all your needs. There really are no plans in Canada that the iPhone works on that offer a "good data plan". They're all ridiculously priced.

Roaming in the USA on any network (including the three cheap Canadian ones (Wind, Public, and Mobilicity) is ridiculous. When I travel to the USA I simply get a sim from a local carrier. For instance, at the moment I'm on a TMobile plan in California and it's $2 per day unlimited everything.

The only reasonably priced data plans in Canada do not work with the iPhone. I use Mobilicity and pay a measly $27.50 a month for unlimited everything, including international long distance. The same plan does not even exist on the networks that use iPhone. (I use a Samsung Galaxy S II which, imo, kicks the iPhone's ass).

When I was with an iPhone on Fido, I paid approx $80 per month and nothing except text msgs were unlimited. Voice was 1000 minutes, I think. Data was 500mb, I believe. Ridiculous.

Though you don't want to hear it, I'd check into a top-of-the-line Android phone that works on all networks (Rogers, Fido, Bell, Telus, Mobilicity, Wind, Public) and then sign up for one of the cheaper ones and see if it suits your needs. If it doesn't, switch, as the cheaper ones do not have contracts.

When you factor in the cost of the plans, you're essentially paying an extra $600+ per year to use an iPhone in Canada. That does not include the cost of the phone itself and that price never goes away.

So, sorry for the off-topic answer but since you said you were looking for a "reasonable" plan for iPhone, I'm here to tell you it doesn't exist in Canada, to my knowledge.

I paid $400 for my Samsung Galaxy S II on Craigslist. Cost of Mobilicity for a year is $330 and includes unlimited everything, so that's $730 for a year and then after that it's $330 or less per year.

iPhone in Canada will cost you $160 plus tax for the phone and $780 per year for a plan with 300 minutes and 2gb of data or $1200 per year for 1000 minutes and 4gb data + $144 a year for call display/voicemail.

In addition to those ridiculous prices and plans... both are contingent on a 3 year contract. Neither includes text messaging, which is extra. Don't want the contract? Phone jumps to $650; plans stay the same.

Compare my $730 for the first year and $330 per year totalling $1440 for 3 years (though I'm not on a contract so can leave anytime) for unlimited everything to Bell's $1504 for the first year and $1344 for each year after making $4192 for the full 3 year contract for capped minutes/data and no text.

Those numbers are based on Bell's rates for BC. In my experience Rogers and Fido and Telus are pretty much comparably priced. I'm getting a great phone and 3 years unlimited service for the price of less than 1 year with an iPhone on Bell with capped service.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:12 PM on December 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

Ah yes, I should have been more clear. As YSSTOG said, there is no iPhone plan in the country worth speaking about. None. All of the 'discount' brands operate on the AWS spectrum and there s no AWS iPhone. My understanding is that it's cheaper to put up new AWS towers in a couple cities than it is to pay ruinous rental rates to one of the incumbents to access their networks.

Personally I have yet to find any one offering that makes me happy but my frustrations are reasonably mollified by the use of multiple devices. The aforementioned wind voice service, a tells data device for traveling, a wind hotspot for every day, and an iPod for most of the non-telephone-smart-phoneish-type-activities.
posted by mce at 8:49 PM on December 22, 2011

Response by poster: Damn, now the only question is an iPhone $2500 better than a Droid. Guess I had better go back to the phone store and find out...
posted by crazycanuck at 10:03 PM on December 22, 2011

crazycanuck, I assure you that the iPhone is not $2500 better than a top-of-the-line Android. I had one and it's a great phone but I much prefer the Galaxy S II. Lighter, thinner, more durable, seems just as fast to me, does everything I need it to do, works fine with my Mac (Lion).

Here's the real-time video demo of my phone (actually, mine's a bit larger/faster than this one). There are numerous models of the Galaxy S II. If you want the one that works on all networks so that you're free to switch if there is not good coverage in your area, you want to get the T-989, also known as the Hercules. I found mine on Craigslist by searching those terms or T-Mobile Galaxy S II. Telus also has a branded one. You buy it (or any Android) and then just get it unlocked for $20. Simple.

Here's some guy comparing the two phones.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 12:03 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have an unlocked Galaxy 2s on its way. Thanks You Should See the Other Guy.
posted by crazycanuck at 7:38 AM on December 28, 2011

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