I feel like a genius even though I’m far from it. Some people may not know this, but Canada has some of the most expensive cell phone plans in the world. Researching data plans in Canada is also a painstaking event in itself. But we are now champions of the Canadian data plan…at least we think we are. This post is not only some advice about data plans in Canada for my fellow hosers, but for U.S. Americans too, as it’s pretty much the same boat for y’all south of the border.
Here’s the deal. There are some big players named Rogers and Bell who pretty much control the Canadian cell phone industry when it comes to network providers. Meaning they also pretty much control the data plans in Canada too. There are others; Fido, Wind; Koodo; Virgin; Telus, but the infrastructure largely belongs to Rogers and Bell.
Data Plans in Canada – an unnecessarily complicated thing?
We started things off by looking at talk/text plans because that’s what is thrown in our face. Mistake. Totally overpriced and overkill for what we need. Talking? I don’t talk to people on the phone. And texting? What is this 2001?
Okay, here’s a little history and some understanding for my fellow Canucks and those neighbours to the south if you’re still reading along. Basically, when it comes to data plans, you’re getting screwed worse than Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption.
In Latin America you buy a card with a dollar amount; $5, $10, or $15 dollar denominations. This amount gets added to your “account”. From there, YOU DECIDE how you want to allocate those funds in your account – whether you want to put some money towards phone minutes, or data. Confused? Don’t be, it’s simple. Every month we would buy a $15 card and get 30 days/2GB of data, whichever came first. Periodically we’d buy a $5 card for phone minutes, and at 6 cents a minute/text we’d be able to have a lengthy conversation. And if someone texted us we would scold them and reply “Why are you texting me, WhatsApp me. PS. You owe me 6 cents”. We did need to use the phone occasionally, but again, we’d have likely belittled the caller; “Why are you phoning me, WhatsApp me”. So, at a maximum of $20/month for 2GB of data and some phone minutes, we were all set. It was great. It was simple. It wasn’t complex or confusing. There weren’t an abundance of unnecessary choices. Then we came “home”.
So here’s an attempt at how data plans in Canada works. You try to get anything in Canada and they try and sell you on “Unlimited Talk and Text”. Want the cheapest package? Okay, $20 gets you unlimited talk and text…but no data. And if you want 500MB of data, that’s somehow a lot extra, at least $10.
The cheapest plan with talk/text and data we saw was $30. All “unlimited”. Let’s use that “unlimited” term loosely. Search around and you’ll see your data gets throttled. But that’s not the point of this article. Here’s a good article about how many of us Canucks get Ca-f@cked when it comes to data plans in Canada.
Having our own phone allows us A LOT more freedom than those who opt for the new/contract phones. We’re not locked into a contract at a minimum amount (typically $50/month package). Nor do we have to remain under contract for the mandatory two years. Of course the corporate cell phone guys are always coming out with newer/better/cooler/must-have-ier phones. But our S5 seems fine right now and even if something happens down the road I’m not forking out $700-$800 for a new phone. Not happening. Ever.
In regards to cheap data plans in Canada, Fido (and other providers) have Tablet plans where you don’t get talk/text minutes. I said pardon? That’s right, for $15 a month we can get 1 GB of data, and 3 GB for $25 – SWEET! That’s all we wanted. And they have these tablet plans in the USA too. The best part being you can get these plans to use on your regular cell – it doesn’t have to be for a tablet. Oh, and one better – our SIM was included in the package so we didn’t have to fork out even more money for that! Don’t even get me started on the price of SIM cards in North America vs. Latin America.
But why didn’t anyone mention these data plans to us before? Likely because it’s uncommon to NOT need talk/text here. And even more likely that the providers don’t want us to figure this out either. They want you to use talk/text for some insane archaic reason. But let’s face it, even if people did start making a mass exodus from the talk/text, the big boys upstairs would still have us by the short and curlies and would probably just increase rates.
With tablet plans we don’t get to use phone minutes or texting, although we can receive SMS messages. But hey, we don’t want to talk or text. BTDT. It’s time for North America to get with the program when it comes to pay-as-you-go plans. Start sticking it to your provider and use data only.
Oh, you still want to talk to someone?
- There’s an app for that!
It’s called MagicJack and for $10/year you can even get a phone number to make and receive calls. Or just use WhatsApp. The phone part is still a bit quirky but you can easily leave messages to each other. Besides, you don’t always want to talk to someone when they call anyway!
Now go sell all your stuff and ditch your talk/text plan!