Mobilicity's "family & friends" offer [expires Nov 7; $65 unlimited everything plan on sale for $35] along with a $100 credit for opening a new account [ended Oct 31] got me and many others to try the service. There were line-ups out the door at Pacific Mall last Sunday as people crowded in to subscribe to the service.
I am of two minds wrt the new carriers. I know the network coverage is not as solid as the incumbent big-3, reception inside office buildings and shopping malls can be spotty and there is the extra-cost issue of roaming fees for making and receiving calls or using data outside Mobilicity's limited coverage area. Mobilicity doesn't permit voice roaming (on Rogers) within its area so as to avoid 'surprises' and the 20 cent a minute fee outside the are is not so bad given the very low cost of the plan. Not receiving calls because one is in a mall is not so good, however and there is no fall-back.
Data, is expensive but at least that can be turned off with WIFI as a fall back.
Those of us who spend most of our time in the GTA benefit from high quality and robust wireless service from the big-3 incumbents (and their sub-brands) and no roaming fees within Canada for voice or data but pay for it through higher fees. The threat of competition and lower prices from the newcomers hasn't had much of an impact on the incumbents. Rogers, Bell and Telus seem to be proceeding on the assumption that Canadians will accept their higher fees in exchange for more dependable service, or that most are still unaware there are options.
I understand the appeal of unlimited plans for students who use their phones a lot and don't have much money to spend. They probably spend a lot of time within Toronto and can tolerate some loss of quality for significant savings. For me, I can afford the higher priced services but appreciate the savings if the compromises in quality are not excessive. My tolerance may or may not be higher than that of other readers.
So with 6 weeks left in an excellent Telus contract (that can't be renewed or converted to smart phones operating on the HSPDA network), I decided to test Mobilicity and see if the "pro" (low cost) would out-weigh the "cons" (see above). I bought a Blackberry Curve 9300 to go with the unlimited voice and data plan. There are cheaper devices available I could have used for the experiment but I wanted to avoid "cheap phone" related problems and have something that would have some re-sale value if I decide not to stay with Mobilicity.
So, to the experience so far.
The process of opening and setting-up the account was smooth. Absolutely no glitches. I'm monitoring the account through the online portal to verify I'm not being charged for long distance, data, etc. The $100 new account credit appeared within 12 hours so I am covered for a lot or roaming. I can use the credit to pay the monthly bill if I want. There was no requirement to go on automatic credit card billing either so I am in control if I want to end the experiment.
So far I have used the service at home (just north of Don Mills and Steeles) and downtown in the area along Bloor from Sherbourne to Bay (working week, not much free time to wander). At home, I get 3-4 bars of signal on the ground floor and 5 bars on the second floor. Call quality is very good. At home, data is coming over WIFI. No issues with signal on the bus to Don Mills station; it's SOS only in the station (Rogers signal only) and nothing on the platforms (same as all the carriers). Underground at Yonge/Bloor and in The Bay concourse, the phone stays on SOS rather than picking up the Mobilicity signal BUT when I go outside and get Mobi's signal, I can come back into the underground mall and retain an acceptable, if weaker, signal. Significantly, in the Manulife Centre (Bay and Bloor) where Telus CDMA often fails, Mobilicity has a good strong signal on both upper and lower floors.
Away from WIFI, data is not as speedy as I expected but coming from a CDMA BB Pearl experience, I'm not the best judge. It is nice to be able to use data without any regard for cost or volume downloaded.
Over the next few weeks I'll be trying the service in a lot more places, seeing how far north of Highway #7 Mobilicity coverage exists in "real life", etc. That, and trying to get over iPhone envy.
Comments from other Mobilicity subscribers about their experience would be welcomed.