Long distance cell phones between Hamilton and Peterborough
June 18, 2008 6:16 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I are going to different universities in the fall - hers in Peterborough, mine in Hamilton. What should we do about long distance phone calls?

Since the cell phone world seems to change every year, I didn't find any previous posts that were very helpful.

Neither of us have ever had cell phones... so it may be time that we left the stone age. It would be nice to have a phone we could take with us, considering that we both have very active lifestyles. The drawback, of course, is that cell phone companies in Canada are apparently evil.

Based on the research I've done so far, the Telus Share plan looks like our best option. Should we be wary? Are there better options?

I think Voip would be the cheapest way to go, since the basic idea is unlimited long distance between us (it would be nice to call our parents in Toronto and Vancouver once in awhile too)... but I have no idea where to go to set that up in either Hamilton or Peterborough.

Other things to know:

-she doesn't care about what phone she uses. I would like something I could sync with my Mac. The iPhone hits Canada in July...
-local outgoing calls would be minimal: 100 minutes/month each should suffice
-texting between us would be nice, but not necessary
-local texting doesn't really matter

Any advice on long distance plans, cell phone companies, voip, or even landlines would be useful.
posted by ndicecco to Technology (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Swims through most networks, sounds great, costs nothing, lets you do video conferencing.

You'll need a computer on each end, but what university student doesn't have one anyway?
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:19 PM on June 18, 2008

Seconding Skype. It's free ... and it works.
posted by aroberge at 6:27 PM on June 18, 2008


But if you go the cellphone route:

Rogers is your friend. Get a basic plan with MY5 long distance on top (I think it's $10, but you can bargain it down). Basically the MY5 long distance gives you the option to enter 5 frequently called numbers (wherever in Canada) and lets you call them whenever for no extra charge.

I've been with Rogers for years and I love them.
posted by 913 at 6:43 PM on June 18, 2008

Response by poster: Agreed, skype is a good thing. The iChat built into Leopard is also nice for video conferencing. Buuutt... I'd still like to know if there are any good options for when we don't want to take our computers with us.

I very much appreciate the MY5 suggestion. I'll look into it.
posted by ndicecco at 6:48 PM on June 18, 2008

I'm not sure If your relationship is at this point yet, or if plans work this way in Canadia, but if you have both phones under the same account, you may be able to get free calls to/from each other's phones. That's how so-called "family plans" usually work here in the States.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:23 PM on June 18, 2008

Agreeing with everyone about Skype and Rock Steady about the family plan. It made it a lot easier to talk to my girlfriend while I was at school and not have to worry about the bill.
posted by InsanePenguin at 7:33 PM on June 18, 2008

Skype video chat is great.
posted by Spurious at 7:47 PM on June 18, 2008

Two kids off to distant universities? You will hate me for this, but I would avoid a family plan with a two-year commitment, unless you have a cellular prenup.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:50 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

ACN to ACN calling is free on their "Connect" plan. Network access fee in Ontario is $1.95 per month, provided your average use in addition to ACN to ACN is less than 3 hours per month.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:13 PM on June 18, 2008

Canadian, cell user, with (ack! SPIT HATE DIE BURN) Bell. Most 'family plans' in Canada cover only local calls, not long distance.

However.. Rogers Home Phone is free to call any other Rogers Home Phone. I think they may have expanded that to any Rogers customer calling any Rogers customer, not sure. And since Rogers will have exclusivity on the iPhone.

More caveats: if you're both living in res, the school may throttle internet traffic, making things like VOIP/Skype problematic. That's only anecdotal, don't know what McMaster & Trent (presumably?) have in terms of such policies.

You should also be aware that the CRTC is in the process of auctioning off large portions of spectrum to new entrants to the mobile market, so there is likely to be a new contender within the next month or thereabouts. Google "wireless auction canada" to get some info.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:40 PM on June 18, 2008

Xpresscall + a cell plan with unlimited evenings and weekends. Used it, loved it.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:18 PM on June 18, 2008

Windows Live Messenger has worked a lot better than Skype for me for video calls, because the text chat on Skype just isn't as convenient and I run msn anyway to chat to other people, so Skype is just another program to run. If you both have computers, get webcams (you can get a decent one for $25, and it's worth it if you're in a long distance relationship) and then use the video call feature on messenger. You can just leave the chat window up if you want so you can see each other while you study or whatever, and then if one of you has something to say you can.

If you're both very active and not prone to constantly using a computer, though, you probably still want cell phones, but it's nice to see someone when you talk to them and is worth the cost of a webcam.
posted by Polychrome at 6:15 AM on June 19, 2008

Reaffirming: Skype works on Mac and Windows. And sometimes a good padded headset with boom mic is more comfortable than holding a phone up to your ear. All you both need is an internet connection and surely every college dorm has one of those by now.

If you don't do that, AT&T (formerly Cingular) has a deal where you have unlimited phone calls to other AT&T members, 24/7. The only downside to this is your phone battery will die, and you'll have a monthly cell phone charge. Also, cell phones are like credit cards, you can get one and think you'll say "i'll only use this for ______" but then once you have it the convenience can get costly.

But it's good you're looking at this now. I had a long distance relationship in college and worked up $700 in phone bills in one month (on-campus phones are REALLY expensive as my college adds a surcharge for all long distance calls), so you're doing good in researching this, and saving yourself thousands in the long run.
posted by arniec at 6:32 AM on June 19, 2008

nth-ing Skype over cell phones; I've always found a headset more comfortable than holding a phone, and it lets you do video chats too. AND it's free for computer-computer calls. You can also add some cash value to your Skype account and use it to call her phone. Skype works on both windows and mac. I've yet to find a Mac client for the MSN network that supports video/voice chat.

I have no idea about long-dist cell phone plans sorry :(
posted by Xianny at 11:00 AM on June 19, 2008

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