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Heading to College or University? Skip the Landline!

It’s a pretty exciting time around here.  My oldest is heading off to University in a few days time.  We’ve been working on planning and budgeting.

Over the weekend we did some digging into the cost of communications. We compared a Bell Canada land line, a Bell Student Cellular plan, and  Rogers “Campus Calling” Student Cellular plan.  Our current plan is for him to have Rogers Student Cellular plan, plus Hullo.  Here’s how all three stack up: 

  Bell Landline Bell Mobility Student Rogers Student
Service Fee  $     18.45  $     20.00  $     40.00
Network Charge / S.A.F.  $      4.95  $      6.95  $      6.95
Features Package  $     15.95  $              $            
Excess Usage  $     15.00  $            
150 Minutes LD  $     15.00  $     18.00  $            
911 Fee  $      0.19  $      0.75  $      0.50
Total  $     54.54  $     60.70  $     47.45
Taxes  $      7.64  $      8.50  $      6.64
Grand Total  $     62.18  $     69.20  $     54.09
Setup Charges
Connection fee    $     35.00  $     35.00
Phone  $     30.00  $     70.00  $     70.00
Total over 8 months  $   527.40  $   658.58  $   537.74
Total Until Graduation  $3,506.86  $3,974.55  $3,129.88

The Bell Landline includes nothing more than unlimited local telephone service.  No voice mail, no call waiting, caller ID, or any of the other things you might expect in a package.  On top of that you pay a $4.95 per month Network Charge.  To get the basic call waiting, voice mail, caller ID combination, you have to buy the “Flexibility 4” package for an additional $15.95 per month.  Bell’s long distance package is $.10/minute, or, budgeting for 150 minutes per month, $15.  The total package, with taxes, comes to $62.18 / month.  Setup fees are waived if you buy the feature package (the “Flexibility 4”), giving a total cost over 8 months, after purchasing the phone, of $527.40.

The Bell Mobility Student Package has a service fee of $20, which includes 250 minutes of daytime airtime, and unlimited nights and weekends (9PM to 7AM).  The features package is include.  However, at 250 minutes per month usage, we’ve budgeted an extra 50 minutes (at $0.30 / minute) for overage, given that the average household uses 300 minutes per month of talk time.  Your mileage may vary.  In addition, the system access fee is $8.95 / month and the cost of long distance on Bell Mobility is a little higher, at $.12 / minute.  It works out to $71.48 per month, with a onetime $35 connection fee, and a budget of $70 to buy a telephone on a 3 year contract.  Total for 8 months of phone service: $676.82.

The Rogers Student Package is the best of the bunch.  $40/month includes all the features, 250 minutes of daytime airtime, unlimited incoming local calls, unlimited calls between other Rogers “Campus Calling” student customers at his school, unlimited evening and weekends and 150 minutes of LD.  I haven’t budgeted for an excess usage charges, reasoning that  between the unlimited incoming local calls, and unlimited evenings and weekends, there shouldn’t be any excess.  In any case, all in, the Rogers package costs $54.09 / month, or (with setup costs) about $537.74 over 8 months.

When on campus or out with friends, he’ll be using his cell phone to make calls.  In his dorm room, he won’t have a landline.  We’ve given him a headset and a very nice HP DV1000t laptop that he can use to make calls with Hullo to friends at other Universities, as well as to friends at school. Essentially, Hullo has replaced his dorm room landline.  And we’ll make our calls to him with Hullo also, because it will reduce our costs and Hullo’s find / follow feature will allow us to always find him the most cost effective way.

With Hullo and a Rogers cell phone, he’ll pay less to talk more from wherever he is, and his friends and family can save money too. 

What could be better?

P.S.  If you would like to do your own calculations, here is a link to my Excel spreadsheet.

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Ellen August 28, 2006, 6:55 am

    Hey, why not use Skype for the long-distance in North America? It is free and not bad quality.

  • Alec August 28, 2006, 7:30 am

    Hey Ellen,

    Skype would definitely be an option. However, Hullo sounds better, is free, and has more advanced features. It's new, but it's worth looking at if you haven't already. Check out http://www.hullo.com.

  • Randy Charles Morin August 28, 2006, 8:27 am

    IMHO, the price difference is not significant enough to justify one plan over the other. I would go with a cell phone, but I'm sure there's better cell phone plans than Bell's.

  • Alec August 28, 2006, 9:57 am

    Randy, I think you're right. The BIG difference is that there are enough minutes in the cell plans now, and enough circumstances where calling is really cheap, that you can effectively substitute cell for landline.

  • Nida August 31, 2006, 11:28 pm

    hey. I am off to university too in a couple days and looked into this Rogers plan. I am all for it. I just had a question: is Rogers calling unlimited and the 1000 text msgs to any rogers customers?

  • Alec September 1, 2006, 5:00 am

    Nida, my understanding is that it's unlimited between students using Rogers. But you know what else I found out when we ordered? For the first three months (almost the whole term) it's 100% unlimited local calls. That's a pretty sweet deal.

  • Stephen September 2, 2006, 11:33 pm

    Alec, I've done my own research and agree with you entirely. Telus has a plan that's comparable to Rogers, but the Rogers plan is slightly superior (I believe Telus only offers 100 long distance minutes, or something like that). What's also worth considering, however, are the "corporate" plans offered by Telus, so long as you belong to a certain company, or have an Air Miles card, or – and this is particularly important – are a member of the Canadian Federation of Students, which most university students receive free of charge through their student council. These 'secret' plans can be quite superior to the standard ones offered and offer a greater degree of flexibility, but aren't readily available through their website.

  • Alec September 3, 2006, 5:05 am

    That's very interesting, Stephen. How did you find this out?

  • Timmy November 14, 2006, 10:39 am

    The only advantage to landlines are long distance rates TO your phone, and daytime talktime. If you're gonna be getting overseas calls it costs 2c to a landline or 20c-100c to a mobile in canada. If you're gonna use serious daytime minutes, the landline is much cheaper.

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