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mrbarlow (Offline)
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Question Best option for travelling to Canada? - 09-01-2007, 09:12

Hi all.

We've just booked a 10-day trip to Canada (Toronto) in May and I wondered if anyone here has had any experiences of using a pre-paid SIM there?

I'm not too worried about obtaining the SIM since there appear to be a number of people on ebay selling them, but my main questions would be:

1/ Which would be the better option (Fido/Rogers)
2/ What would coverage be like on 1900-only given that I have only tri-band phones and do not really want to buy a quad-band for the relatively short time I'll be there.

Any comments greatly appreciated.
   
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msjfb (Offline)
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Default 09-01-2007, 20:33

my previous response never got posted... do here goes again:
I have been with Fido since 1998: they started out with excellent 1900 coverage in urban areas but with limited rural coverage, and they were bought out by Rogers a couple of years ago. Rogers implemented mostly 850 coverage extending to rural areas.
Both networks have now pretty much been merged, but it would be fair to assume that 1900 coverage in urban areas is still good with Fido. An excellent source of information can be found at www.howardforums.com in the Fido or Rogers forums.
Good luck...
   
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PhotoJim (Offline)
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Default 09-01-2007, 22:05

I'd check the prepaid packages for each. For short-term use, Fido has lower rates with very short expiries. For infrequent use, Rogers has an option to have a one-year expiry. Another option if you want long expiry is 7-11's SpeakOut Wireless which uses the Rogers network. See the forum at howardforums.com to learn about SpeakOut.

As for phone, you're best to have 850 and 1900, but you'll be okay with 1900. You're most likely to lose signal on 1900 when you're inside buildings that don't have their own picocells. (The Rogers Centre, e.g., not shockingly, has its own sites so you get full signal just about everywhere.)

The only place I had borderline signal was just east of Guelph, and that's quite a ways out of Toronto (but that was with a quad-band, mind).

Every Rogers tower supports at least 1900 and every outdoor tower (to my knowledge) supports 850 also, so the network is pretty comprehensive.

You pay for incoming calls here so get a number local to where you will be most of the time, or you will incur long distance charges as well as airtime when you get inbound calls. In Toronto, an area code 416 or 647 number (+1 416 or +1 647) will be local.

Another option is to use the American T-Mobile. The rates in Canada are fairly expensive (about 60 cents US per minute) but reasonable compared to what you'll likely pay with your own UK provider, and the rates in the US are exceptionally good. It's one of the cheapest prepaid services to keep going, so you can avoid losing your paid-up time - once you have put $100 in time into it, any top-up will give you a one-year expiry.


CA: SaskTel, Wind postpaid; Rogers, Bell postpaid iPad flex plans; US: T-Mobile postpaid data, prepaid voice; PureTalk (AT&T MVNO) prepaid voice/data; AT&T prepaid iPad plan

Hardware: Too much but notably iPhone 5, iPad Mini Retina LTE, Moto G LTE (N.A. version), iPhone 4. All unlocked.
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mrbarlow (Offline)
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Default 10-01-2007, 14:04

Thanks very much for such a comprehensive reply, PhotoJim.

The T-Mobile US idea is an intriguing one especially with such a long validity period and I would consider that were I to know for certain that I was also to visit the USA. Alas this trip to Toronto is instead of (rather than as well as) San Francisco so I think I'd be better off with a Canadian SIM.

I think we'll spent most of our time in the city; I don't want to go to the expense of buying a quad-band phone so hopefully I'll be ok solely on 1900MHZ.

If coverage is essentially the same I suppose it's just pricing plans that are the differentiator and they look much of a muchness.

Can you recommend any good calling cards that I could use whilst in Canada?
   
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Default 10-01-2007, 15:33

I'm actually not that familiar with calling cards, but they are available at just about every little convenience store here, plus Wal-Mart and other department stores. Getting a rate below 5 cents a minute to call the UK should be easy.

You'll be okay enough with GSM 1900. If you really want to be a geek, get an unlocked dual- or quad-band phone that supports 850 and 1900 (or more). You can get them here really cheaply. The Nokia 6590i is a nice little candybar phone that people more or less give away used now, and it's dual band. Just make sure it's unlocked, or locked to Rogers so that you can use a Rogers or SpeakOut Wireless SIM.

SpeakOut seems to be the best prepaid GSM plan here right now. It's 20 cents Canadian a minute and has (I think) a one-year expiry (it's at least 180 days). Long distance is additional.

As an aside, I just want to make sure you know that inbound calling is different here than in the UK. Mobile phone numbers are regional numbers just like landline numbers are, and in fact are basicaly indistinguishable. The mobile phone owner pays for inbound calls (unless he has an unlimited plan). This also means that your friends in the UK can call you in Canada for the same rate they can call a landline, since the call is processed the same way. So depending on how you want to do your calling back home, it may be most efficient to have them call you. (You could send an SMS or make a one-minute call there to tell them to call.)


CA: SaskTel, Wind postpaid; Rogers, Bell postpaid iPad flex plans; US: T-Mobile postpaid data, prepaid voice; PureTalk (AT&T MVNO) prepaid voice/data; AT&T prepaid iPad plan

Hardware: Too much but notably iPhone 5, iPad Mini Retina LTE, Moto G LTE (N.A. version), iPhone 4. All unlocked.
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PhotoJim (Offline)
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Default 10-01-2007, 15:34

By the way I may be in Toronto in May (I go once a year to catch some Blue Jays baseball) so stay in touch if you want an excuse to have a pint.


CA: SaskTel, Wind postpaid; Rogers, Bell postpaid iPad flex plans; US: T-Mobile postpaid data, prepaid voice; PureTalk (AT&T MVNO) prepaid voice/data; AT&T prepaid iPad plan

Hardware: Too much but notably iPhone 5, iPad Mini Retina LTE, Moto G LTE (N.A. version), iPhone 4. All unlocked.
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mrbarlow (Offline)
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Default 10-01-2007, 17:27

Thanks very much for your help, PhotoJim. Yes, I'm aware of the incoming call charges in North America - it seems bizarre to most of us in this part of the world, but there we are...

I've had a quick look at Speakout but it seems info is at a premium and I can't see anywhere selling SIM-only.

In ref to the calling cards, do you know whether either Rogers or Fido charge for calling toll-free numbers?
   
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Default 10-01-2007, 17:27

That would be cool!
   
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PhotoJim (Offline)
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Default 10-01-2007, 18:51

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrbarlow View Post
Thanks very much for your help, PhotoJim. Yes, I'm aware of the incoming call charges in North America - it seems bizarre to most of us in this part of the world, but there we are...

I've had a quick look at Speakout but it seems info is at a premium and I can't see anywhere selling SIM-only.

In ref to the calling cards, do you know whether either Rogers or Fido charge for calling toll-free numbers?
It is a little bizarre but it has its advantages. I'm going to the UK in September and got a couple of O2 SIMs. The lowest rate I can find to forward my calls from Canada to the UK is about 30 cents a minute. If you guys had the same method for inbound calling that we have, it'd cost me 5 cents a minute for the forward and (after my first 3 minutes of airtime of the day) 5p a minute on the prepaid phone, which is about half the price.

Oh well. It's still not bad.

As for toll-free numbers, Canadian providers don't differentiate between local and toll-free numbers. The rate to call them is precisely the same. That having been said, any good calling card is going to have a local Toronto number for you to call. One in four Canadians lives in the local calling radius of Toronto.


CA: SaskTel, Wind postpaid; Rogers, Bell postpaid iPad flex plans; US: T-Mobile postpaid data, prepaid voice; PureTalk (AT&T MVNO) prepaid voice/data; AT&T prepaid iPad plan

Hardware: Too much but notably iPhone 5, iPad Mini Retina LTE, Moto G LTE (N.A. version), iPhone 4. All unlocked.
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Stu (Offline)
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Default 14-01-2007, 07:29

I pay $0.17 a minute to forward to UK -- www.callcentric.com

Most Canadian prepaids charge a surcharge to call outside the region you are in, e.g. if you are in Montreal and want to call Toronto, you typically pay CN$0.10 a minute to make that call. HOWEVER, many plans do not surcharge beyond that to call the US. E.g. if you are in Montreal it costs the same to call either Toronto or Los Angeles.

That said, look at: AllFreeCalls.net. Free calls to the UK if you call their US number -- +1 712-858-8094.
   
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