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Comparison of Monthly Plans
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Below is a comparison of various features and costs of the most inexpensive* available monthly (post-paid) plans from various cellular service providers across Canada. These tables are meant as a guide to help you choose your service provider and all information is subject to change. Not all providers shown below offer services in all locations in Canada. For comparison, rates shown here are for British Columbia (except for Aliant, which shows Nova Scotian rates). Superscript numbers indicate additional comments below the table. Higher priced packages are outlined in each providers' opinion pages.

*These rates are typical of what is currently being offered to the public market. This comparison does not account for corporate offers, plans that do not include any airtime in their monthly package rate, or plans that share airtime or are added onto an existing plan.

Have a question about these rates or features that you would like answered? Post your question or comments on our forums at GeckoBeachForums.com..

Initial Fees

Feature Telus Mobility Bell Mobility Rogers Fido SimPro Cityfone Virgin Mobile Telus Mike Aliant Mobility
Phone purchase credits 1 $50/100/150 credit with 1/2/3 year contract up to $100 credit varies on phone, contract term and monthly rate varies with phone purchase varies with phone purchase and contract term varies with phone purchase and contract term
varies with phone purchase and contract term varies with phone purchase and contract term
SIM card N/A N/A $25 (GSM phones only, included with new phone purchase) $25 (included with new phone purchase) $25 (included with new phone purchase) Included N/A N/A N/A
Activation fee $0-$35, depends on if you sign a contract and the plan you choose. This rate may also vary between dealers. $0 or $50 on certain plans $0 or $35 $0 $0 $0 $0
Signed contract Available Available Available Available Yes Available No Available Available
Return policy 2 Ask Ask Ask 15 days Ask Ask Ask Ask 30 days
Cheapest monthly fee $25* (see below) $30 $20 $20 $25 $18 varies $25 $20
Included monthly airtime 3 175 min (BC/AB/SK)
200 min (elsewhere)
100 min
Unlimited evenings/ weekends
150 min OR 50 min weekdays, 200 min weekends 200 min 1000 min 100 min varies 200 min
(as phone)
80 min
Unlimited evenings/ weekends
Local airtime billing on completed calls 3 Per minute, when call is ANSWERED Per minute, when call is PLACED Per minute, when call is PLACED Per second, when call is PLACED Per second, when call is ANSWERED Per minute, when call is ANSWERED Per minute, when call is PLACED Per minute, when call is PLACED Per minute, when call is PLACED
Extra talk time $0.25/min $0.25/min $0.25/min $0.20/min $0.20/min $0.25/min N/A $0.25/min $0.29/min
System access fee 4 $6.95/month Included+ $6.95/month $6.95/month $75/year $6.95/month Included $6.95/month $6.95/month
9-1-1 access fee $0.50/month+ $0.50/month+ $0.50/month+ $0.50/month+ Included $0.50/month+ $0.50/month+
800, 1900 MHz
1900 MHz
800, 1900 MHz;
GSM 850, 1900 MHz
1900 MHz
1900 MHz
1900 MHz
800, 1900 MHz
800 MHz
800, 1900 MHz
Minimum Monthly Fee ^ $32.45 $30.00 $27.45 $27.70 $32.45 $25.45 varies $32.45 $27.45

* Telus also offers a $20/month plan, but this plan does not include mini voice mail, call waiting, and conference calling (which is available on the $25/month plan). For the purposes of similar plan comparisons on this page the $25/month plan has been used.

^ Minimum monthly fee is based on lowest available monthly plan rate plus the system access fee and the 9-11 access charge. Note that plans between providers will offer different amounts of airtime and features, but this gives an idea of the cheapest price you would pay with a plan from a particular service provider. This fee does not include any applicable taxes. Monthly rates on your bill may vary due to annual charges or delayed rebates on initial phone purchases.

+ 911 fee may be subject to an additional charge ($0.25-$0.50/month) if your provider is offering E911 service in your area.

Virgin Mobile plans fall into a very different structure when compared to other providers. One plan offers $0.10/min with a daily charge of $0.40, another offers $0.25/min for the first 5 minutes per day and then $0.15/min after that. There is also an optional unlimited incoming calls and evenings and weekend options plan available. See Virgin Mobile's prices and features page for more details.

1. Purchase credits
These are credits (or gifts) given to you when you purchase a phone either through the service provider directly or from a dealer. Note that different retailers may offer different goodies to get you to buy a phone from them (e.g., an in-store credit, accessories for your phone, etc), so it's a good idea to shop around. Retailers will often match other competitors' offers or agree to waive certain charges (e.g., the activation fee). Providers may also offer their own limited time offer incentives, such as free incoming minutes, unlimited local calling, free web surfing, caller ID, etc. Be aware that these offers are included in the packages for a set period once you sign up on a plan, but you are responsible for cancelling them after the offer expires, otherwise they will be added to your monthly bill after the free trial period.

2. Return Policies
Always ask before purchasing a phone as return policies are set by both service providers and retailers. If you make a phone purchase then INSIST that the phone return policy is either attached to or written on the purchase receipt or contract. Get this IN WRITING to ensure that there is no confusion or problems if you decide to later return the handset. At a minimum you will still need to pay for any airtime or other features that you used with the phone before returning it.

3. Minutes Included?
Most providers now charge their customers on a per minute basis and therefore you might be using up more airtime than you originally thought. If your call tendency is a few long-duration calls then this will not impact you as much as someone who makes many short-duration calls since these calls are always being rounded up to the full minute.
Secondly, providers charge their airtime either when the call is PLACED or ANSWERED. A "placed" call, also referred to as "send to end time", means that you will pay the airtime for listening to the phone ring on the other end if your call is answered. For "answered" airtime, you do not pay for the time listening to the ringing and the billing begins when the call is answered. Regardless if the plan is "placed" or "answered", you do not get charged for listening to busy signals or if your call is not answered.

Note that the Bell Mobility monthly plan used here also includes 20 unlimited duration calls to one pre-set number per month (called 'Touch Base' Service).

4. System Access Fee or Annual Licencing Fee
This fee is an additional charge on your monthly bill for access to the provider's network. This fee is consistent between providers and it is a fixed rate, regardless of which monthly plan you are on. Some providers include this fee in their monthly rates.


Feature Telus Mobility Bell Mobility Rogers Fido SimPro Cityfone Virgin Mobile Telus Mike Aliant Mobility
Canadian analog (AMPS) provider 5 Mobility Mobility Rogers Mobility None Mobility
Analog access charges 5 Included Included Included $0.20/min (in addition to monthly airtime) $9.95/month +$0.25/min (in addition to monthly airtime) $0.20/min (in addition to monthly airtime) Included N/A Included
Digital / Analog handoffs 6 CDMA>AMPS only
AMPS will not handoff to CDMA during a call
GSM: digital calls are dropped
GSM: digital calls are dropped.
AMPS will not handoff to GSM during a call
AMPS will not handoff to CDMA during a call
AMPS will not handoff to CDMA during a call
American local calls 7 C$0.95/min US$0.60/min
US$1.20/min (analog)
US$1.25/min (analog)
US$0.20/min US$1.10/min (except Maine, US$0.85/min)
Long distance 7 C$0.50/min US$0.30/min
US$0.60/min (analog)
C$0.75/min C$0.20 or 0.30/min (incoming/outgoing)
C$0.50/min US$0.75/min
International roaming 8 CDMA/analog access areas only [See below] tdMA/analog access areas OR GSM access areas, depending on handset [See below] South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia [See below]
Mexico, South America, Israel, Asia [See below] Bermuda, China, Dominican Republic, Guam, Guatemala, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand and Venezuela [See below]

5. Analog coverage on digital plans
If you plan to use your phone for the most part in a major urban centre with digital coverage, you will not really care about what backup analog coverage your plan and phone may have. But if you make even a few trips to rural places where there is only analog coverage, then this is something to consider. Telus, Bell, and Rogers allow you to have free (i.e., included in your monthly airtime) access to their analog network. Analog access on Fido, SimPro, and Cityfone incurs additional monthly usage fees on top of your regular monthly plan.

6. Analog to Digital Handoffs
This is only applicable if the handset you are using supports analog (AMPS). Handoffs are used if you are using digital services and leave the outermost cell -- will your call be handed off to the next nearest analog cell site? Alternatively if you are using an analog cell and move into a digital area, will your call be transferred from the analog cell to the nearest digital cell? Handoffs may be important to you if you live or travel regularly through a fringe zone of a provider's digital service area and you don't want dropped calls or to incur additional analog roaming charges, even though you have moved into a digital area. Telus, Bell, and Aliant users will automatically have their calls transferred to analog mode if they leave a digital (CDMA) service area, but phones that are in analog use while the user enters a digital service area will not be handed off to the digital cells until the call is completed. Rogers tdMA users enjoy handoffs in both directions. Fido, SimPro, Cityfone, and Rogers GSM users will have their calls DROPPED if they leave the digital service zone. GSM phones do not support handoffs and the user will need to re-establish an analog connection and re-place the call. Note that any phone in an AMPS service area will have its battery drain much faster than while in a digital service area.

7. American Roaming
Note that American roaming charges and long distance may be billed PER MINUTE, not per second, even if your monthly plan bills on a per second rate. Some providers change in US$ and convert the fee to Canadian$ on your monthly statement. Telus, Bell, and Rogers offer higher-priced business plans that include American roaming as part of a monthly plan.

8. International Roaming Notes:
Always contact your service provider before roaming internationally. Often a provider will restrict your phone from international roaming to prevent possible fraudulent use. Call and tell them which countries you plan to visit while away and call them again after your trip to restrict international roaming.

Your service provider may not offer roaming in all locations, even though the technology is present and your phone will show the presence of a network. In this case you will not be able to use your phone unless you contact the foreign service provider and ask if there is a way to re-program your phone to be able to use their services. Also contact your own service provider and tell them that they should set up a roaming agreement with the overseas provider. This applies primarily to CDMA and AMPS phones.

  • Analog or AMPS phones: Telus, Bell, and Rogers have roaming agreements with AMPS providers in Mexico, the Caribbean, and some South American countries. Some AMPS providers in these countries may request a deposit through your service provider to use their services. There may also be a daily "network access" charge applied to your account, even though you may not make or receive any phone calls. See the roaming page for additional information about using your phone in the Caribbean, Latin America, and South America.

    See the Overseas Roaming for North Americans for a detailed discussion on taking your phone overseas.

  • CDMA services are available in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, South Korea, and a few other Asian countries. Note that overseas CDMA is using the 800 MHz frequency. Telus and Bell both offer limited CDMA roaming in a few South-East Asian countries, but contact them prior to leaving to get the latest details. Bell offers roaming in New Zealand. Telus and Bell do not have roaming agreements in place with either Telstra or Optus in Australia.
  • tdMA services are available in Hong Kong and selected countries in South America. Rogers offers roaming in Hong Kong and some South American countries, but contact them prior to leaving to get the latest details.
  • iDEN services are available in Mexico, Columbia, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Philippines, and Israel. Newer iDEN handsets (e.g., the i2000) are combination iDEN/GSM and can also roam in Singapore, Korea, and China plus most of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Telus only offers iDEN roaming in the US at this time.
  • GSM is the primary technology for digital wireless phones in most of the world, but the frequency used is either 900 MHz or 1800 MHz (or both). GSM service in North America primarily uses 1900 MHz, therefore making almost all GSM phones sold here incompatible. If you plan to roam internationally then consider purchasing a multi-band GSM phone (850/900/1800/1900 MHz).
  • Both Rogers and SimPro offer special roaming packages for those that plan to frequently use their phones in Hong Kong. Contact these service providers for additional information.
  • Long Distance

    Feature Telus Mobility Bell Mobility Rogers Fido SimPro Cityfone Virgin Mobile Telus Mike Aliant Mobility
    Within Canada $0.25/min $0.30/min $0.25/min $0.20/min $0.20/min $0.25/min $0.25/min $0.20/min $0.35/min
    To USA $0.25/min $0.40/min $0.25/min
    Billed as Per second Per second
    (1 min minimum)
    Per second
    (1 min minimum)
    Per second
    (30 sec minimum)
    analog per minute
    Per minute
    Per minute Per minute Per second Per minute
    International Generally expensive compared to landline rates, but check with your provider. You will also need to activate international calling on your account and this may require a credit check and a listing of the countries that you plan to call regularly. You can use a third party long distance carrier to receive cheaper rates.

    Additional Features

    Feature Telus Mobility Bell Mobility Rogers Fido SimPro Cityfone Virgin Mobile Telus Mike Aliant Mobility
    Call forwarding $2/month (up to 3000 min) Included Included 1000 min free, then $0.10/min 100 min free, then $4.95/100 mins $2/month Included 100 free, then $0.50/call Included
    Conference calling Included, up to 3 people Included, up to 3 people Included, up to 3/6 people (tdMA/GSM) Included, up to 6 people Included, up to 6 people $2/month, up to 6 people Included, up to 3 people Only with 'direct connect' feature Included, up to 3 people
    Call waiting Included Included Included Included Included $2/month Included Included Included
    Caller ID
    (Call display)
    $5/month $4/month $5/month $4/month for CID; $4/month for VM; $6/month for both $4.95/month $5/month Included $5/month $4.95/month
    Voice mail Included (basic)
    $5-8/month enhanced
    from $4/month $5/month basic
    $8/month enhanced
    $4.95/month $5/month Included $5/month basic
    $8/month enhanced
    Outgoing text (SMS) messaging (Incoming are free) 15¢ ea or $5/month for 100 10¢ ea or $5/month for 100 25 free outgoing then 15¢ ea or $5/month for 75 outgoing 15¢ ea or $5/month for 100 10¢ ea or $5.95/month unlimited 15¢ ea or $5/month for 75 10¢ ea 15¢ ea 10¢ ea
    Wireless data From 5.0¢/Kb From 5.0¢/Kb From 5.0¢/Kb From 3.0¢/Kb $9.95/month Available N/A From $5/month From 5.0¢/Kb
    Detailed billing Included $3/month, included on higher priced plans Simple included, detailed $3/month Included Included Included N/A Included Included
    Canadian roaming numbers 7 Yes Yes No No No No No No Yes
    Free commercial star lines
    (e.g., radio stations)
    Yes Yes Yes No No No No No Yes
    Calls between phones on the same provider Only originator paysX Charged as regular airtime Charged as regular airtime Charged as regular airtime Charged as regular airtime Charged as regular airtime Charged as regular airtime Charged as regular airtime Charged as regular airtime

    X Calls between Telus Mobility phones: Only the originating phone pays airtime charges, receiving phone does not pay airtime on the call, but only on grandfathered plans prior to January 2004. Telus does not openly advertise this feature and on monthly bills the calls are recorded as airtime, but in the statement summary these are listed as "free calls". If you wish to add this feature to a new plan, the per monthly price is $5.

    7. Roaming numbers
    Roaming numbers are local access numbers in major urban centres which allow callers to call you when you are outside your local calling area. For example, if my cell phone number is local to Victoria and I take a trip to Vancouver, my phone is considered to be outside its local calling area. If someone in Vancouver calls me, they still have to dial my phone number as long distance and they will be charged the long distance portion from Vancouver to Victoria and I will be charged the long distance portion from Victoria to Vancouver (referred to as "double long distance"). If a provider offers a roaming number in Vancouver, they someone could call that access number, get a dial tone, and then punch in my 10 digit cell phone number and contact me for the price of a local phone call and neither of us would pay long distance charges. Roaming numbers allow you and your callers to minimize long distance charges.


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