cell phone update, with thanks

In March, I asked about your experience with the newer Canadian cell phone providers. My Blackberry Pearl was reaching the end of its annoyingly short lifespan, and I knew it was time to do something I don't enjoy and am not very good at: comparison shop. Your comments were very helpful. Thank you! After school ended, I did the research.

I had been using Rogers. We use Rogers for internet and cable TV, and I've had no problem with their service. But I've never been happy paying a "system access fee" (shouldn't my plan give me access to the system?), or paying extra for voice mail, and you don't get much for your money.

Looking at Mobilicity, Public, Wind, Fido (owned by Rogers) and Virgin Mobile, I quickly saw that I could either save money with a less expensive plan for more limited use, or I could spend about the same but get much more.

I suppose I should have opted to buy a less expensive plan - our budget is very tight, and we're all about cutting down on expenses these days - but I couldn't get my mind around it. Owning a phone but having to monitor my usage feels really inconvenient to me. I've never had massive cell phone bills; we have VoIP at home - unlimited local and long-distance - so my cell is not my primary phone. On the other hand, for slightly less than I was paying Rogers, I could get much more. That's what I decided to do.

I went with Wind Mobile, and upgraded my Blackberry Pearl to a Curve. For $25/month, I have unlimited "local" calling (which actually covers a very large geographic area), $0.15/minute for US and non-local Canada (which will not add up to very much), and unlimited texting to Canada and the US (a big savings over Rogers; I limited my texting because of long-distance charges).

I also added an unlimited data plan for only $10 more per month. I had no data plan for my old Blackberry, because Rogers' plans were too expensive; I had been using my Blackberry as a phone plus organizer. But for $10 a month, I'm back to having a real handheld, like I did when I had my old iPAQ.

The only question mark is Wind's coverage. They are building a new network, so they don't have the kind of coverage the big providers do, but there's been a big improvement over the last year. I'm hopeful that the trend will continue. For my daily purposes, the coverage seems fine. For travel, $0.15/minute is not a big deal (sadly, I don't travel that much), or you can change plans for any given month. With Rogers travel add-ons, I always end up paying for more than I need. Wind's prices, even out of network, will save me money.

I love my new Blackberry! The Bold seemed like overkill, but the Curve is a huge improvement over the Pearl. In case you are wondering, I don't want an iPhone or any touch-screen phone. I'm definitely a Blackberry user. Right now I'm having that telltale sign of a good purchase: repeated thoughts of "How did I ever live without this?"

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