The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) recently reported that, as of the end of March 2011, almost 95% of all wireless customers in Canada subscribed to Bell Mobility, Telus Mobility or Rogers Wireless.

For consumers, this triopoly of wireless service in Canada has meant high prices (as confirmed by several international surveys) and a limited number of service options.

Thankfully, over the last two years, several newcomers on the wireless scene have appeared in a number of major Canadian cities offering Canadians lower wireless voice, text and data pricing.

One of those newcomers is Mobilicity which launched service in Toronto in May 2010. Mobilicity is a privately owned Canadian Company owned by Toronto entrepreneur John Bitove and several American Venture capital firms. The company won wireless licences in several major Canadian cities in a 2008 auction with a company named Data & Audio Visual Enterprises (DAVE) Wireless. The company changed its name to Mobilicity in February 2010. Its name is a portmanteau of the words "mobility" and "simplicity".

Since its May 2010 launch, the company has rolled out service in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa.


Mobilicity Plans and Pricing


In these major metropolitan markets, the wireless company offers three calling plans beginning at $25 per month. The $25 plan includes unlimited local calling, unlimited text and picture messaging, caller ID, and unlimited calling to other Mobilicity customers. The $35 plan adds on Voice Mail, Call Waiting, Call Forwarding, 3 Way Calling and province wide long distance. The $45 plan offers everything in the $35 plan plus Canadian and U.S. long distance and Global text messaging.

An Unlimited Internet access plan is also available for $40 per month, $20 a month if you also subscribe to a voice plan.

If you compare the Mobilicity plans with plans from the big three, you'll quickly realize you can save a lot of money on your wireless service. In addition, the company offers additional ways including Family Plans and a multi-month option which gives a 33% discount by pre-paying for twelve months. For example, you can pay $200 for a whole year of the $25 a month plan.


On the hardware side, Mobilicity offers a decent selection of thirteen feature and smartphones ranging from $80 to $500. Since they have no contracts, there is no subsidized hardware. Among the 13 devices are some of the latest and best Blackberries (Bold 9780 and Curve) and Android (Nexus S and HTC Panache) phones. On the downside, the company does not offer the Apple iPhone.

Like any consumer, I am always looking for the lowest price but as I learned earlier this year with Wind Mobile, the lowest price doesn’t necessarily translate into the best value. (read my experiences with Wind Mobile in Wireless Nightmare: A Wind Mobile Review )

Next Page: Great Price but are they worth it?



So Mobilicity has great prices but are they worth it?

After I wrote about my experiences with Wind Mobile, I was contacted by Mobilicity who provided me with an opportunity to spend a month with their service. The four weeks I spent with the Mobile service were uneventful. I used the device from near Burlington on the West, downtown Toronto on the East and Vaughan on the North. In my time with Mobilicity, I never had a problem with voice calls or texting.

Since that time, I have alluded to some of Digital Home's 500,000 monthly visitors about the positive experience but have not written a complete review. I felt I could not write a full review because I had not reviewed the entire Mobilicity experience including sales, service and coverage.


Signing up


When Mobilicity announced their “Break Your Wireless Contract Day” which would give new subscribers a $200 credit if they ported their number from the big three to Mobilicity, I decided it was time to buy a new phone for my teenage daughter who was off to high school next year. In the past, I have limited my daughter to $25 a month for wireless which doesn’t go far with the big three so we felt we could get more with Mobilicity.

Last Saturday, she and I traveled to a Q-Telecom in Mississauga, an official Mobilicity store, and ported over her Bell wireless phone number to Mobilicity. Our shopping experience was excellent as our sales representative answered all of our questions in a professional and courteous manner. In addition, he made several excellent recommendations which we accepted.

Under the Mobilicity promotion, we bought my daughter a Blackberry Bold, a year of unlimited calling, unlimited texting, Blackberry Messenger, and unlimited Internet for $600 after credits. The no contract price from Rogers Wireless for the phone itself is $575!
Next year, she will be given $25 a month ($300 a year) to spend on wireless so she will likely have to pay an additional $80 a year to keep the Blackberry Messenger and data. In year two, she will pay $380 for a cell phone package that far exceeds my Fido package which costs me $840 ($70 a month) a year!

Next Page: Set Up, Service and Use



Set Up, Service and Use

Most of the work was done at the store, so we were up and running when we left the store. The number was ported over to the new device in less than three hours.
We did have one problem though. We could not send or receive text messages. Muttering under my breath that I might be starting a new wireless nightmare, I contacted Mobilicity expecting to be told that I had to pay more or that there were some insurmountable problems that made texting impossible.

To my chagrin, within a minute or two I was on the phone with friendly, competent and well-spoken rep who assured me the problem was not uncommon with new ports but could be fixed. He instructed me to take the battery out of the phone. Once the battery was out, he sent a command to the network which would fix the problem and then he told me to wait ten minutes before putting the battery back in the phone. Ten minutes later, we re-installed the battery, powered up the phone and began successfully sending text messages. I did as instructed and everything worked well.

Over the last week, my daughter has used the device extensively for voice and text without any issues. In the few moments when it was out of her hands, I also tried the service without any problems. Combined with my four weeks of usage in April, I am confident the Mobilicity network will serve me well in Toronto.


My Wallet


If you are a parent thinking about getting a wireless device for your son and daughter, then you are probably concerned about the possibility of “bill shock.” Bill shock occurs when a phone owner uses their device in a way that ends up incurring a huge and unexpected wireless phone bill.

We have all heard the horror stories!

To prevent unexpected wireless bills, Mobilicity has something called My Wallet. Simply speaking, Mobilicity prevents you from making calls, sending texts or data when you’re are outside of your coverage zone unless you have put money into a virtual wallet. My Wallet is a nice feature as it insures my daughter won't "accidentally" run up some large bills.

Next Page: Things you should know and Summary




Notes about Local Calling, Long Distance and Roaming

If you are currently a customer of Bell, Rogers or Telus then you should know that the way Mobilicity operates is somewhat different then the big three. The following are some things you should know before signing up.

Zones- Mobilicity offers has five coverage zones in Canada: Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa. These coverage zones typically extend beyond the city limits. Users know they are inside a Mobilicity Zone because the word Mobilicity appears on the device's screen. If they are outside the Zone, “Canadian Roaming” appears on the screen in place of Mobilicity. See the Mobilicity for coverage maps in your city.

Local Calling – similar to the telcos, local calls are calls made within your local coverage zone. Free local calling means that all calls made from inside your zone to anyone inside your zone is covered by your plan. For example, if you are in Toronto, you can call anyone in Toronto at no extra charge.

Mobilicity Calling - Mobilicity offers free calling to other Mobilicity customers in any of the five zones, For example, a Mobilicity customer in Calgary can call a Mobilicity customer in Ottawa at no extra cost.

Long Distance– long distance calling occurs when you phone from inside a zone to someone outside your zone. If you are on the $25 a month plan, the LD rate is 15 cents per minute to locations in Canada and Continental U.S. The $35 plan includes unlimited province wide long distance while the $45 plan includes unlimited Canadian long distance. A $10 unlimited U.S. long distance add-on is also available

Roaming– roaming occurs when you are outside of your zone and you: make or receive calls; send or receive texts; send or receive data. Roaming to any part of Canada or Continental U.S.A are 20 cents a minute for voice calls ( which is perhaps the lowest per minute roaming fee charged in Canada), 15 cents per text message and $5 per megabyte of data.

Multi-Month billing– Mobilicity lets users pay upfront for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months of service and receive a discount ranging from 15% to 33%. For example, the $25 a month plan is $200 if you pay upfront, a savings of 33%.

Summary

From sales to support to usage, my experience with Mobilicity in Toronto has been excellent and I am confident in recommending the service. The potential downside to Mobilicity, which may affect Digital Home readers is the companies limited number of retail locations, lack of iPhone support and service only being available in five cities.

Mobilicity Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Excellent Pricing
  • My wallet Feature eliminates Bill Shock
  • Multi-Month discounts
  • No Contacts
  • Android, Blackberry devices available
Negatives
  • Limited Mobilicity Retail locations make it difficult to buy
  • No iPhone
  • Limited phone selection
  • Only available in five cities

Discuss Mobilicity service and offerings in Digital Home's Alternate Wireless Phone providers forum.