It’s been 13 years since I purchased my first mobile phone. Since that day, I’ve bounced between the 3 major carriers in Canada depending on who had the best deal, service, or even if a certain device in stock. Carrier loyalty is basically non existent now that the new mobility laws have been set in place as of June 2015. For those who are unaware, Canada ranks incredibly low in pre-paid monthly mobile plan rates. We pay some of the highest amounts compared to anywhere else in the world and receive the least in return. The monopoly, held by the big three carriers (Rogers, Telus, and Bell), have remained unchallenged for the better part of 20 years…until now.
Wind Mobile first launched in December of 2009 in the Greater Toronto Area and Calgary, Alberta shortly after. Their basic principal was offering unlimited everything for a small cost. While this seemed like a miracle, there was one large limitation. Their service was restricted to specific “Wind Zones” within heavily populated areas. While it has improved, this limitation is still a downside for many in rural areas.
I’ve been fortunate enough to ride out corporate discounts for around 5-6 years through various employment positions I’ve had. This allowed me to upgrade my iPhone every year and either make a profit or simply break even in doing so. I also had 50% off my mobile plans regardless of which carrier I was with. Due to this perk, I never explored other options. My corporate discount finally ended as of late last year, and I was forced to either pay the consumer rates or find another solution. I lowered my data to 1GB yet was still paying roughly $95 a month with Bell. If you have an iPhone 6/6 Plus or better, or a newer large screen Android device, you’re well aware that 1GB does not last long. Even working from home during the summer months and primarily being on Wi-Fi, I was still limiting my use and constantly monitoring my usage.
Over the last couple years, I’ve been starting to take frequent trips to the US for business events and leisure. Rogers recently released their “Roam like Home” feature for $5 a day that allows the consumer to continue using their plan while in the US as if they were at home. I had already switched off Rogers to Bell before this was released and left with Bell’s archaic roaming packages. I would always switch my phone to airplane mode for the entire duration of the trip because of this in fear of enormous roaming charges. Since the trips will continue and possibly get more frequent, I realized something had to change.
Looking over Wind’s packages, I noticed that they included US roaming. They offer the normal unlimited options and then pay per use rates for the smaller plans when outside of a Wind Zone. These plans could suit all your needs if you live in a highly populated area and do not travel much. Looking over the coverage map, you can easily see the pockets where you’d be outside the Zone (referred to as “Wind Away”). A new promotional plan has been released as of May 2016 that now covers the Away Zone. From the corners of Canada and even the US, whether you’re in Halifax, Vegas, Vancouver, or Florida, it’s all covered under the Away portion of the plan. At $60 per month it offers 10GB full-speed data within the Wind Zone and 1GB full-speed data anywhere while in Wind Away. Full-speed data is 4G (or HSPA+). Any data usage above the included caps becomes throttled to 3G speeds. While the plans are technically unlimited, they have a fair usage policy to make sure that everyone on their network has equal speeds.
My experience within the last week has been great, and not having to worry about being within a Wind Zone is very comforting. The only issue I’ve had so far has been iOS related with activating iMessage. I decided to split this article into two parts due to the length of this post. For those who plan to switch to Wind Mobile with an iOS device, check out Part 2 here. It covers everything you need to know about activating iMessage.