Technology Corner by Paul Roy

In the market for a new cell phone and/or cell phone plan? Here’s a few tips to help navigate these often murky waters.

  1. Purchasing a phone on a 2-year contract may net you a 50-100% reduction in up front phone cost, but beware that, to obtain this phone cost reduction, your monthly plan cost may be changed to a more expensive “in market” plan.
  2. Bringing your own new, or older device (BYOD) will typically result in a lower monthly plan price.
  3. Many plans offer “Canada Wide Calling” with no additional charges for long distance calls. “Local Calling” plans have cheaper base rates, but you’ll be charged extra for each long-distance call.
  4. The “Data” component of your plan will vary in price depending on how much data is included. Typical plans offer 1, 2, 5, or 10 gigabytes of data per month.
  5. How much data do you need? The major carriers have mobile data usage calculators available on their websites to help you estimate usage. Check those out before locking in.
  6. Bundling mobile plans with other services such as home internet or TV can result in additional plan savings.
  7. Most carriers have the option to purchase your new phone outright with no impact to your current monthly plan price. Just move your sim card from your old phone to your new one after setup and you’re “good to go”.
  8. “Local Calling” plans usually have an allotment of local calling minutes along with unlimited minute time frames (i.e. evenings / weekends).
  9. When moving from one carrier to another, you will have the opportunity to “port” your current number to the new carrier. To move your phone to a new carrier you may have to “unlock” it from the previous carrier.
  10. To accomplish this, you’ll need to call the old carrier to unlock your phone. Note that, after a CRTC decision last year, carriers cannot charge a fee for unlocking.
  11. Unlimited text messages are included in most plans, but the data content of those messages will be charged against your data allotment (keep this in mind when texting pictures).
  12. Most plans do not include a roaming component. Be sure to check the rules of the road for roaming outside your usage area to avoid unexpected charges.