- 1 Basics
- 2 Rogers (Fido, Chatr)
- 3 Telus (Koodo / Public Mobile)
- 4 Bell (Virgin mobile, Lucky Mobile)
- 5 Freedom Mobile (formerly WIND)
- 6 7-Eleven Speak out and Petro Canada Mobility
- 7 PhoneBox
- 8 Foreign SIM cards roaming in Canada
Canada has 3 national mobile providers:
This is added by their resellers, subsidiaries and MVNOs like Fido, Virgin Mobile, Koodo, Chatr, Lucky Mobile, 7-Eleven Speak Out / Petro-Canada, and PhoneBox. We skip regional providers like SaskTel and Bell MTS Wireless (Formerly MTS Mobility), that are present only in one Canadian province. A list of all providers in Canada can be found here.
Upcoming MVNO called dotmobile https://dotmobile.app/
Frequencies and coverage
In the last few years all networks have moved to the GSM-based technology on 3G and 4G/LTE, CDMA is gone.
On 2G (GSM/EDGE) Rogers is the only provider on 850 MHz and 1900 MHz. All operators have 3G (UMTS) on 850 MHz and 1900 MHz. 4G (LTE) is widely available on all providers. If you have signal, chances are you will be getting at least 3G.
The only exception is Freedom Mobile, where its 3G operates on 1700 MHz AWS band in a limited number of cities. They have now deployed LTE on 700 MHz (B13), 1700 MHz (B66, B4), 2500 MHz (B41) and 2600 MHz (B7). Most phones will work with at least one of those frequencies and you can ask in store to test before buying.
MTS Mobility is limited to the province of Manitoba and SaskTel to Saskatchewan, though they will roam on other networks in other provinces, usually at the same rate as is charged in their home province.
In Canada, UMTS-based HSPA+ and DC-HSPA+ used to be called "4G". Real 4G on LTE began some years ago on the Big Three networks on 700 MHz (B12/13/17) and 1700 MHz (B4). Rogers, Bell, Telus and Freedom additionally support the 2600 MHz (B7) frequency, which is far more compatible with devices from overseas, but it is usually not deployed throughout the full footprint and is generally confined to the big cities. Bell and Telus have also refarmed some 1900 MHz (B2) to LTE. Extended coverage (meaning Rogers roaming on Bell/Telus, and the reverse) is not available to prepaid customers, while Freedom "Nationwide" coverage (Freedom roaming on any of the big 3) is available on certain prepaid plans. As a general rule, Bell and Rogers are stronger in the east and Telus is stronger in the west, but Bell and Telus have implemented RAN sharing, so they can effectively be seen as one network. Also important to note is that Rogers only has "extended" coverage in the north of Canada (Yukon/Northwest Territory/Nunavut), so you will not have coverage as a prepaid user. If you need coverage in the north, you will need to sign up with Bell, Telus, or one of their sub-brands, or get an Ice Wireless SIM once you arrive.
While Public Mobile (TELUS), Lucky Mobile (Bell) and Chatr (Rogers) are known to offer cheaper throttled "3G" plans, wireless providers in Canada have not publicly been known to generally offer lower speeds, network/tower priority or access than to their post-paid brands and customers - this is different than in the United States, where providers are publicly known to throttle mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) actively. In Canada, the only major difference between the brands and post-paid exists in customer service hours and device availability.
Frequencies used in Canada
|700, 1700, 2600 MHz
Bands 4, 7, 12/13/17
|Bell and Telus||-||850,
|700, 850, 1700, 1900, 2600 MHz
Bands 2, 4, 5, 7, 12/13/17, 29
|Freedom Mobile||-||1700 MHz
700, 1700, 2500, 2600 MHz
Bands 4, 7, 13, 41, 66
In April 2019 spectrum on the 600 MHz band (B 71) were auctioned to the providers for further coverage.
In some Provinces regional providers operate. Their products are sold only within a limited subscription area. They rely on roaming agreements for national coverage. Some regional operators merged with one of the big three in the last years and only these operators are left:
- Vidéotron: operating in Quebec and East Ontario. 3G on 1700 MHz (AWS) and 4G/LTE on 700 (B17) and 1700 MHz (B4) and national roaming on Rogers. They so far sold only contracts, and started in 2018 a budget brand called fizz.
- SaskTel: operating in the province of Saskatchewan. 3G is on 850 and 1900 MHz and 4G/LTE on 1700 (B4) and 2600 MHz (B38) in this Province only, Canada roaming is on Bell and Telus.
- Eastlink: operating in the provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Southeast Ontario, Newfoundland and New Brunswick a 4G/LTE network on 1700 MHz (AWS) as a triple player without a prepaid offer.
- Ice Wireless: operating in the northern territories of Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and northern Quebec, it operates a 3G network on 850MHz and 1900MHz and a 4G/LTE network on the same bands (B2 and B5). It only has one prepaid plan with data included- $49 for unlimited Canada/US/Mexico voice, SMS, and 1 GB with overuse at $0.02/MB.
From 2018 some Canadian providers offer eSIM support for certain compatible iPhones and a few Android devices. As of 2019 this is offered by Bell, Fido, Freedom, Lucky Mobile, Rogers and Virgin Mobile. Instead of a physical SIM you can download an eSIM profile, if you have one of these phones.
In Canada, all providers are geared toward postpaid customers with contracts, rather than to prepaid clients. Sadly, this is true for all networks and MVNOs - which don’t really compete for prepaid customers, resulting in only a few choices. That’s why Canada has the highest prices for prepaid voice, text and data on the American continent. As in the United States, in Canada prices are always given as prices without taxes. The existence of three large wireless companies and their respective sub-brands means that price fixing is common and unfortunately reduces competition due to the expense of building and operating a wireless network. Freedom Mobile is, therefore, the only national alternative with the exception of Videotron and SaskTel. You may also realize that plans in areas where Videotron and SaskTel offer service are much cheaper than provinces where the incumbents have a monopoly as the regional providers offer competition that does not otherwise exist. This has caused consumers to become upset in recent years and has also sparked a Canadian "Black Market" for cellular plans outside of one's home province. At the end of 2018, Canada’s ‘big three’ nationwide mobile operators Rogers, Telus and Bell have committed to offer a broad range of lower-cost data-only packages to be offered in 2019.
Because of the high rates in Canada, roaming SIM cards and plans from other countries can offer more choices. They are especially appealing when you travel north from the US or Mexico having bought a SIM plan for the previous country already. So at the end of the article some good roaming plans for Canada are shown.
Fees and taxes
Local sales taxes of 5% to 15% apply additionally depending on province. A monthly provincial or municipal fee for access to the 911 emergency services number is collected by some carriers in certain provinces. The amount of the fee is $0.40 to $0.75 and regulated in each province. Customers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Québec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland are affected. This fee is deducted already on the 1st day of usage from your account. Some operators charge a flat rate of $1.25 per month regardless of province (i.e. 7-Eleven). Some others don't charge any (Public Mobile). Data-only plans don't have this fee.
Rogers (Fido, Chatr)
Rogers and its sub-brands are the only national provider who offers GSM-based 2G on 850 MHz and 1900 MHz up to EDGE. Due to network sharing between the other two telcos, Rogers has slightly less coverage than other two but you will not notice much difference unless you are deep in the mountains or remote areas. A device capable of 850 MHz and 1900 MHz in 3G or 700 MHz (B12/13/17) and 1700 MHz (B4)/1900 MHz (B2) in 4G is essential.
Keep in mind that as of January 2018, Rogers has plans to shutter its 2G GSM network on December 31, 2020. For details see Rogers coverage map. Rogers Coverage Map
Availability and start-up
Rogers and Fido SIMs can be purchased online to be sent to a Canadian postal address, in their own shops and at many independent mobile retailers. Rogers Store Locator: here. Fido store locator: here
Corporate stores (and kiosks) for both Rogers and Fido do not charge for SIM cards when purchased in conjunction with any post-paid plan, but it'll be $10 for prepaid plan as confirmed by customer service.
Rogers and Fido moved to a new credit card processing system in 2011. As a result, you can no longer top-up your account with a foreign credit card. If you go to a Rogers or Fido store in Canada, you must use cash as the store credit card readers will not accept foreign credit cards as well. This only applies to corporate stores, however, so look for third-party dealers if you wish to use your credit card from home. Top up vouchers of $10, $20, $30, $40 and $100 are available. The vouchers $10-40 give a validity of 30 days, the $100 of 1 year. So you can't keep your SIM alive topping up from abroad. The only workaround solution to save the SIM is a Canadian prepaid VISA like the 3V-Voucher card available in stores to be combined with the SIM.
The mother company has mandatory prepaid plans without data on which data add-ons can be activated. The cheapest monthly plan is the “Talk&Text Plan” for $10 per month.
You can also choose monthly combo Talk, Text and Data plans:
- $ 50: 500 MB, 100 local mins, unlimited internatl. SMS
- $ 65: 1 GB, 150 local mins, unlimited internatl. SMS
You can add the following monthly packs to all base plans (the $10 plan too):
|Value||$ 10||$ 15||$ 20||$ 30||$ 50|
|Data||100 MB||250 MB||500 MB||1 GB||2 GB|
The add-ons can be activated online on your Rogers account or by calling 611 from your Rogers phone. The default data rate outside of packages is a choice you get before accessing data: $1 for 10 MB in 24 hours or $5 for 60 MB in 7 days. Overuse fee is $0.15 per MB.
The rates are slightly lower than Rogers. They offer
- cheapest monthly prepaid plan without data is $15 per month, called Talk and Text, and includes 75 domestic mins and 75 SMS per month.
- They offer three monthly plans with data- unlimited domestic voice and global SMS with 750 MB for $55, 1 GB for $60, or 2 GB for $70.
These different data packs can be added if you select a plan without data:
- 100 MB for a month : $ 10;
- 500 MB for a month: $ 20
- 1 GB for a month: $ 30
Overuse rate is $ 0.05 per MB on plans without data paired with a data pack, or $ 0.02 on plans with data included.
Chatr is another sub-brand of Rogers. They are offered in different stores (locator). Their SIM card is sold for $10. Having a foreign credit card, you can expect to use only their vouchers for recharges (see above). For reload points check the locator, but note that if you buy a voucher from a Chatr store, you may be charged a service fee of up to $3. As of February 2019, they no longer limit their plans to certain cities; all allowances are now valid nationwide.
On Chatr you have to activate a base plan. Data is only up to 3 Mbps on the 4G/LTE network.
- $ 25 for unlimited Canada-wide talk and internatl. text with 500 MB
- $ 35 for unlimited Canada-wide talk and internatl. text with 2 GB
- $ 40 for unlimited Canada-wide talk and internatl. text with 4.5 GB
- $ 50 for unlimited Canada-wide talk and internatl. text with 10 GB
- $ 55 for unlimited Canada/US talk and internatl. text with 10 GB
On these base plans (above), you can add this monthly data add-on a maximum of five times a month:
- $ 5: 500 MB at 3 Mbps
On these combo plans data will be throttled having reached volume limits. Plans without data have now been removed, as data add-ons are no longer allowed for those plans.
Additionally, if keeping the SIM for repeat visits, Chatr offers the option to pay daily instead of monthly starting with the following month. Send "ENROLL" to 4962, and you will be able to use the Day Pass rate below as long as you top up less than the full amount of the plan you have chosen:
- $ 3 for unlimited Canada-wide talk and internatl. text with 250 MB
- Tethering: a profile for the iPhone is only supplied with data packs of 1 GB or more.
- APN for Rogers: internet.com; Username: wapuser1; Password: wap
- APN for Fido: ltemobile.apn
- APN for Chatr: chatrweb.apn
- Websites: http://www.rogers.com http://www.fido.ca/ http://www.chatrwireless.com
Telus (Koodo / Public Mobile)
Telus and its sub-brands Koodo and Public Mobile have a GSM 3G and 4G network which is slightly better than Rogers. Their 3G/4G footprint is identical with Bell as they share the same towers. A device capable of 850 MHz and 1900 MHz in 3G or 700 MHz (B12/13/17) and 1700 MHz (B4)/1900 MHz (B2) in 4G is essential. For coverage map click on coverage.
Telus SIM is $20 and comes with $20 activation credit at Telus stores (store locator). Koodo is also $20 (store locator) and comes with $20 credit. Public Mobile is $10 and sold at Walmart and London Drugs.
With Telus, a prepaid plan is not necessary for service, meaning that you are able to use exclusively add-ons. Data add-ons are offered and should be used due to the fact that the default rate for data outside of plans or add-ons is $ 2 per MB. However, should you choose to get a plan, the following 30-day plans with data are offered:
|Starter 10||None||50 mins local||50 SMS||$ 10|
|Talk, Text, Data 35||1 GB||unlimited Canada-wide||unlimited||$ 35|
|Talk, Text, Data 45||3 GB||unlimited Canada-wide||unlimited||$ 45|
|Talk, Text, Data 55||4 GB||unlimited Canada-wide||unlimited||$ 55|
|Talk, Text, Data 65||6 GB||unlimited Canada-wide||unlimited||$ 65|
These 30-day add-ons for data are offered. They can be added to the base plan Starter 10 at $10 too:
- $ 10: 100 MB
- $ 20: 500 MB
- $ 30: 1 GB
Overuse is charged with $0.15 per MB within the month. Activation is done online or by calling *123.
Their sub-brand Koodo mobile sells prepaid SIM cards for $ 20. However, the high cost of the SIM card is offset by the $20 bonus automatically added to your account during activation. In addition, if you use a referral code when signing up, you can get an additional $10 bonus and 1 GB bonus data. Koodo's 30-day prepaid plans work through you choosing a "base plan" on top of which add-ons are added, giving you a choice on how much data and talk you need.
Add-ons can be added at any time and do not expire as long as you have a base plan. Six types of add-ons exist: domestic data, domestic call, domestic long-distance call (for plans with province-wide calling), US call, US text, and US data.
These base plans are currently offered:
(Provice or nationwide)
|250 MB||unlimited||$ 15|
|500 MB||500 mins (Province)||unlimited||$ 25|
|unlimited (nationwide)||unlimited||$ 35|
|1 GB||unlimited (nationwide)||unlimited||$ 45|
|5 GB||unlimited (nationwide)||unlimited||$ 50|
|7 GB||unlimited (nationwide)||unlimited||$ 65|
|10 GB||unlimited (nationwide)||unlimited||$ 75|
These are the add-ons available:
|100 MB||$ 10|
|500 MB||$ 20|
|1 GB||$ 30|
|50 MB||$ 5|
|500 MB||$ 20|
Occasionally, Koodo runs "double booster" promotions where one can purchase a booster and receive two for the price of one. This gives Koodo one of the lowest per-minute costs (2.5 cents per minute) for voice.
Telus allows recharges through credit card, but your credit card's billing address must be in a Canadian province. Koodo offer reloads through any international credit card (unlike Rogers). They also sell top-up cards through various retail outlets like supermarkets, gas stations or pharmacies. $10 gives 30 days of validity, $25 and $50 each 60 days and $100 one year. After that, the SIM is useless and the remaining credit will be lost.
Public mobile is their 3rd brand with a better pricing for lower tiers. You can get a SIM card from any Canadian Walmart store (locator), The Mobile Shop (locator), Wow! Mobile boutiques (store locator), or London Drugs for $10 (this fee is sometimes waived if the SIM is activated in store).
You do not need Canadian credit card to use their service: you can pay cash or any foreign credit card at store at time of activation. Different store chains have different payment voucher increments. Some have $10, $20 and some are missing $15 ones. If you can't fit your desired plan into one of those, then look for Real Canadian Superstore (where The Mobile Shop stores are generally located), which also carries $5 vouchers.
|None||3Mbps||$ 15||100 minutes Canada-wide, unlimited text|
|500 MB||3Mbps||$ 25||unlimited Canada talk, unlimited intern. text|
|1 GB||Unlimited||$ 30||Data only|
|1 GB||3Mbps||$ 35||unlimited Canada talk, unlimited intern. text|
|4.5 GB||3Mbps||$ 40||unlimited Canada talk, unlimited intern. text|
|8 GB||3Mbps||$ 50||unlimited US/Canada talk, unlimited intern. text|
You can get even more data however at that point there are other providers who may provide better value. The rates for all plans can be found here.
- APN for Telus with smartphones: sp.telus.com
- APN for Telus with modems and routers: isp.telus.com
- APN for Koodo: sp.koodo.com
- APN for Public Mobile: sp.mb.com
- Proxy for all brands: 22.214.171.124
- Website for Telus : http://www.telus.com
- Website for Koodo: http://www.koodomobile.com/
- Website for Public Mobile: http://www.publicmobile.ca
Bell (Virgin mobile, Lucky Mobile)
Bell's coverage is identical with Telus, due to their tower sharing agreements. A device capable of 850 MHz and 1900 MHz in 3G or 700 MHz (B12/13/17) and 1700 MHz (B4)/1900 MHz (B2) in 4G is essential. 4G/LTE is given out for prepaid: Bell Coverage Map
Availability and start-up
Bell is the only operator in Canada who gives out prepaid SIM cards focused on data to be used in tablets mainly. But they can be used in smartphones and modems as well. Prepaid SIM cards for data are sold in Bell shops (store locator) for $9.95 without credit. No ID necessary, they only ask for your name. They activate the SIM in store and give you your number that is assigned to that SIM.
Voice and Data Prepaid Plans
Bell now has a few monthly prepaid plans with data included:
- 250 MB, 250 local minutes, unlimited global text: $ 30
- 1 GB, unlimited nationwide minutes, unlimited global text: $ 45
- 4 GB, unlimited nationwide minutes, unlimited global text: $ 55
- 6 GB, unlimited nationwide minutes, unlimited global text: $ 65
Data feature packs
These data add-ons for the voice and data plan, you activate online in store or later after having recharged. The cheapest base option is at $ 5 with 10 mins included. They are the only option, that don't have to be locked to a (Canadian) credit card. You can use Bells refill vouchers instead. The plans renew automatically, if there is credit. To stop, you must call customer service or cancel it online. Overuse is charged at $0.15 per MB.
- daily pass - 20 MB: $ 2 in 24 hours, overuse: you will be asked to buy a new plan or cut off
- 100 MB: $ 10
- 500 MB: $ 20
- 1 GB: $ 30
- 2 GB: $ 50
You can recharge your SIM with a (mostly Canadian) credit card. Otherwise, you can buy refill cards in many stores like supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies. $15 give 30 days validity, $25 and $50 give 60 days and $100 a year. After that, your account will be closed, the SIM deactivated and the credit is lost.
- all data-add ons include tethering
- APN: pda.bell.ca
- Proxy: web.wireless.bell.ca
- Website: http://www.bell.ca/Mobility/Cell_phone_plans/Prepaid_plans
Virgin Mobile in Canada is a MVNO owned by Bell.
The only prepaid plan without a base rate is the by-the-minute plan. Default rate for data is $1 for 10 MB in 24 hours on 3G.
Top-up cards are available in the Virgin stores and lots of pharmacies and supermarket. $15 gives 30 days of validity, $25 and $50 give 60 days and $100 one year. After that account and SIM will be discontinued and credit lost.
They also offer plans with talk and text and nationwide data for 30 days:
- 250 MB + pay by use mins: $ 15
- 500 MB + pay by use mins: $ 25
- 1 GB + unlimited nationwide talk and text: $ 45
- 5 GB + unlimited nationwide talk and text: $ 50
- 7 GB + unlimited nationwide talk and text:: $ 65
- 10 GB + unlimited Province-wide talk and text:: $ 75
Overuse is at 5c per MB.
- APN: inet.bell.ca
- Proxy: web.wireless.bell.ca
- Website: http://www.virginmobile.ca
Lucky Mobile is a new prepaid sub-brand of Bell Mobility launched in December 2017. It's a no-frills operator considered to be "low-cost" by Canadian standards and uses the Bell network in 3G and 4G/LTE limited to "3G speeds" of 3 Mbit/s. Going forward, Lucky Mobile will introduce an app that enables talk and text over WiFi in 2018.
Lucky Mobile was initially available to consumers in the provinces of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, in 2018 extended to Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The service was extended in summer 2018 to Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador. So in most major cities across the country in stores like Walmart, Wireless Wave, TBooth wireless, Wireless etc., Cellular Point, Visions Electronics and select The Source locations (store locator) it can now be found. SIM cards are sold for $10 except at Dollarama stores, where it is sold for $4. eSIM activation can be performed without a SIM card charge by calling 1-833-885-8259 on an existing phone.
All plans are prepaid and require top-ups. You can link them to a credit card by auto-pay which gives a 250MB - 500MB data bonus per month, but only US- or Canadian cards are accepted. For manual top-ups all international credit, but not debit cards will do. Finally, they also sell top-up cards starting at $15 in many locations. Check balance by *58259.
Lucky Mobile’s plans are now all nation-wide; zone plans are no longer being sold to new customers.
With a Canada Plan you can use data nationwide on Bell's network. Here you need to choose a base plan for talk and text and an additional add-on for data. These plans are offered for 30 days:
- $ 15: 500 MB data only
- $ 15: 100 nationwide calling minutes and unlimited nationwide and internatl. texting with 0MB
- $ 25: unlimited nationwide calling and nationwide and internatl. texting with 500 MB
- $ 35: unlimited nationwide calling and nationwide and internatl. texting with 1 GB
- $ 40: unlimited nationwide calling and nationwide and internatl. textng with 4.5 GB
- $ 45: unlimited nationwide calling and nationwide and internatl. textng with 6 GB
- $ 50: unlimited Canada and US calling, nationwide and internatl. texting with 8 GB
These add-ons can be added for more data:
- $ 10: 500 MB nationwide data
- $ 15: 1 GB nationwide data
- $ 25: 2 GB nationwide data
Data will be up to 3 Mbps. If you go over your monthly data quota, speed is reduced to up to 128 kbps. You can continue using data at these reduced speeds or you can purchase more data with a Data Add-on at the above prices (except the $ 15 data-only plan, which can only add Service Passes for $3 or $ 5).
- no international roaming is offered
- APN: connect
- Website: http://www.luckymobile.ca
Freedom Mobile (formerly WIND)
Freedom Mobile is the 4th carrier in the country, but has very limited home network coverage, as they use their own infrastructure and have yet to expand outside of urban areas in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. In 2016 it was taken over by Shaw Communications and rebranded from Wind to Freedom Mobile.
Freedom Mobile has 3G on 1700 MHz (AWS-1, band 4) reaching 44% of the population, 4G on 1700 MHz (B66, B4) and 700 MHz (B13) throughout their network with 2600 MHz (B7) in downtown city centres. It's very unlikely that a device from Europe/Asia will fully work on their network other than limited band 7 support. On this coverage map the Freedom Mobile network is in a dark shade of orange. Yellow refers to national roaming coverage, and light orange refers to places where you may or may not get Freedom Mobile signal. They have a phone checker by IMEI no. to see, if your phone works.
Their network upgrades have improved network quality and enabled additional features including VoLTE and Wi-Fi Calling. VoLTE and Wi-Fi Calling support includes the Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ and the LG V30/Q6/Q Stylo+/X Power 3, having initially supported by LG G6/G7 phones, Samsung Galaxy S8/S8 Plus/A8 devices, and Apple iPhones (6 series or newer).
Don't be surprised to see speeds under 1 Mbit/s with extremely high latency of some hundred ms. However, if volume of data is more important, then Freedom Mobile is still one of most affordable options in Canada. In 2019 it covered 43% of population mostly in the metro areas.
Otherwise, Freedom Mobile can only be recommended in certain circumstances, such as when you have a compatible device and stay within their home coverage areas, or for low usage with the new nationwide plan. With recent ownership change, their pricing is approaching MVNOs like Public Mobile; which operate on more widely compatible bands with somewhat better speeds.
The SIM card is available for $10 in their stores (store locator), where you can buy refills as well.
Freedom Mobile owns their own network which, at the moment, is only present in major cities. Anything outside, you are paying extra for usage. Some of their expensive plans, as well as their new $24 and $34 prepaid plans, include "Canadian Roaming" minutes or data.
Voice & data plan
They are now only offering LTE inclusive plans. Rates are somewhat better than the big three, but keep network compatibility in mind:
- $ 55: 10 GB home data, unlimited text, 500 MB roaming data
- $ 70: 15 GB home data, unlimited text, 1 GB roaming data
- $ 90: 20 GB home data, unlimited text, 2 GB roaming data
Home data applies only when you are using their towers inside major cities. Your phone will say "Freedom" as the network during this time. If you go outside, you will be paying $0.05/MB outside of your included allowance. Your phone will say "Nationwide" as the network when roaming domestically. Within the Freedom network, no overage fee is charged once the allowance is exceeded, but speed will be throttled to 256/128 kbps.
For more data you can add 1 GB for 30 days in their home network at $10 or roaming network at $30.
Only valid when using their limited home network they offer these monthly plans:
- 250 MB home data, 100 domestic mins, unlimited SMS to Canada and US: $ 20
- 500 MB home data, unlimited domestic mins, unlimited SMS to Canada and US: $ 30
- 1 GB home data, unlimited global SMS: $ 30
- 2 GB home data, unlimited domestic mins, unlimited global SMS: $ 45
On the last plan there is currently a promotion doubling the data offered to 4 GB for $ 45 if you activate at a Freedom Mobile store.
Nationwide (Prepaid Canada-wide)
Freedom has also launched a new prepaid plan that has one data allowance applicable to both home network and national roaming on the other providers.
- 1.5 GB home and roaming data, unlimited domestic mins, unlimited global SMS: $24
- 3 GB home and roaming data, unlimited domestic mins, unlimited global SMS: $34
This is more cost-effective than the Home plans listed above. Note that you may see these plans advertised at lower prices, but those are inclusive of a "digital discount" that requires linking a credit card for automatic top-up. The prices shown here are inclusive of a promotion available to all new customers discounting the plan price by $5 a month for the first 12 months.
- APN for smartphones: internet.freedommobile.ca
- APN for modems and routers: broadband.freedommobile.ca
- Website: http://www.freedommobile.ca
7-Eleven Speak out and Petro Canada Mobility
These two MVNOs operate on the Rogers network in 2G and 3G (see Basics and Rogers for details). They are most recommend, if you just need talk and some texting, but few data.
7-Eleven SIM cards are available in 7-Eleven stores and online. The stores can be found only in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan (store locator), not in Quebec for instance, though the SIMs operate nationwide. They are sold for $10 and available in standard and micro SIM sizes. Check which one you get some stores have old stock that are either size, or newer combo style.
The Petro Canada SIM is available in all participating gas stations of the biggest chain in the country nationwide for $10 start-up price.
The big advantage of this 7/11 card is that a recharge of only $25 keeps it alive for one year. Recharge coupons can be bought at 7-Eleven stores and online. The top-up can be applied online or over the phone. This is the only prepaid plan in Canada that gives you 1 year validity for only $25 and is ideal for long term voice usage (ie: you only call 10 minutes a month and need it for 6 months)
Recharges on Petro Canada are valid $15 for 30 days, $25, $30 and $40 for 120 days, $50 for 180 days and $100 for a year. Refill cards at the gas stations.
They have two data packs to be added to their pay-as-you-go rate:
- $ 30: 2 GB
- $ 10: 100 MB
To add a data add-on, you must have an airtime balance greater than $2+, and your account must not expire within the next 30 days. Data usage outside packages will be charged at $0.10 per MB. Packs renew every month. To start or stop log online to your account or call customer service at 611.
Petro Canada plans
At Petro Canada Mobility you get a base plan for $15 with 25 local minutes. This plan can be added by the following monthly data packs:
- 100 MB: $ 10
- 500 MB: $ 15
- 1 GB: $ 25
- 2 GB: $ 35
- 3 GB: $ 45
Plans and data add-ons can be managed (booked and cancelled) on your online account. Data add-on must be added at the time of plan selection. Default rate outside plans is $0.15 per MB.
PhoneBox is a Canadian MVNO on Rogers network in Canada. It was created in 2011 in Vancouver and added stores in other cities.
Start-up and availability
With PhoneBox you can obtain a SIM card (nano, micro or regular) for $10 and bring your own device, rent a device or buy a new device in one of their stores (store locator). You just have to bring your valid ID and a credit card, both of which do not have to be Canadian issued. There is a store in Vancouver and one in Toronto for in-person assistance, but they will deliver to any worldwide address without surcharges.
PhoneBox's current prepaid plans are listed below. All of these plans include unlimited Canada-wide calls and texting. These plans include data in 4G/LTE and unlimited voice and text in Canada plus a data pack:
- $ 40: 3 GB
- $ 45: 5 GB
- $ 60: 8 GB
- $ 75: 10 GB
Top-up data is at $15 per 1 GB.
- Website: http://gophonebox.com/
Foreign SIM cards roaming in Canada
Canada has the highest prices for data on the North American continent right now. This makes it quite expensive to buy a local SIM card for a short visit. Alternatively, you may think of bringing a SIM for roaming from the US, Mexico or overseas. Compare their rates with local Canadian rates given above.
Roaming SIM cards from US providers
If you are coming or travelling north from the USA, it may be more efficient to use your US home plan or buy a US prepaid plan to be used north of the border. Many US contracts include data, minutes and texts in Canada now, so check it out.
There are a few prepaid plans by US carriers that include heavily reduced Canadian data, voice and texts debited on the domestic US allowance (given $ prices are in US$):
- T-Mobile's "Mobile Without Borders": Simply Prepaid: Canada coverage with a $5 add-on to the plans: $45+5 for 4 GB, $55+5 for 6 GB and $75+5 for 30 GB. After the 4G/LTE data allotment is used up or 5 GB are reached, unlimited throttled data is provided.
- Cricket Wireless: $40 for 5 GB and $60 for unlimited, debited as domestic data
- AT&T: $50 Prepaid plan for 8 GB, $65 for unlimited with video throttled to 1.5Mbps, $85 for true unlimited, debited as domestic data, with data roll-over
- MetroPCS: with a $5 per month add-on charged as domestic data: $40+5 for 5 GB and $50+5 for unlimited data up to 5 GB in Canada
Most roaming plans given out by US providers in Canada are restricted by their Terms of Service (TOS). You have to give a US home address and should have more than 50% domestic usage. So it can't be used for permanent roaming. However, the period of time used by the US provider varies. For example, T-Mobile measures time and usage over a 90-day period to decide when to cut off for excessive int'l usage, so if you stay in Canada for less than that or you used a lot of data in the US before going to Canada, you should be fine. If you are concerned, go with AT&T; they do not restrict Canada usage in any way on their prepaid plans as long as you initially activate service in the US.
Roaming SIM cards from Latin American providers
Some prepaid plans of the Mexican network providers now include roaming data in the US and Canada too without surcharges. Thus, the lowest rates can be obtained for now using a Mexican SIM card on roaming in Canada. For more details about the plans, check the Mexico article:
- Telcel: all Amigo data packages of 400 MB or more and all combined combo packs of Amigo sin limite include data (combo: plus talk and texts) in Canada and the US without surcharges at Mexican rates.
- Movistar: combo packages of the ilimitado prepaid plan contain for MX$ 200 1.5 GB and for MX$ 300 2 GB to be used on roaming without surcharge plus unlimited calling and texting in Canada and the US.
To some Movistar networks in Central America (Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama and Costa Rica) roaming in Canada can be added for around $5 per day in their sin fronteras program.
Roaming SIM cards from overseas providers
- Robi Bangladesh: Applicable for roaming in Canada and 76 other countries.
- Roaming Cost:
- BDT 99 (US$ 1.56) per day or
- BDT 599 (USD 9.39) per week or
- BDT 2,599 (US$40.76) per month.
- Each of these packages give you unlimited data. 3G speed capped at 1GB/day. Then 2G afterwards.
- For details please see Robi Bangladesh
- Roaming Cost:
- Kyivstar Ukraine: Roaming at UAH 35 (CA$ 1.75) for every 100 MB per day, for more see Ukraine
- Lifecell Ukraine: Roaming at UAH 30 (CA$ 1.50) for every 100 MB per day up to 1 GB for 30 days at UAH 500 (CA$ 25), for more see Ukraine chapter
- Free Mobile France: 25 GB 4G data, unlimited calls and SMS included in their €19.99 plans (+ €10 SIM fee), for more see France chapter. This SIM card is only sold in France.
- Three Hong Kong: International Roaming Mobile Data Prepaid SIM for HK$ 280-328 (around CA$ 50) giving unlimited 2G/3G data on Rogers for 14 days, for more see Hong Kong chapter. Alternatively, if you have a phone that supports eSIM like the iPhone XS, their new International Roaming eSIM is at HK$138 (around CA$ 24) and offers 10 days of "unlimited" 2G/3G/LTE on Rogers with a FUP is 500 MB per calendar day based on Hong Kong time (which translates to the FUP allowance resetting between 8:00 AM and 12:30 PM depending on where you are in Canada). Overuse in a given day is throttled to 128kbps. Unlike the physical SIM, the eSIM can be purchased from anywhere in the world directly from 3 with a Visa/MasterCard/American Express credit card from anywhere and activated on arrival in Canada (you type in your current mobile phone number and email, receive a one-time code to your e-mail, confirm the code and pay, and then receive an email with the activation QR code to scan).
- AIR SIM: 3G and 4G data from 1 GB in 2 days at HK$ 118 to 3 GB in 15 days at HK$ 268. More info in our international chapter.
- Ivitta Mobile 2.0: 1 GB for US$ 15 for 10 days. Order SIMs and buy topups online, shipped to anywhere in the world. Check FAQ on http://ivittamobile2.com/
- StarHub Mobile Singapore: the Happy Roam Mobile Prepaid SIM has multiple data plans that you can purchase as needed: e.g. SGD 7 for 1 GB data/7 days, SGD 20 for 3.6 GB data/30 days, for details check Singapore