Cellphone providers in Canada

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Lay of the land

Canada has three major cellphone providers, a.k.a “The Big Three” - Bell, Telus and Rogers.

Bell and Telus have higher coverage by area and population than Rogers. They claim to cover 99% of the population and 30%+ land area while Rogers claims to cover 97% of the population and 20%+ land area. The key here is to focus on the population coverage and the connectivity between the rural places that you care about. Land coverage is not a great metric to compare.

Bell and Telus share same cellphone tower infrastructure in most of the country so their coverage is largely the same outside the metropolitan areas. Rogers has a slight lead in 5G network and internet speeds.

Outside of the “Big Three” there are several smaller providers, similar to U.S. but they’re all essentially either MVNOs or resellers. Each major provider also sell under their MVNO brand.

Telus: Koodo

Bell: Virgin Mobile

Rogers: Fido, Cityphone

Lastly, there are resellers, which are not owned by the major giants but essentially buy capacity on their network in bulk and sell it as a service to customers. Following are some of them.

Telus: Public Mobile

Bell: Virgin Mobile

Rogers: Chatr

How to pick the right provider for you?

Cellphone plans in Canada are on the higher side, in fact, one of the highest in the world. So cost will most certainly play a factor in deciding which provider to pick. Another factor you might care about is coverage, both in your city and the when you’re on the road. Lastly, internet speed, both in terms of coverage and consistency since this varies carrier to carrier.

Based on my research, I found Rogers to be a good mix of the three criteria above but even that is pretty expensive at close to $180+ for two lines. Fido seems like a good balance, which essentially is Rogers and uses the same network. Similar Fido plan costs around $120+.

Be sure to do your research for what works best among these options for you.