• Carriers

    by Published on 10-09-2013 06:46 PM
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    2. HowardForums,
    3. News,
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    Rogers is currently down for me. A number of members on the forums have also posted this. I'm attached to the network and can use data but I'm not able to make any calls.

    Anyone else on Rogers notice this? ...
    by Published on 09-25-2013 08:55 AM
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    I followed the saga of forums member TelecomZombie as best I could over this past summer, and I'm happy to report that his story has a happy ending -- just like the poor Canada Goose he uses as his avatar here.

    Some quick background for non-Canadian readers... If you didn't already know, rate plans for mobile service in this country generally suck. But in some parts of the country they suck considerably less than in others. Case in point, the lucky residents of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Thanks to tbaytel, a small but feisty service provider there, locals get rates that we in other parts of the country can only dream of.

    How do our Big Three carriers respond to this threat? Well, Bell Mobility actually comes pretty close to matching tbaytel's rates, but only in Thunder Bay. Ditto for Virgin Mobile.

    So if there was a way for us, the poor unfortunate souls who don't reside on the western shores of Lake Superior to get 6 GB of data for $60/month instead of, say... double that, would we be interested? I sure would.

    There exists among these forums of way to "game" either Bell or Virgin into giving you service at Thunder Bay rates, even if you don't live there. I won't spell it out for you -- "online account" and "offshore call centre" will be my only hints.

    TelecomZombie has a strong connection to Thunder Bay via a blood relative who lives there. He took advantage of Virgin's predatory pricing in the region and suffered because of it. With his help, I've reconstructed this timeline of his plight.

    ...
    by Published on 09-12-2013 08:50 AM
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    This country's Big Three carriers -- Bell, Rogers and Telus -- are clearly not happy with our government's recently-mandated Wireless Code. What really sucks is that they've taken some big steps to make sure that we share in their misery.

    Standard contracts for service are now two years instead of three, which is great. Here's what's not so great:

    1. Monthly fees are more expensive. Yes, the balance on subsidized devices must now be reclaimed over two years instead of three. But rates are still higher even if you don't take a subsidy.
    2. The upfront price of subsidized hardware has also increased, for no apparent reason.
    3. Data overages are now more expensive. The new going rate is $15/GB instead $10 -- except for Telus, which seems to think that $50/GB is totally fair.

    Canadians are clearly worse off now than we were last spring. So what can we do about it? My own solution has been to relegate as much data as I can to a humble hotspot. But if you don't want to carry two devices around, here's another idea:

    Switch to a tablet.

    Why? Because data, that's why. Would you rather pay $120/month for a phone plan with 6GB of data, or $40 for a tablet plan with 8GB? Check the Big Three's rates, they're all the same. Data plans on tablets are a steal right now.

    The catch is that, obviously, you have to use a tablet.

    ...
    by Published on 09-04-2013 04:16 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Rumors,
    3. Carriers

    Rumor has it that Mobilicity is currently in talks to transfer their 200,000 subscribers to Wind. This will allow Mobilicity to wind down their operations and cut their monthly losses. The idea is that they can hang onto their spectrum and wait till the 5 year ban on them selling their spectrum to a big three carrier to expire.

    Wind will not be paying Mobilicity much if anything for their customers. Wind gains because they'll get more customers which will help lower the amount they spend on each customer to keep their network running.

    This deal is subject to approval from Mobilicity's debt holders. ...
    by Published on 08-28-2013 09:31 AM
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    Last month the CBC ran a story about Ting, a Toronto-based company that offers wireless service to US customers -- specifically, it resells mobile bandwidth bought in bulk from Sprint.

    If this sounds at all familiar, it's pretty much the same way that the independent ISP TekSavvy operates; here in Ontario they buy bandwidth in bulk from Bell and Rogers, then offer it to customers via their own cable and DSL plans -- plans that are decidedly cheaper than what you'd pay Bell and Rogers, by the way. My TekSavvy DSL gives me a solid 25 Mbps down and 10 Mbps up for less than what I'd be paying Bell directly – and as an added bonus I get an exponentially higher bandwidth cap.

    Similarly, while Sprint unlimited smartphone plans can go as high as $70 USD/month, Ting breaks up voice, messaging and data into separate buckets. You only pay for the minutes and data used, plus messages sent -- incoming messages are free, I hope!

    Ting seems to be a popular choice where it's available. I myself have heard users sing its praises on at least one American podcast. And Sprint doesn't seem to have any problem selling them wholesale mobile service.

    Canada's Big Three carriers, though, are an entirely different story.

    ...
    by Published on 08-08-2013 05:53 PM
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    I have a Bell PDF explaining how their rate plans are changing as of August 9th. It's called 'How Consumer Rate Plans just got Better" - I'm not sure if this is to be said with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

    Anyways, it stuff we're already talking about here including:

    • How new 2yr and 30 day activations and hardware upgrades should work.
    • The new rate plans which include unlimited nationwide calling, text and MMS
    • New share-only plans
    • Promo plans for Voice and Voice and Data Lite (regular plans are Voice and Data Plus)
    • How migrations from 3yr plans to 2yr plans work
    • Why Bell's new plans are better than Rogers' and TELUS' new plans


    For those who don't know. 3 year contracts are out now - the max contract length is 2 years. Bell is using this opportunity to sort of reset their 3 yr plans. Basically, if you have a awesome rate plan that's lower than the new plans you can keep it but if you want hardware you'll have to switch to a rate plan that's compatible with 2 year contracts (Bell calls it an 'in market plan').

    The new plans have unlimited calling, text and MMS - basically because TELUS came out with it first and Bell is moving to match.

    While 2 year contracts are the max there are tiers of 2 year contracts based on how much you're over-paying I mean how you spend each month.

    1. There's voice only
    2. Voice and Data Lite
    3. Voice and Data Plus


    Plus means you're the type of big spender that Bell likes and you'll get the best subsidies on phones. Lite means you spend a little less and as such will receive a smaller subsidy. You get the idea.

    If you're having trouble seeing an image right click on it and view it/view in new tab to see it at full resolution. ...
    by Published on 07-30-2013 07:20 PM
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    2. Commentary and Analysis,
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    The words written in the new Wireless code are "good" to a point - they are what consumers want to hear (and most didn't know they wanted to hear it!) BUT does it go far enough to protect us? Not like we the consumers want. Already, Rogers, Bell and Telus have threatened (and are going to) raise their plan prices... simply because we no longer are leashed to them for 2 years. What this means for us, is higher device costs, and higher monthly rates, for less service, and less likeable customer care reps.

    The price plans as shown on MobileSyrup.com (here) are $10 higher or more, and have less data (what is this? 2009?!) and less minutes... but I guess that's what we have to get used to right?

    Then we have Verizon who makes a bold statement that they are now eyeing Canada. Bell is scared, as seen in their Open Letter to Canadians, and Rogers and Telus have both said similar things. Anyone remember Telus' CEO saying "Canadians' don't mind paying more per month"? Probably one of the most stupid things I've ever heard.
    ...
    by Published on 07-15-2013 11:41 AM
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    2. Commentary and Analysis,
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    TELUS just announced their new 2yr TELUS SharePlus plans. The plans consist of a separate voice and a data charges. You pick the class of device(s) you want to bring and then how much data you want shared between them. The new plans are meant to encourage users to use more than one device from TELUS (like a phone and a tablet).

    Here's the pricing:



    Let's whip out or calculators. With a 3 year term, let's assume you buy a Galaxy S4 for $200 and that it costs the TELUS $700. That means their subsidy is $500. TELUS would have $500/36months = $13.89 a month over your 3 year contract to make their subsidy back. Now with 24 months they need $20.83 a month to make their subsidy back which is $6.94 more. So, are plans going up by $6.94 a month?

    Let's assume you want a HTC One with unlimited nationwide talk and text with 2GB of data. Right now TELUS has a promotional plan called 'Unlimited Talk & Text -2GB Share'. It's $70 a month on a 3 year.

    With the new SharePlus plan, that would cost you $55 (voice) + $45 (data) = $100. Ouch. That's an extra $30 a month which is much higher than the $6.94 a month subsidy they were giving before.

    The advantage of the new plans are that you can add a couple of phones and share the data but to be honest, the data is so expensive I don't advise anyone to get them. Heck, if you want more data it gets very expensive very quickly. 6GB for $100!

    I'm sure many users will be thumping their 6GB/$30 plan and rightfully so.

    Now let's try to see this from TELUS' standpoint. Assuming most users don't cancel or change plans (which most don't). They were guaranteed 36 months x $70 = $2520 - $500 subsidy = $2020 over the life of the contract or $56.11 a month.

    Now, they're guaranteed 24 months x $100 - $500 subsidy = $1900 over 24 months or $79.17 a month. An increase of 41%! This is probably as bad as it's going to get.

    To me their 2 year plans are initial offerings. They're meant to do two things: 1) get customers to run out and sign 3 year contracts before they're no longer available 2) Take advantage of users who have been itching for 2 year contracts (and failed math).

    TELUS is putting their initial offerings in and waiting to see what Rogers and Bell do.

    The new plans launch on July 30th. ...
    by Published on 07-11-2013 12:06 AM
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    2. News,
    3. Carriers

    Today, T-Mobile announced their new Jump program. For an extra $10 a month you're basically paying for device insurance. After 6 months of doing this you can trade in your T-Mobile phone for a new one and not have to worry about any more device payments. Your new phone won't cost you any more than what a new customer would pay.

    Doesn't make much sense does it? My guess is that T-Mobile is banking that you won't upgrade EVERY six months since most phones are on a 11 to 12 month release cycle.

    T-Mobile also announced the Sony Xperia Z which is sort of like a bigger, water and dust-proof version of the Xperia ZL I reviewed recently minus the infrared blaster and the Nokia Lumia 925.

    They also announced a new family plan. 4 lines with unlimited talk, text and web plus up to 500MB of data for only $100. ...
    by Published on 06-13-2013 03:11 PM
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    Just got some info on when and how Bell is going to behave itself now that we have the Wireless Code of Conduct.

    First off, they're going to start on Dec 2nd 2013.

    To me the most interesting points are that Bell can't charge you a monthly fee, if you device is under warranty repair. While Bell has to unlock your phone after 90 days, you have to pay Bell's fee (which presumably won't be cheap). When you cancel, it now happens immediately, you don't have to give 30 days notice.

    When your data usage goes over $50/100 (domestic/roaming) Bell will ask you for permission before they continue to charge you.

    Here are the point:

    • Roaming data - data is cut off once you hit $100 of overage unless you agree to pay additional charges
    • Domestic data - data is cut off at $50 overage unless you agree to pay additional charges
    • Unlocking - you can get your device unlocked after 90 days at Bell's rate
    • Repairs - no monthly charges while your device is under warranty repair
    • Early termination fees - Cancellation fee cannot exceed value of device subsidy. Each month, the device cost/(number of months of contract up to 24 months) is taken off the remainder of your subsidy balance.
    • Cancellation - When you want to cancel it happens IMMEDIATELY. No more 30 days notice BS. Now we need a cable and telephone service code of conduct
    • End of contract - The contract continues on the same terms after expiry. They have to notify you 30 days before the end of term.
    • It looks like larger business accounts are excluded from the rules.
    ...
    by Published on 06-04-2013 09:37 AM
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    2. News,
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    The looks like the Canadian government isn't going to allow the TELUS purchase of Mobilicity to go through. Also; the license transfer denied, and the 700Mhz spectrum auction is now delayed until January.

    What does this mean for Mobilicity and the other incumbents?
    ...
    by Published on 05-14-2013 04:58 PM
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    Our very own HC - NO "i" just handed my his review for the ZTE F160. No, it doesn't have a 5" 4K display, 16 core processor or 8GB of RAM with dodeca-band LTE support. Instead, it's a feature phone (AKA dumbphone). Here it is:



    It's inevitable. Now that smartphones have out shipped feature phones for the first time. Mundane usage like voice calls and even SMS are declining for many subscribers as these activities are being replaced by social networking (e.g. Facebook, Google+), on-the-top messaging (e.g. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger) and VoIP calls (e.g. Skype, Google Talk).



    Here at HoFo, we mostly focus on smartphones these days. Smartphones like my brand spanking new Samsung Galaxy S 4 which is the very definition of ‘all the bell and whistles’.



    So when I told my fellow HC that I wanted to check out the F160 candy bar handset from ZTE, he wondered if I was really serious. ...
    by Published on 04-29-2013 10:31 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. From The Forums,
    4. Carriers

    Man, Sprint can't get a break!

    HTC’s conscious decision to focus on premium design for its HTC One flagship may come with an unintended consequenc: reception problem if the phone is held a certain way. Though we haven’t been able to confirm if the problem affects all global and U.S. releases of the HTC One, we have found–and are able to repeat–the problem on at least two Sprint Nextel HTC One units, one in theSan Francisco Bay Area and another in the New York Metropolitan Area.
    http://www.gottabemobile.com/2013/04...ttaBeMobile%29
    by Published on 04-13-2013 10:26 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. News,
    4. Carriers

    Just got word that the Samsung Galaxy S4 is coming to Bell on May 3rd for $699.95 straight up or $199.95 on an eligible 3yr contract. It will be available in either Black or White (I think). Pre-orders launch on Monday. If you pre-order you can get it as soon as April 27th.

    Check out the banding. Apparently it supports LTE on 700/AWS/850/1900/2100/2600Mhz. I'll have to double check that but if that's the case that's amazing. DC-HSPA+ (42Mbps) on 850/1900/2100 too.

    Now the big question: Coke or Pepsi? I mean do you get the HTC One next week on the 19th or do you wait another 2 for the Galaxy S4? One things for sure, HTC's One delay is going to cost them. ...
    by Published on 04-04-2013 02:04 PM
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    2. Devices,
    3. News,
    4. Carriers

    HTC, AT&T and Facebook have just announced the HTC First. It's basically an Android 4.1 phone with what sounds like an overlay made by Facebook. From the specs it sounds like a mid-range phone with a 4.3" display, Snapdragon 400 processor and LTE. It will be an AT&T exclusive.

    The overlay is called Facebook Home so it sounds like a Facebook-centric homescreen that has cover feeds (friend's news feeds), notifications, chat heads which sounds like the ability to Facebook messenger without leaving your current app, App Launcher and built-in Instagram.

    From its specs it sounds like it's not aimed at phone nerds but rather people who less concerned about specs and more interested in Facebooking.

    Pre-orders start today and will be available on April 12 for $99.99.

    Who's getting one? Quick! Someone make a MySpace phone! ...
    by Published on 04-01-2013 09:48 AM
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    I didn’t see this coming but Industry Canada has just approved a surprise merger between Bell and TELUS.

    While Bell and TELUS have been sharing networks for a few years, they’re separate companies that compete with each other.

    A Bell spokesperson had this to say

    “A merger of equals will create unparalleled value for our shareholders. By consolidating the market we’ll be able to increase ARPU substantially while at the same time cutting costs. Further, the combined company will be able to dominate the upcoming spectrum auction. We can start charging extra for LTE, introduce 4 year contracts, 250MB ‘unlimited’ data and a new Network Access Fee.”

    You’re probably wondering why Industry Canada would approve such a merger given that they’re trying to increase competition. Turns out one of Industry Canada’s key conditions for the merger is that the newly merged company not operate under the name Bell or TELUS. That’s right, the new company won’t be known as Bell or TELUS.

    In order for the merger to be approved Bell will transfer their trademark to Wind Mobile which going forward will be known as Bell Mobility while Mobilicity will now be known as TELUS.

    Besides being able to merge, the combined company will be allowed to keep their combined spectrum.



    That leaves a big mystery as to what the new company will be called. My sources say that there is a shortlist including: Bellus and Canadian Regional Telecom (CARTEL). In the meantime, they’re going with the name “TELL”.

    It will also be interesting to see what will happen to Koodo and Virgin Mobile. Rumor has it that they will also combine into Voodoo Wireless.

    More details on the merger will follow shortly.

    ...
    by Published on 03-21-2013 04:15 PM
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    2. News,
    3. Carriers

    First round of bids are tomorrow, according to The Globe and Mail:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/repor...ticle10062360/

    How is it I am not surprised? ...
    by Published on 03-14-2013 08:58 PM
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    2. Devices,
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    4. Carriers
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    Today Samsung announced the Samsung Galaxy S4.


    • 4.99" Full HD Super AMOLED display. 1920x1080, 441 ppi with Gorilla Glass 3
    • 1.9Ghz Quad-core processor or 1.6Ghz Octa-Core processor.
    • Android 4.2.2
    • 13 and 2 megapixel cameras
    • LTE with support for up to 6 bands (for roaming).
    • 16/32/64GB built-in storage which can be expanded with MicroSD cards
    • 2600mAh removable battery
    • 130g and 7.9mm thin
    • physical home, menu and back keys
    • available in white or black


    The body is now poly carbonate with a special finish on the back.

    On the software side, Samsung has some new software features including Samsung Smart Pause. This allows you to pause videos by looking away. It also allows you to scroll the browser by looking and your face and what you're doing with your wrists and scrolls the page up or down.

    Both cameras can record pictures or video simultaneously. The camera software allows you to choose frame effects before you take the simultaneous shot.

    There's a Dual Video Call feature which allows you chat with both cameras at once (I think this requires Chat-On).

    There are 2 shooting modes including a Drama shot (no, it doesn't make your wife look fatter causing more drama). Drama shots snaps up to 100 photos in a 4 second span and then chooses specific pictures to create a shot where the subject appears multi times. It's great for action.

    Story Album takes your pictures, puts them into an Album. You can order a physical album if you want.

    Group Play allows you to share music, photos, documents and games without having to be connected to the network or a WiFi access point (presumably this is WiFi Direct). There's a cool Share Music feature which lets you play the same music through up to 8 supported phones.

    S Translator can translate both text and voice. You can say something to the GS4 English, it will translate it into another Language, hear the respond and translate it into English. Very cool.

    Air View allows you to hover over content to preview it without having to open it. This is similar to what you can do with a S-Pen on a Note 2.

    S Voice Drive is a car optimized feature which allows you make calls, check messages, etc while you're driving.

    Samsung Optical Reader is a OCR program/QR code program. It can translate, call, text message and search.

    Samsung WatchON is a fancy name for the IR Blaster which allows you to control your home theater. It can also pull information from an EPG (Electronic Programming Guide, nice).

    S Health is software to tell you you're fat using built in sensor. Certain functions will require you to buy accessories which include a S-Band (presumably like a Nike fuel band), heart rate monitor, etc.

    The new S4 looks nice but many of the new software features while very cool and snazzy aren't features I'd use in my everyday life. Many of them are very niche like S-Translate, Share Music, etc.

    The only one I could see myself using is the Drama Shot feature, WatchON (the IR Blasters) and maybe the driving feature. And all someone would have to do is write software to recreate Drama Shot (I have this on my iPhone already and I'm sure someone made an Android version). Ditto for the driving feature.

    Hardware is a evolution of what you have now. With the exception of the IR blasters I'm not sure the GS4 will really allow me to do anything I can't already do with a GS3.

    In Canada the Samsung GALAXY S 4 will be available from Bell, Eastlink, Fido, Koodoo, Mobilicity, Rogers, Sasktel, TELUS, Videotron, Virgin Mobile and Wind Mobile in Q2.

    In the 'States it will be coming to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, as well as US Cellular and Cricket.

    Who's getting one? Or are you going to keep what you have now or go get a Sony Xperia Z/ZL, HTC One or wait to see what Apple comes out with later? ...
    by Published on 02-20-2013 12:40 PM
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    2. News,
    3. Carriers
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    TELUS just released their Network Experience application for Android, iPhone and pre-OS10 Blackberries. It can be downloaded in each platform's respective app store. Just search for 'TELUS'

    Sounds like a really cool idea but how do you report no service if there's no service?

    Actually, I gave the Android version a try and the app is pretty easy to use. It automatically knows where you are. If you want, you can tap the map and select another spot. ...
    by Published on 02-14-2013 10:24 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. News,
    4. Carriers

    Just got word that the Sony Xperia ZL is coming to Canada beginning in April.

    It will be available on Rogers, Bell, Mobilicity, Wind, MTS and Videotron.

    It's the first in what should be many phones from Android OEMs in 2013 with quad core (or more) processors, 5"+ screens with resolutions of 1920x1080, 13MP cameras and 2GB of RAM.

    It will be available in black. No word on pricing. My guess would be that it will be priced at around the Galaxy Note 2's level. ...
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