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Discussion Starter #1
I have a relative coming to Toronto from overseas, and she will need a cellphone. I am trying to research the most appropriate and cost-effective option for her, and I would appreciate feedback or any other suggestions. The following are the key points:

1 She may not be staying in Toronto long-term, so I don't think a contract plan is appropriate, and this makes a smart phone too costly (unless the number can be changed within the plan at no or little cost)

2 Most of her use will be international long distance and texting, possibly messaging, and mostly evenings and weekends.Local calling will be limited.

3 She may want to do web browsing and email.

My suggested option is to get a plan with unlimited evenings and weekends, and use a calling card to make long distance calls via a local or toll-free number. From what I have read, Fido has a monthly plan offering this, plus unlimited domestic and international texting for $30. What it doesn't state is if this requires a contract. I assume all plans are on commitment? The prepaid monthly option has 1000 minutes evenings and weekends and needs an add-on for limited international texts, for around $40/month total.

Is there a better option?

Thanks
 

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With Fido and Rogers you can typically get the regular plans month-to-month but promotional plans require a three year contract.

Where are her long distance calls being made? You may wish to consider Wind Mobile or Mobilicity as they both offer good long distance rates to several countries and don't require contracts. The trade-off is generally worse reception as their networks are much newer.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Most of the long distance will be to her family in China, and I am estimating she would call almost every night. Most of the LD plans I checked out were $0.10-0.20 per minute in addition to regular airtime charges. My experience has been the calling cards are much cheaper when calling frequently, which is why I was thinking of that route. The monthly plan w/o contract may be preferable because there are decent phones for under $100 no contract and I may have an older Blackberry that could be unlocked.

Another question I have is, what does the $10/mo unlimited internet browsing give compared to the more expensive data plans for internet use? If she has a basic phone that allows for email and internet, would the unlimited browsing add-on allow for basic web access like news sites?
 

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Unlimited browsing works on featurephones but not on smartphones. It's typically good for mobile web but not for full websites.

Mobilicity and Wind each offer unlimited calling to China as a $20/month add-on. Wind also offers calling to China for $0.05/minute with a $5/month add-on. Both also offer unlimited international texts as a $5/month add-on.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the info. I will look at those also. My initial concern with the newer start-ups is they are limited to the Toronto area, so if she moves outside that range (e.g. Guelph) she would have to change providers until they expand. At least there are more choices now than the 3-headed monster (aka Bell/Rogers/Telus).
 
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