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Denis54 2008-09-20 12:40 AM

Which company for 5 calls per year?
I want to buy a phone that will stay in my wife's car in case of emergency. I doubt the phone will be used more than about 5 times a year.

Which company should I go to? I do not care about cost per minute. All I want is the cheapest way to get 365 days coverage.

I have done a bit of research and I have found the following:

7-11 seems to have a $25 card that last 365 days. That would be perfect for me.

Petro-Canada has a $20 card that last 180 days

President' Choice does not look attractive.

I know very little about cell phones. If I should look at other companies please let me know. Your guidance will be appreciated.

Gord Lacey 2008-09-20 10:48 AM

Sounds like 7-11 is the cheapest option; I don't think any of the major carriers would have a plan that could come anywhere near being that cheap. I'd say your biggest problem will be ensuring the phone is charged for when it's needed.


PhotoJim 2008-09-20 11:06 AM

I agree about the issue of the phone being charged. Lithium ion batteries in modern phones self-discharge at a fairly rapid rate. You'll want to charge the phone a couple of times a month at a minimum. Luckily, lithium ion batteries love to be topped up regularly (they don't need to be drained first, despite what many people think). I have a Virgin Mobile phone that sees very infrequent use (less than an hour a year) and the battery is still going strong after 3 years because of regular top-ups.

As for the carrier, your first concern should be coverage. If your phone is for emergencies and your phone won't work when you have one, it's not doing you any good. Essentially there are two networks in Canada (slightly oversimplified but accurate enough for the purpose). There is Rogers, which uses a technology called GSM, and there is Bell, Telus, Aliant, SaskTel, MTS and a few tiny regional carriers, which use a technology called CDMA. (Bell and Telus overlap each other somewhat, but still permit you to use the other's network, which is why I lump them together.)

There are also MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators). Petro-Canada, 7-Eleven and Fido are MVNOs running on Rogers. President's Choice and Virgin are MVNOs running on the CDMA networks.

If the Rogers network will do, Petro-Canada and 7-Eleven are hard to beat. If not, you will want to check out Virgin and President's Choice. I don't know the fine print on the PC offer, but Virgin gives you a year for a $100 top-up.

Another, slightly peculiar option if you think the Rogers network will do is to use T-Mobile USA. If you put $100 onto the phone in the first year, you get a full year of validity. After that, $10 top-ups extend your expiry by a year. In the long run, this will be your cheapest option for very infrequent usage. The catches are that your airtime in Canada will cost 59 cents a minute, and you will have an American phone number for incoming calls. (I gather the phone will never be on unless you are making an outgoing call, so the incoming number is largely irrelevant.) On the plus side, you will have a perfect phone to use when you travel to the US. Instead of paying a dollar or two a minute with a Canadian provider, your rate will be in the 10 to 20-cent a minute range (depending on what top-ups you've used; cheaper top-up cards have a higher rate). You can get preactivated SIM cards for T-Mobile off eBay for about $10-20, and will need to buy an unlocked GSM phone that supports the 850 and 1900 MHz bands (pretty easy to find and not expensive). Petro-Canada's phones at one time were not locked, but I'm not sure if that's the case anymore. It might be safer to get one off eBay. (If you think you will travel overseas, get a quad-band like a Motorola RAZR V3 and it will work just about anywhere that has cellular coverage.)

scrooloose 2008-09-20 11:15 AM

I have a phone I leave it my car at all times also. I carry a Blackberry for work, but I don't always have it on me. If you don't turn the phone on (i.e. outgoing calls only), then the battery will stay charged for a long time. I only need to charge it a few times a year. Of course, if you leave it on for incoming calls, that will likely require weekly charging.


dennism3 2009-01-14 10:19 PM

Just to add to this discussion. I did buy a 7-eleven phone $100 for one year and a $75 credit toward a Nokia 2760. So for $116 got a year. I just bought a SIM card(T-Mobile) for $10US on Ebay, mailed to me. Just activated the T-Mobile in Canada. Now I have my 7-eleven for Canada for a year and a T-Mobile for my trips to Washington state.

A little bonus was that there was supposed to be $3.34 of time (10 minutes) with the SIM card but to my surprise Nov15-Jan15 T-Mobile offered a $10 bonus each of 3 months for activation of a phone. Someone needed a phone and not the SIM card so they sold the card and the bonus on Ebay without realizing that the bonus applied I guess. So for my $12 CDN I have 39 minutes of time when I go to the states and next month they will add another $10 and the next month $10 again. $12 got me 33.34 of time and the SIM card.:):p:D:o
$10 gives me another 90 days after April and once the $100 is spent I will be getting a year for the $10.
I might consider just keeping t-mobile at ..59 or .69 a minute in Canada with $10/year cost. I barely ever use it so it might make sense.

Glad you guys discussed this!!!

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