• Carriers

    by Published on 09-10-2018 03:00 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    So I'm back from two weeks in New Zealand (just Auckland, really), and in case anyone else heading that way needs a local SIM card, here's what I think is your best bet: the NZ Travel SIM from Vodafone.

    The first thing to note is that our plan isn't actually listed on Vodafone's site; they're currently showing 4GB for $49 NZD but, as you can clearly see above, what we got instead was 3GB for $43, the equivalent of about $28 USD or $38.50 CAD. While more reasonable than any Big Three plan in Canada that I can think of, it's not nearly as good a deal as what you can get on Optus in Australia—500MB per day for only $2 Aussie dollary-doos.

    The good news is that the SIMs are available at Auckland International Airport upon arrival. Before we even got to immigration we passed by two manned kiosks, plus a third from a competing MVNO. We were able to get our phones connected without having to enter any additional APNs or proxies, and paid for the SIMs at a nearby duty-free counter.

    Vodafone's service was excellent and we had no issues connecting anywhere, even on the somewhat remote island of Waiheke. These particular SIMs also include 200 minutes of calling and 200 texts, even to select international destinations. We didn't have a need for either of those, but they were certainly nice to have. If there's a trip to New Zealand in your future and you need a local SIM, check Vodafone's current rates at the link immediately below.

    Links: Vodafone NZ Travel SIM

    by Published on 08-21-2018 03:00 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    You're pretty much looking at it. But I should probably explain.

    I signed the girlfriend and I up for Virgin this past spring, taking advantage of a bonus data promotion that was happening at the time. For me 5 GB of data for $70 CAD/month became an acceptable value only with a lifetime bonus of 3 GB added to the mix. My only issue with this bonus data is how Virgin deliberately obfuscates my usage whenever I check it on their website or app.

    According to Virgin I eat through my 3 GB of bonus data first, then move on to the main course of 5 GB after that. Take another look at the screen shot above and you can probably figure out why they do this—to deliberately mislead me into buying a data add-on before I've even used half of my allotment for the month! As you'd expect, their data add-ons are a decidedly better deal than the $7/100 MB overage fee that you'd otherwise have to pay. Here are the three options that they offer me when I click through:

    $7 for an additional 200 MB
    $20 for an additional 1 GB
    $40 for an additional 3 GB

    ... But remember, I still have 5 GB of unused data on my plan. I know this. They know this. Yet they still seek to deceive.

    So a question for anyone who signed up with Fido or Koodo for a bonus 3 GB plan this past spring, or one of the current back to school promos with a similar data bonus: Is their usage tracking any shadier than it is with Virgin?

    by Published on 08-17-2018 03:45 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Carriers

    This was certainly unexpected... CNET is not only confirming the existence of the second OnePlus phone to be released this year, but also its first U.S. carrier partner:

    T-Mobile's version of the OnePlus 6T will be optimized for the carrier's network, including the new 600 megahertz band of spectrum being rolled out that promises better and faster coverage.
    To be clear, OnePlus will still sell the 6T without any carrier locks on their online store—come October, however, you'll be able to get one from your local T-Mobile USA shop as well.

    I'll be very interested in finding out whether or not this Tmo-branded 6T will support dual SIM cards. There is ample evidence on these forums of my unfailing belief that no North American carrier will ever sell a dual-SIM phone—for the simple reason that it makes the option for competing service easily available to the customer. Yet one of the core features of a OnePlus phone is support for dual-SIMs. Without it, it would still be a great phone, but with it, and sold by T-Mobile store, well... I guess I'd have to go find a hat to eat.

    Source: CNET

    by Published on 08-15-2018 03:15 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    OpenSignal has published a new report about data speeds on Canada's Big Three mobile networks. I'm of the opinion that OpenSignal speed tests are generally more accurate than Ookla's, since they use a content distribution network for data transfers rather than the nearest available server. These latest results come from over half a billion measurements taken on more than thirty thousand devices.

    But first, the brief:

    Canada has received a big injection of 4G speed in the last six months. Average 4G download speeds rose by at least 5 Mbps in our results for all three operators, but Telus held onto the 4G download award with an average connection speed of 51.1 Mbps. That makes Telus the first Canadian operator to pass the 50 Mbps threshold in our national metrics.
    And now the results. As you can probably guess, it's all about Telus.

    4G Download Speed
    Telus - 51.05 Mbps
    Bell - 42.41 Mbps
    Rogers - 32.77 Mbps

    4G Upload Speed
    Telus - 11.29 Mbps
    Rogers - 10.02 Mbps
    Bell - 9.38 Mbps

    4G Latency
    Telus - 40.38 ms
    Bell - 43.39 ms
    Rogers - 50.15 ms

    4G Availability
    Bell & Telus - 88.4 %
    Rogers - 86.38 %

    3G Download Speed
    Bell - 5.54 Mbps
    Telus - 5.28 Mbps
    Rogers - 4.63 Mbps

    3G Latency
    Telus - 67.38 ms
    Bell - 72.59 ms
    Rogers - 89.85 ms

    Though these numbers are national averages, the only regional results cited in the report come from Montreal and Toronto. Western Canadians can add their devices to the test pool by downloading the OpenSignal app for Android or iOS.

    Source: OpenSignal

    by Published on 08-02-2018 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    Shaw wireless president Paul McAleese had his first big press event this week, after taking charge of Freedom Mobile last April. In a sit-down attended by the Financial Post, he outlined two attack vectors in a new ad campaign featuring the other new face of Freedom, Canadian comedic actor Will Arnett. Here's the first ad, courtesy of iPhone in Canada:

    This first 30-second spot goes after a staple of the Big Three's business model, the family sharing plan. I believe the implied message here is what any parent could probably tell you, that shared data really means that your kids get all of it, and you make do with any scraps left over.

    Future ads will address the sorry state of data overages from this country's incumbent carriers. Says McAleese:

    “The data overage charges in this country are astonishing. I’m surprised there’s not more of a revolt about that.”
    What do you think of the new faces of Freedom Mobile?

    Sources: Financial Post, iPhone in Canada

    by Published on 07-20-2018 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    With the expiry of the 3 GB bonus data promotion parroted by Canada's incumbent carriers, Freedom Mobile has a new offering that I hope the Big Three will also copy: a low-cost data-only plan with a usable amount of data. It can be found on Freedom's site under Home Plans, and looks like this:

    Data Plan 1 GB

    Home Network
    Data: 1 GB full-speed data
    Talk: Unlimited incoming calls; $0.05/min for outgoing calls Canada-wide
    Text: Unlimited global text, picture and video messaging

    Away Canada Network
    Data: $0.05/MB
    Talk: $0.15/min. for incoming and outgoing calls Canada-wide
    Text: $0.05/text to Canada and the U.S.

    Included Features
    Call control (Caller ID, Missed Call Alerts, Conference Calling, Call Forwarding, Call Waiting)
    Freedom Wi-Fi access

    $25/month with digital discount
    $30/month regular price

    That digital discount is already being complained about on the forums, but it's actually more generous than the $2/month auto-pay discount that you'd get from Public Mobile. Granted, the person that this type of plan is for may not have a credit card, so that's unfortunate.

    Still, this plan is so much better than the laughably-bad alternatives from Bell, Rogers and Telus. One can only hope that they're shamed into matching it.

    Source: Mobile Syrup

    by Published on 07-19-2018 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Carriers

    OpenSignal has just published another report on mobile network speeds in the USA. Here's the brief:

    The U.S. mobile industry has gotten a jolt of bandwidth in the past year, causing average 4G download speeds among all four operators to climb. T-Mobile and Verizon have now crossed the 20 Mbps threshold for average 4G download speeds in our measurements—a milestone that seemed quite distant a year ago.
    And here are the numbers, from over 8 million measurements on almost four hundred thousand devices, collected between mid-March and mid-June:

    4G Download Speed
    T-Mobile - 21.57 Mbps
    Verizon - 20.56 Mbps
    AT&T - 15.08 Mbps
    Sprint - 14.46 Mbps

    3G Download Speed
    T-Mobile - 3.64 Mbps
    AT&T - 2.77 Mbps
    Sprint - 0.98 Mbps
    Verizon - 0.85 Mbps

    Overall Download Speed
    T-Mobile - 20.57 Mbps
    Verizon - 19.23 Mbps
    AT&T - 13.69 Mbps
    Sprint - 12.57 Mbps

    4G Upload Speed
    T-Mobile - 7.45 Mbps
    Verizon - 6.94 Mbps
    AT&T - 4.51 Mbps
    Sprint - 2.52 Mbps

    4G Latency
    AT&T - 54.05 ms
    T-Mobile - 56.42 ms
    Verizon - 61.92 ms
    Sprint - 64.29 ms

    3G Latency
    T-Mobile - 85.05 ms
    AT&T - 98.46 ms
    Sprint - 131.01 ms
    Verizon - 139.6 ms

    4G Availability
    T-Mobile - 93.67%
    Verizon - 93.67%
    AT&T - 88.43%
    Sprint - 87.74%

    Note that these numbers are national averages; for regional results, consult the link below. And don't forget to add your device to the test pool with the OpenSignal app for Android or iOS.

    Source: OpenSignal

    by Published on 07-06-2018 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    One of Canada's Big Three carriers reached a new high (or low) this week, raising rates on data overages from 7 to 10 cents per megabyte. It's only Bell testing these uncharted waters at the moment, but if history teaches us anything then Rogers and Telus are sure to follow. Hopefully the mid-tier sub-brands will be exempt from this new "feature"—for the moment Virgin Mobile's overage rate remains the same.

    Someone from Bell took a break from making snow angels in huge piles of cash to inform Mobile Syrup that the increased rates will apply to new plans only; existing customers are grandfathered in at a slightly-less egregious rate of $70/GB. Furthermore, Bell will cap overages at 10GB, so you'll never be on the hook for more than $1,000 in extra fees. How thoughtful!

    For any smartphone user in this country who ever thought they'd be able to enjoy unlimited data plans like our American friends, think again.

    Source: Mobile Syrup

    by Published on 07-04-2018 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Carriers

    Late last week the National Security Agency issued a press release informing the public that call data records (CDRs) from hundreds of millions of phone calls and text messages were in the process of being deleted. Why? From the release:

    NSA is deleting the CDRs because several months ago NSA analysts noted technical irregularities in some data received from telecommunications service providers. These irregularities also resulted in the production to NSA of some CDRs that NSA was not authorized to receive. Because it was infeasible to identify and isolate properly produced data, NSA concluded that it should not use any of the CDRs. Consequently, NSA, in consultation with the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, decided that the appropriate course of action was to delete all CDRs.

    This particular data set of CDRs—which includes information about who called or texted who and when, but not the actual call or text itself—goes all the way back to 2015, and was collected under the authority of the USA Freedom Act. The Freedom Act differs from the older and more controversial Patriot Act in that it's the telecom providers who bear the responsibility of collecting metadata; the NSA can only request specific records, and only with a court order.

    And yet, according to the New York Times, the agency still managed to collect over half a million call data records in 2017 alone.

    Source: NSA.gov via New York Times

    by Published on 06-29-2018 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Rumors,
    4. Carriers

    PCMag had a sit-down with OnePlus CEO Pete Lau at the Shanghai, China edition of Mobile World Congress, where it was revealed that the upstart OEM was not only working on a 5G-capable smartphone for next year, but looking to sell it through a carrier channel in the U.S. as well:

    Lau said OnePlus wants to go with carrier sales because it lets more people in the U.S. have hands-on time with phones before buying them, which so far people have only been able to do at periodic pop-up events.

    Lau didn't specify a carrier, or whether he is talking to more than one carrier. The OnePlus 6 currently works well on AT&T's and T-Mobile's networks, but as the company uses common Qualcomm chipsets, it's conceivable that it could make a phone that works with any US carrier.
    As a OnePlus user myself I'm skeptical about this, and not just because of the company's prevalence towards #HYPE. Since their second release OnePlus has made it their mission statement to sell dual-SIM hardware, and I can't ever see AT&T selling a phone that could undercut their revenue by allowing a SIM from another provider. Also, OnePlus currently sells a single SKU (plus available upgrades for storage and RAM) that supports most networks around the world. Unless their 5G modem is going to support CDMA-based networks as well, they're going to have a fragmentation problem on their hands.

    On the other hand, it was a joy to see OnePlus hardware on display in the carrier shops of Copenhagen; if they can score a similar deal with a carrier in the U.S. then good for them. I just don't think it's ever going to happen.

    Source: PCMag.com

    by Published on 06-25-2018 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    The Financial Post has a feature about how this country's small wireless carriers—Quebecor and Shaw, specifically—find themselves in rare agreement with Bell, Rogers and Telus on the subject of affordable data-only plans mandated by the CRTC.

    The Big Three have clearly demonstrated their contempt for the regulator, with laughably-bad offerings which technically adhere to the mandate but are practically useless for any prospective customer. Quebecor and Shaw, which run the Vidéotron and Freedom Mobile networks respectively, argue that the mandate risks hurting their business:

    Quebecor argued price controls aren’t necessary given an increase in competition. It noted that about 20 brands compete in Canada’s wireless market (the Big Three operate half) and said it plans to compete in the low-cost segment. It also argued that any price or data threshold could quickly become obsolete given a decline in data prices.

    Shaw, on the other hand, argued competition is nascent in the wireless market given a “vastly unequal playing field” where the incumbents have advantages when it comes to spectrum and tower access. It pointed out the Big Three account for 89 per cent of subscribers and 91 per cent of revenue in Canada’s wireless market.
    The CRTC's cheap data initiative may end up being another skinny cable debacle, a noble idea that Canada's Big Three are perfectly willing to sabotage. This time, though, there's risk of collateral damage as well.

    Source: Financial Post via iPhone in Canada

    by Published on 06-07-2018 08:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    I really hope that Rose Behar wasn't personally out of pocket to attend this year's Canadian Telecom Summit; her report to Mobile Syrup on the event clearly demonstrates just how out of touch our Big Three carriers really are. For proof, here are some choice quotes from Telus SVP of regulatory affairs Ted Woodhead (pictured above), taken from a panel on the subject of the new low-cost plans mandated by the CRTC.

    When these laughably plans were rightfully called a joke, a Bell exec said they weren't meant as such, and Woodhead took it from there:

    “1 GB is just a nice number in your head. But if the purpose is for incidental access, that’s what those plans are designed to use.”
    Woodhead elaborated with the example of a child, who would presumably have WiFi at home and school but not for the walk between one and the other.

    “That’s the exact use case we were provided with. For less than a cup of coffee a day you get 600 MB. I don’t think that’s worthy of the derision we have faced.”
    In other words we should all feel really bad for hurting the Big Three's feelings, and unreasonably dreaming of gigabytes in a reality where megabytes are clearly enough.

    What year is it again?

    Source: Mobile Syrup

    by Published on 05-28-2018 07:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    We've seen this type of behaviour before: in parts of the country where there's a strong local carrier Canada's Big Three suddenly become competitive. And that's exactly what's happening in Manitoba right now. Rogers launched the opening salvo by doubling the data on its 10 and 15GB family plans; Bell and Telus then upped the ante by offering a new 20GB shared data plan for $95/month—with a bonus 20GB. That's right, 40GB/month for $95 CAD, or $2.375 per gigabyte, along with Canada-wide calling and (probably international) SMS.

    What's different this time around is that there's actually no local carrier in this market; Bell acquired MTS last year. So what exactly is going on here?

    Daniel Bader, alumnus of Mobile Syrup and currently the managing editor at Android Central, told the CBC that these deals might simply be due to "a legacy of competition" in the province. In other words, it doesn't matter that there's no local competitor now—the mere fact that there used to be one is enough for the Big Three to offer palatable plans to the local public.

    And here I was, secretly hoping that Manitoba was being used as a testbed for more reasonable data buckets for the rest of us...

    Source: CBC

    by Published on 05-24-2018 06:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Carriers

    For Moto fans, the wait is over. Kinda.

    First leaked back in January, the G6 family—that is, the G6, G6 Play and G6 Plus—were finally made official last month. But no one in North America has been able to buy one. Until today.

    The G6 is now available from Verizon, for $240 USD or $10/month.
    The G6 Play is now available from Boost Mobile, for $129.99 USD.

    As for other U.S. carriers, the G6 is coming soon to Tracfone, while the G6 Play will eventually be offered by AT&T, Cricket and Virgin Mobile—the Cricket version will be re-branded the G6 Forge for some reason. Ting and Republic Wireless will carry both the G6 and G6 Play, as will the usual big box electronics retailers that sell unlocked phones. Apparently Walmart will only carry the G6 Play.

    In Canada a carrier-branded G6 will only be available from Vidéotron, but you'll be able to score a G6 Play from Bell, Freedom Mobile, SaskTel, Virgin Mobile and Vidéotron as well. Unlocked Moto devices have traditionally been harder to find in this country, but come 2020 I'm sure there will be some refurbs available at your local Staples.

    Happy hunting!

    Sources: Android Central, Android Police

    by Published on 05-11-2018 06:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    The bad news? Fido, Koodo and Virgin Mobile have all raised their rates on BYOD plans—as I understand it, the new pricing applies everywhere except Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Québec. The good news? Rates have only gone up by $5/month, and the old rates are still available without unlimited calls.

    After going back to the dark side last month, securing an acceptable phone plan ($60 for 6GB), I was thinking about bumping my monthly data bucket up to 8GB before the prices went up. I paid a visit to my local Virgin Mobile kiosk where, sure enough, the prices have gone up.

    Here's a sample of the current BYOD plans:

    What's changed is that you'll have to pay an additional $5/month if you want unlimited minutes. I can't help but be reminded of Freedom Mobile's "Big Gig" plans here—to be fair, though, those Freedom plans include zero free minutes, while Fido, Koodo and Virgin will at least give you 500. Remember too that Koodo's bonus data is only good for 24 months.

    Choose your poison at Fido, Koodo or Virgin Mobile.

    by Published on 05-08-2018 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Carriers,
    4. Apps

    To be fair, I don't think that my current carrier (Virgin Mobile) is even participating. I did receive an alert about the alert from Rogers, as did my neighbour on Freedom Mobile. It doesn't look like I missed much, however; by all accounts the first big tests of Alert Ready, Canada's new wireless alerting system, were a big fail.

    In Québec a typo prevented the test from being executed properly, which isn't exactly encouraging. One thing I didn't know about Alert Ready is that it's run by Pelmorex, who own and operate Météomédia and The Weather Network. If you have either of these apps installed on your phone then you should receive any emergency alert through that, even if your phone isn't Alert Ready-ready.

    In Ontario it quickly became apparent just how many phones aren't yet compatible with the technology; in my girlfriend's office exactly one phone received the test alert. My advice? Install The Weather Network app on your phone. Better to risk duplicate alerts than to get none at all.

    If you need it, carrier-specific information about Alert Ready is available for Bell, Rogers and Telus.

    by Published on 04-30-2018 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers

    Yesterday Sprint and T-Mobile announced a friendly merger, more accurately a friendly acquisition of the former by the latter. The $26 billion USD all-stock deal would give T-Mobile's parent company Deutsche Telekom a 42% stake in the new venture and Sprint's majority shareholder Softbank a 27% stake, with the remainder for investors on publicly-traded markets.

    The new entity—still called T-Mobile and with John Legere as CEO—will have upwards of 125 million customers, bringing its combined subscriber base much closer to larger rivals AT&T and Verizon. That's one troubling aspect of this proposed deal, as the number of nationwide carriers would shrink from four to three. We Canadians often lament the increased competition that a fourth national player would provide.

    According to Sprint and T-Mobile, however, the deal would "spark the 5G economy", creating jobs and economic growth through investment and innovation in this nascent wireless standard. For the more immediate matter of current spectrum redeployment, someone on the T-Mobile reddit wrote a lengthy post on how carrier aggregation might work under the new venture.

    Finally, it's important to note that this deal is subject to regulatory approval. Last November the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to block the proposed acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T.

    Sources: 5G For All, reddit, The Verge

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