by Yale Holder

For years I’ve been hearing how much more competitive the US market is than in Canada. So imagine my surprise to find that maybe that is not the case anymore. You will be surprised at what I learned from my visit to the big apple a few days ago….

I was in the US for a few days and I decided to get my sister a cell phone as she would be staying a few months and needed a cell phone. So my first thought was to get a simple $25 unlimited plan voice only no data and given that I’m in New York city, one of the most competitive cities in the world that shouldn’t be a problem.

I’m not a newbie to the cell phone industry, so I looked for the equivalent, Wind Mobile or Mobilicity unlimited type carrier in New York and found one with Metro PCs. Having found it I walked in and asked for my $25 unlimited plan with a basic phone….”sorry sir but we don’t have those plans any more but you can have the unlimited $45 plan with unlimited data”.

Not what I wanted, so I check with Verizon after all they are the number 1 carrier in the US, their unlimited voice only plan starts at $50, so I tried T-Mobile no lock there either. At this point I’m exhausted, so I check AT&T and settled on one of their unfulfilling $25 for 250 min plans reminiscent of the big 3 here in Canada.

Canada: We are not as simple as 10 per cent of the U.S. Market

We need myCELLmyTERMS in the U.S. to simplify this process!

In fact, to get a decent plan in the US you have to spend about $45 – $50 a month (see table 1 below), no unlimited $25 or $35 plans as we see here in Canada right now (see table 2). I distinctly remember MetroPCs, Leap and Cricket all fighting at the $25 – $35 price point but not any longer, somehow they have moved their competition to the $40 – $50 thanks to the advent of the smartphone.

With consolidation occurring in the US, T-Mobile being bought by AT&T, and with a possible 3 companies owning 80% of the marketplace (ATT/T-moible, Verizon and Sprint), theUS is looking more like Canada today than they did a few years ago. While competition has heated up here in Canada, it has certainly reversed in the US– seems like the price wars are over. Is this a sign to come for us here in Canada, temporary reduction in prices only to be reversed in a few years?

What do you think?

Table 1 showing unlimited plans in the US.

US Carrier Unlimited Voice Plan Unlimited voice/data Plan Notes
T-Mobile $59.99 $89.99 Unlimited data cap at 5GB
Metro PCs $40 No unlimited Voice only plan
Verizon $50 Unlimited prepaid plan
AT&T $50 Prepaid
Sprint $99.99 Simply everything plan
Cricket $35 $45 From Leap Wireless
Boost Mobile $50 Unlimited data cap at 5GB

Table 2 showing unlimited plans in Canada.

Canadian Carrier Unlimited Voice Plan Unlimited voice/data Plan Notes
Wind Mobile $25 $29 Special Promotion
Mobilicity $25 $40 Promotion, $25 unlimited
Public Mobile $24 $45 Has $15 unlimited voice only plan
Koodo $35 Prepaid
Fido $35 City Fido unlimited

Yale Holder is co-founder of myCELLmyTERMS, a Toronto-based company that helps cell phone users negotiate wireless plans with independent dealers.

 

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  • Yves

    Interesting (?) that the list of some canadian providers omit the large players like Rogers, Bell and Telus, but the comparison with some US providers include the “big guys”

  • John P

    Try Virgin Mobile in the US, pay as you go. I spend about $20 per month and only when I am in the US.

  • great blog!! thank you for sharing.

  • JPM

    To follow up on Yves comments, the Canadian big three don’t offer unlimited usage as far as I know.

  • Canada’s carriers are Rogers, Telus and Bell. Other carriers are not available throughout most of the country. The survey above therefore misrepresents the situation in Canada.