Canada’s upstart carriers race to the bottom.

Don’t get me wrong here — Canadian mobile users haven’t had it this good in ten years. Seriously.

I first caught wind of this (bad pun, you’ll see) the other night on the Howard Forums. And though not (yet) widely publicized it has proven to be true: WIND Mobile is matching Mobilicity with a $40/month “unlimited everything, forever” plan of their own.

While I’m absolutely thrilled that there’s now another low cost, no-contract option for data hogs in this country (at least in urban centres) I can’t help but wonder if these plans are sustainable, and together aren’t a sign of pending trouble ahead.

Mobilicity‘s even more insane $35 CAD/month Friends & Family plan that I snatched up at the end of October is only good as long as I keep my current SIM card. Their reasoning goes that should I lose it the plan is no longer in their system, and can’t be reinstated. For this same reason I can no longer port my existing number out to them. As someone who’s had a grandfathered plan on Fido for the last six years or so, this smells like a marketing ploy to me — i.e. a get-out-of-jail-free card for Mobilicity.

WIND‘s $40 plan is much more tenable in that it’s tied to the user’s account rather than their SIM card. But to port my Fido number over I can’t use my existing SIM — I have to purchase a new one for a whopping $25, up from $10 just months ago.

Petty gripes aside, my real concern is that this spirited battle for new subscribers might actually be a cry for help in disguise. In its first six months WIND was still way behind the incumbent carriers in subscriber numbers (see Slide 13 here). And with their even later entry to market Mobilicity can’t have done much better.

Note that I’m deliberately not including Public Mobile here as their handsets use ESNs instead of SIMs, and therefore cannot be unlocked.

It’s fantastic to see reasonably priced unlimited data plans in this country, and I’ve no reservation recommending either Mobilicity or WIND to anyone who’ll listen. I just hope both carriers make the numbers they need to satisfy their investors and keep the good deals coming in 2011.

10 comments:

  1. I think what we had all hoped for was to have the Big 3 (Bell, Telus, and Rogers) be shaken up a little and take this competition a little more seriously. Being a Fido user, I switched to Mobilicity 2 weeks ago, and so far, I have no real gripes about the signal and reception. The only downfall I’m finding with Mobilicity is their lack of variety of handsets. Personally I’d love an Android, like an HTC or aa Samsung. Prior to porting my number out of Fido, I was still hesitant in making the switch to Mobilicity, simply because of the uncertainty of their current sustainability in this market. What ultimately made me switch was the extreme lack of enthusiasm from Fido to retain me as a customer. In a sad attempt to keep me, they offered to give me the same price as what Mobilicity was offering, but with much less as the package. Fido was going to cut down my data, my calling time, my text, my everything, in order to be able to offer me the pricing that I was going to get with Mobilicity, where they are offering unlimited for everything.

    Why everyone else isn’t jumping on the Mobilicity & WIND bandwagon, could very well be the lack of “exciting” handsets such as the iPhone, which in my opinion, is a phone not worth getting (snooty piece of shit, if I may say so). But with the mass majority of consumers being so well brainwashed, that all they know is either the BlackBerry (another snooty piece of shit) or the iPhone.

    So the point is, the Big 3 have most of us wrapped around their fingers, even if they offer us less for more money, we’d still go with them, simply because of the over-hype of a couple of brand name handsets. There are lots of amazing handsets out there, and anyone in the know would definitely agree with me.

    Give Mobilicity and WIND your support, and bring down the Big 3 off their freaking high horses!!!

  2. Well I would support one of the new carriers but the problem is their coverage sucks. I am constantly out of winds coverage area and would have to pay for data or any minutes when out of their home areas. So till build out their network I’ll stay with the Big 3.

  3. Coverage for both networks has been great for me.

    Of course, I live in downtown Toronto, which is well-serviced by both networks — hence the “urban centres” disclaimer in my post.

  4. Lack of handsets?

    No problem, just go online and get a modern T-Mobile one.

    Getting these unlocked is easy.

    TMob use the same bands as Wind and mobilicity.
    For example I use a TMob HTC/Google Nexus One on WIND.

  5. You wrote:
    “I can’t help but wonder if these plans are sustainable, and together aren’t a sign of pending trouble ahead.”

    Let’s put it into perspective:
    These rates are typical in Europe and have been for years.
    In most of Asia these rates would be considered quite high.

  6. Exactly right, but my point is that Mobilicity and WIND might not be making much headway into the market.

    It doesn’t help that electronics chains like Future Shop and Tbooth wireless don’t carry their products. You’d almost think that somebody had interests to protect…

  7. Long time listener, first time caller here. I just switched to Mobilicity. I have disposal income, so for me the rate limiting step is customer service, not price. Rogers (and hence Fido) handed their service credo over to automation a long time ago. Mind you, whenever I’ve had to call Fido, their people were pretty forthcoming. But I’ve been really impressed by how well the in-person Mobilicity sellers have embraced their roles as mediators for the public. So far, so very pleased. However, like Andrew, I am very concerned for the sustainability of their business model.

  8. I would definitely look for a T-Mobile phone, however, keep in mind that the mass majority of people don’t understand that different carriers uses different frequencies, and I think most just don’t care to understand it. For you to tell the mass majority to be swift and go online and buy an unlocked phone, they just don’t get it…

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