Mobilicity vs. WIND Mobile, 2011 edition.

Here’s a fun fact: “Mobilicity vs. WIND” is the third most popular search phrase that brings readers to this humble blog. My original comparison of Canada’s two upstart carriers is now just about a year old and a lot has changed since then, including this late-breaking rumour from a fairly credible source.

Of course, you may or may not be swayed by such things; even if Mobilicity were to succumb to WIND its customers’ plans would likely be grandfathered — that is, kept as is.

Nothing will happen until 2012 anyway, so… on to the rematch!

Round 1: Cost

For both carriers’ current holiday promotions kindly read my previous post on the subject.

WINNER: First round goes to Mobilicity. Almost all of their deals are “for life” and aggressive pricing keeps WIND Mobile plans in check. Sure would be a shame to see them go.

Round 2: Hardware

As a user of desktop Linux I have a strong bias towards the Android Mobile OS. This Christmas season both carriers’ Android portfolios are pretty evenly matched. My number one recommendation on either network remains the unlocked and very hackable Nexus S. There’s also the HTC Amaze at the high end; at the low end Mobilcity’s cheap and cheerful Motorola Spice must now compete against the Huawei U8350 from WIND.

WINNER: On handsets alone it’s a draw, but WIND differentiates itself with a mobile hotspot, tipping the scales ever so slightly in their favour.

Round 3: Service

Before anything else you must understand the technical limitations of AWS — that is, relatively poor signal penetration through concrete walls, in basements, etc.

That said, I was amazed to find myself in the second-level basement of Toronto’s Eaton Centre with full bars plus data on WIND. Through the use of signal repeaters WIND also manages to get a usable signal through much of our city’s underground PATH system, where Mobilicity has no service at all.

Since kicking Fido to the curb last December and going with Mobilicity full time the sad truth for me is that I’ve been waiting patiently for a usable signal in much of my home. Where you are might be an entirely different story, of course. Thanks to this Android app and some thoughtful users you can compare coverage maps for Mobilicity and WIND — once you give your web browser permission to identify your location you’ll be able to get an idea what each carrier’s coverage is like from where you’re reading this.

For data I did a random sampling of tests around downtown Toronto with Mobilicity yesterday (left) and WIND the day before (right). The numbers for both are wildly inconsistent, but I was most surprised at how much Mobilicity has slipped since last year. Now granted, their service might still be recovering from the national outage of a few weeks back and sure, their service is still fully usable — where you can actually get a signal, that is. Still, this one’s no contest.

WINNER: WIND Mobile, hands down.

Wrap-Up

Before setting out to write this post I actually thought the result was going to be a lot closer than how it actually turned out. This year WIND’s better service to more cities (plus that nasty rumour about Mobilicity) makes choosing one over the other a no-brainer; if you live in a city where WIND offers service you should sign up, ASAP.

This may well be the last time Canadians can experience a holiday miracle on their mobiles. Ever.