Getting smart about cell phone plans in Canada

by alec on June 29, 2007

Today is the beginning of a concerted effort on my part to figure out where the soft spots are in cellular rates, here in Canada, and to exploit them.  I currently spend just north of $500 every month with Rogers using my BlackBerry.  That comprises $330 for 1750 minutes on the North American one-rate plan, which allows me to roam anywhere in the US and Canada at the same rate, plus $100 for 200M of monthly data, some minor service features, and (of course) taxes.  Because it's a business plan, and unlimited roaming, Rogers has said "no" to any notion of free evenings and weekends, or any other plan that might give you a similar break.

So…

Yesterday I cancelled the North American one-rate plan, substituting a Canada-wide 1250 minute plan for it.  The Canada-wide plan allows me to roam anywhere in Canada, but not the US. I only visit the US for a few days every other month, so this is likely not going to impact me. Price: $150.  Savings: $180. 

This morning I activated a new SIM for my Nokia N95.  I added the Rogers MegaTime 200 plan, for $39, which allows unlimited evening and weekends (starting at 5PM), plus unlimited on-network calls to Rogers customers.  In addition, I added the new MyFive promotion, which gives me unlimited calling between 5 people on any network. The people I call most are my partner Howard, my home, my parents, and my brother-in-law.  They're all in MyFive, which means I don't pay to call any of them. Cost: $10.  And, of course, the obligatory caller-ID / voice mail and data plan package: $20.

And finally, I added a TalkPlus account. The TalkPlus account was the impetus for starting down this path because, aside from its many many other benefits, TalkPlus allows me make any long distance call a local call and charges me between 1 and 3 cents per minute to call most places in the US and Canada.  This is one helluva deal compared to Rogers' 30 cents per minute. Plus, I can simply buy a pay as you go card anytime I am travelling in the US, and experience the same benefits.

At this point I've likely reduced my bill by about $100 / month. But I have many more minutes and much more data than I will every likely use.  For example, the N95 is a WiFi enabled phone as well, and I will try to make calls in my office using our WiFi hotspot and TruPhone in order to avoid burning up that precious 200 minutes of airtime that Rogers has so stingely allocated on this plan.

Next month, I will fine tune the plans after examining my bills.  My intent is for the BlackBerry to remain my mobile email device, but to shift as much of the calling traffic from it to the lower priced consumer plans as I possibly can. 

Stay tuned!

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