When looking for the best deal possible, it is important to know all about the different Canadian cell phone providers. By educating yourself on the different carriers, their features, and the technology they use, you can make the best decision based on your particular needs.
Who Are the Canadian Cell Phone Providers?
For many years, there were only three Canadian cell phone providers. In 2009 and 2010, this expanded to include two other nationwide carriers. The new entrants do not have the same coverage footprint as their older cousins, but they do introduce a new level of competition in Canada's cell phone climate.
Once known for its partnership with American carrier AT&T, Rogers Wireless is one of the biggest cell phone providers in Canada. For years, it was also the only nationwide carrier to use GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) technology for its service and it also had the exclusive Canadian availability of the Apple iPhone.
Rogers remains one of the most popular carriers in Canada due in part to its support of GSM technology, unofficially allowing its subscribers to use imported and unlocked cell phones like those sold in Europe and Asia.
Many years ago, Telus Mobility acquired Clearnet and also adopted the latter's marketing strategy with plain white backgrounds and whimsical animal mascots. While it still supports CDMA (code division multiple access) and EVDO (Evolution-Data Optimized) technology, Telus has expanded its service to include HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) service as well. To coincide with the expansion, Telus started selling the Apple iPhone.
One of the bigger appeals to Telus is its set of Clear Choice cell phone plans. These are meant to be easier for consumers to understand as they minimize the "hidden fees" that were once notorious among Canadian phone plans.
Once known for its Frank and Gordon marketing campaign, Bell Mobility is one of the largest cell phone providers in Canada. Among its popular lineup of handsets are the Palm Pre and BlackBerry Curve.
While there is certainly a lot of appeal for regular consumers, a large part of Bell's customer base is in the corporate and business markets.
Newly introduced in 2009 in the Toronto and Calgary areas is Wind Mobile, the brand that Globalive uses for its cell phone network in Canada. It faced problems with the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) due to foreign ownership and control issues, but that was overcome, allowing Wind to launch its service.
Unlike Rogers, Telus, and Bell, Wind Mobile uses the 1700MHz AWS (Advanced Wireless Services) spectrum for its 3G wireless service. This is the same technology used by T-Mobile USA and it is the result of the spectrum auction prior to Wind's launch in Canada.
Set to launch in 2010 is Mobilicity. The brand name was unveiled in early February 2010 as the official name for the wireless service to be offered by Data & Audio Visual Enterprises Wireless Inc. (DAVE Wireless).
Like Wind Mobile, Mobilicity participated and won a portion of the spectrum auction, allowing it to build a wireless network with 1700MHz AWS technology.
Other Cell Phone Brands in Canada
In addition to the five main Canadian cell phone providers described above, there are several sub-brands and Mobile Virtual Network Operators that use the Rogers, Bell, and Telus networks. Some of these are directly affiliated with the other carriers, including some that are wholly owned subsidiaries, while others are independent brands.
For instance, Fido Mobile is completely owned and operated by Rogers Wireless, though it functions largely as its own brand. Telus Mobility runs Koodo Mobile and Bell Mobility has Solo Mobile. By and large, these sub-brands are meant to be more budget-friendly and are not aimed at the corporate market.
Some independent prepaid cell phone providers include those sold by 7-11 Stores, the Real Canadian Superstore (PC Mobile), and more.