Cell Canada

Canadian Cellular Industry News, Insight, & Noise

Posts Tagged ‘Cell’

Great, Easy, & Cheap Cell Phone Long Distance

Posted by Gary on October 2, 2008

We just returned from a couple of trips across Canada and were reminded again of how much we like the Alligato cellular long distance service.  During travel to Toronto, Montreal, Regina, Calgary, and Edmonton, we had to use our cell phone extensively to call long distance back to Vancouver as well as to the other travel cities.  With Alligato, we were able to make these calls easily and confidently, knowing that we were not getting ripped off by the cellular carriers’ LD rates or having to bother with picking up calling cards (not to mention having to watch out for calling card scams).

We had signed up to Alligato on their pay as you go plan back in the summer.  We liked the fact that it was easy to use and there were no setup or any monthly fees.  Their rates are similar to home phone long distance rates – much much lower than cellular carrier long distance rates.  After a month, we switched over to their Unlimited North America calling plan.  It covers unlimited long distance to Canada and the USA for $9.95/month.  It’s an amazing price – we used to pay that much for just one call using Bell’s cellular LD.  We’ve been using it quite a bit since then.  The quality is great and the price is right.  Our bill has been $11.15 per month after GST and PST and we call as much long distance as we want.

This trip just reinforced the value for us.  We probably did over a hundred minutes of long distance per day from our cell phone.  All without worrying about how much it was costing us.  We’d highly recommend that you look at the service if you do any long distance calling from your cell phone.

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Student Cell Phone Plan Deals

Posted by Gary on August 25, 2008

Back To School Student Cell Phone Plans are summarized very well by Firestorm on RedFlagDeals.com. 

Though most of these are better deals than standard market plans, they still pale when compared to corporate plans and employee purchase plans that can be acquired with a bit of homework.  Also, as we recommend in 10 Tips for Saving on Your Cell Phone Bill, ensure that you compare at a total bill level.  Many of the plans below require another $15 for Caller ID and Voicemail, or have similar expensive basic bolt-ons that drive up their price by $10/month to $30/month for most people.

Firestorm’s summary:

                                                                            

Rogers
Not listed on website.

Add these to ANY plan as long as you’re a student:
Evenings start at 6PM for free for 3 years
Home Calling Zone for $5 off/month for 3years
If you sign up for 3 years with $15 or $20 Value Pack, you get $5 off each month for 3 years [remember, $15 value pack includes unlimited web browsing and $100 off any vision phone]

$25 + $6.95 + $0.50 + tax
100 Weekday Minutes
1000 Evening/Weekend Minutes starting at 9pm
500 Incoming Minutes
My5 + 5 (so 10) Local

$45 + $6.95 + $0.50 tax
450 Weekday Minutess
Unlimited Evening/Weekend Minutes starting at 9pm
Unlimited Incoming Minutes
My5 + 5 (so 10) Canada-Wide

Telus
$35 + $6.95 + 0.75 + tax
200 Weekday Minutes
Unlimited Evening/Weekend Minutes starting at 6pm
MyFaves 10 Canada-Wide
Unlimited Web Browsing on PCS devices (not smartphones)

$50 + $6.95 + 0.75 + tax
200 Weekday Minutes
Unlimited Evenings/Weekend Minutes starting at 6pm
MyFaves 10 Canada-Wide
Unlimited Web Browsing, E-mail (PDA smartphones and blackberries only), and Instant Messaging

Bell

$25 + $8.95 + $0.75 + tax
100 Local anytime minutes
Unlimited local calling and texting with 10 numbers
Unlimited local night and weekend (9 p.m. – 7 a.m.)
Call Waiting, Conference Calling

$35 + $8.95 + $0.75 + tax
250 Local anytime minutes
Unlimited local night and weekend (9 p.m. – 7 a.m.)
Unlimited local and Canadian long distance calling and text messaging to your 10 favourite numbers
500 sent and unlimited received picture and video messages
Call Waiting, Conference Calling

$45 + $8.95 + $0.75 + tax
350 + 100 Local anytime minutes
Unlimited local night and weekend (6pm – 7am.)
Unlimited local and Canadian long distance calling and text messaging to your 10 favourite numbers
500 sent and unlimited received picture and video messages
Call Display, Message Centre Express, Call Waiting, Conference Calling

(DEAD) $40 + $8.95 + 0.75 + tax
250 Weekday Minutes
100 Canadian Long Distance Minutes
Unlimited Evening/Weekend Minutes starting at 9 PM
Unlimited Local Incoming Calls
Unlimited Mobile Browsing in Core Network areas (100 minutes in other areas)
Call Display

Virgin
$35 + tax: myCrew 35

* 200 Anytime Minutes
* Unlimited Evening and Weekend Calling Starting at 7pm
* Unlimited Nationwide Talk and Text to 5 Buddies
* Bonus – Get 5 Extra Buddies for 10 in total
* No System Access Fee, No Activation Fee

$45 + tax: myCrew 45

* 400 Anytime Minutes
* Unlimited Evening and Weekend Calling Starting at 7pm
* Unlimited Nationwide Talk and Text to 5 Buddies
* Bonus – Get 5 Extra Buddies for 10 in total
* No System Access Fee, No Activation Fee
Limited Time myTimeTM Bonus

Want unlimited 9-5 calling? Now you can get 8 hours of unlimited daily calling with myTimeTM.

$35 + tax: myTime 35

* 200 Anytime Minutes
* Unlimited Calling within the daily 6-hour calling block
* Unlimited Calling all day Saturday and Sunday
* Bonus – Get 2 Extra hours for a total 8-hour calling block
* No System Access Fee, No Activation Fee

$45 + tax: myTime 45

* 400 Anytime Minutes
* Unlimited Calling within the daily 6-hour calling block
* Unlimited Calling all day Saturday and Sunday
* Bonus – Get 2 Extra hours for a total 8-hour calling block
* No System Access Fee, No Activation Fee

                                                                              

 Anyone find additional student / back to school cell phone deals?

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Great Cheap Phone Services

Posted by Gary on August 4, 2008

Alligato Mobile – Simple and low cost long distance calling from cell phones (alligatomobile.com)

GrandCentral – Free and feature rich single number service (grandcentral.com)

Lypp – Cost effective audio conference calls (lyyp.com)

Maxroam – Cheap multi-country roaming service (maxroam.com)

These are a few of the services that we will be discussing in more detail in future posts.  We are big fans of innovative services that combine the power of the web with traditional telecom to create consumer centric solutions.  We are also big fans of cheap and free.  We have a long history with the economics of the industry and know that cell phone long distance shouldn’t cost 30 cents/minute within Canada, and conferencing shouldn’t cost 60 cents per minute, and roaming certainly shouldn’t cost over $1/minute. 

We are always on the lookout for entrepreneurial businesses that have developed solutions to offer consumers true value in the niches where the carriers are hoarding margin.  We will talk about these services and others on this blog and welcome any suggestions on services that we should try.

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Calling Card Scams, Tricks, and Hidden Fees

Posted by Gary on July 25, 2008

The extremely high cost of long distance calling from our family’s cell phones has been the main reason that, until recently, we’ve held off on canceling our home phone line.  Like many others, we’ve come to realize that our cell phones have become our primary phones and our home phone has been relegated to occasional long distance calling.  The regular monthly bill for our home phone reminded us again last month that we should conduct some research to find a good option for long distance calling from our cell phone and do away with our home phone altogether. 

We’ve never been fans of calling cards, finding them to be just too much hassle.  Given the renewed motivation to toss the home phone, they seemed to be the obvious solution for occasional long distance calling from a cell phone.  Cheap too – we saw advertised rates, on card faces, of under one cent per minute to North America.  Almost too good to be true compared to the 30 cents per minute our cellular carriers charge for the same long distance calling destinations.

Anything too good to be true typically is just that, too good to be true.  If you flip calling cards over to view their back, and if you strain to read the fine print at the very bottom, and then persist to read it to about the two-thirds point, the published hidden fees begin to show up.

Published hidden fees such as:

  • Connection Charge.  A fee on the first minute of the call that is 6 to 10 times higher than the advertised per minute rate.
  • Minimum Call Charge.  A minimum charge per call.  On the cards that we reviewed, this equated to a minimum 4 to 6 minute call.
  • Two minute rounding.  We were completely surprised by this minute increment.  The card balance decrements in two minute increments!
  • Aging.  This is where the remaining card balance automatically decreases every day after it is first registered, whether you use it or not.

How does anyone ever know what they are really paying per minute with all of these additional varying charges?  We applied the rate structure, to the best that we could understand it, from one of these cards to a small sample of our recent long distance calls and discovered that instead of paying the 0.9 cents per minute on the face of the card, we were averaging over 8 cents per minute.  Just ridiculous.  Why do people keep buying these cards? 

On top of these published tricks, we learned that there are also many unpublished tricks.  Cards can be set to count a minute every 45 seconds.  Others have hidden time of day premiums, cell phone premiums, payphone premiums, and who know what else.

We are surprised that this industry exists in the way it does and with its apparent size.  There must be a study on human nature in here somewhere.  The gullibility of humans and how the species prefers a nice simple number while comfortably ignoring the pickpocket on its back.

To cut a long story short, we obviously passed on calling cards, we continued looking for alternative solutions and we found one in a cell phone long distance service from a company called Alligato Mobile.  The service seemed very straight forward on their web site, the rates were very good, and it was easy to sign up.  We’ve been using it for almost a month now and so far so good.   It is easy to use and the call quality is good.  We haven’t received our first bill yet and that will probably be the real test of whether we get what we think we bought.  We will keep you posted.

UPDATE AUG 3, 2008: We received our first bill from Alligato a few days ago and it looks very straightforward.  Each long distance call we made, minutes per call times the per minute rate.  Plus GST and PST.  No other charges or hidden fees.

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10 Tips For Saving On Your Cell Bill

Posted by Gary on July 15, 2008

To help navigate the recent changes in the cellular industry from a consumer perspective, we have summarized a list of 10 Tips for Managing Your Cell Phone Bill

  1. Avoid signing up for service contracts that will extend past early 2010. The emergence of new carriers in late 2009 and early 2010 will lead to much better market pricing from both the incumbents and new entrants.
  2. When shopping for a new plan, compare plans at a total bill level, including all options, fees, and charges. This is can potentially add up to twice the advertised local minutes plan charge so it only makes sense to compare plans based on the expected monthly bill versus just one plan component.
  3. Shop at independent dealers, such as Wireless Wave, instead of corporate stores. Our general experience has been that sales people at independent dealers seem to work harder to build the best package deal for customers.
  4. Get the sales people to do the work for you. The best way to shop for plans at the total bill level is to have the sales people build the lowest total bill options for your needs. We recommend taking your last two bills with details on your usage; Minutes usage levels (local, long distance, outgoing, incoming, evenings, and weekends), text usage levels, data usage levels, and options, to independent carrier dealers and letting them build the lowest cost total bill plan that they can to meet your needs. Have them email you the results and you can easily compare total bill options across carriers.
  5. Corporate Plans. Plans available to larger corporations can cost 15% to 30% less than those offered to individual consumers. If you have anyone in your family that works for a large corporation, have them check with their HR or IT department to see if the corporate cellular contract allows for employee purchases.
  6. Do not use the carrier’s long distance. Carrier long distance charges are much higher than home or office long distance charges and are one component of your cellular service that can be easily avoided. For long distance calling from your cell phone, use services from companies like Alligato Mobile. They work well with your cell phone, are very convenient, and cost very little.
  7. Do not use the carrier’s roaming. Roaming charges are very expensive and can easily add more than $1 per minute to your voice usage costs. If you travel frequently, use a service like Maxroam that offers very cost effective roaming calling from most of the countries in the world. If you only need occasional access to roaming, purchase a local prepaid phone or local prepaid SIM card from a shop at your airport of arrival. All international airports usually have shops that offer easy access to these products and they will save you a bundle on calling from your destination country.
  8. Use more text, less voice, and avoid an email plan if you can. As part of your package, purchase a bulk text package and use text instead of email. An average user can communicate as well with an average text message as he or she can within an average email. Just strip away the unnecessary words and get to the point.
  9. Wait to purchase the iPhone. If you can bear to wait. As per Tip #1, avoid locking yourself into a long term contract when significantly better offers will be available in 12 to 18 months.
  10. Use your phone less. Just kidding – we know you can’t.

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