Mobilicity Year-In Review [Toronto]

Mobilicity is one of the new telecom entrants that actualized following Canada’s 2008 AWS spectrum auction. They currently operate in 5 central cities across Canada; Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, Ottawa, and just recently Calgary. Mobilicity’s main goal is to provide simple yet affordable cell phone and internet services to Canadians. As a Mobilicity customer for 10 months in Toronto, I thought I’d post a review of my experience with the newcomer. I will try not to base the review on my location (Toronto) but keep in mind that much of my experience will be from the city I live in. Continue reading for the review.

Value:

As the Mobilicity name partially implies, Mobilicity is about mobile simplicity. Mobilicity has three distinct voice and text plans ranging from $25 to $45 featuring various features such as province-wide or nation-wide talking and even global text messaging. Customers can also add unlimited data for a jaw-dropping $10. They also offer a mobile data plan, one of the only companies keeping simplicity in mind, priced at $40 but can be purchased for $20 if bundled with a voice and text plan. In addition, Mobilicity offers specific discounts if the customer prepays for 3, 6, 9, or 12 months of service. Many potential customers may ask the very common question: How many daytime minutes are available? or What time does the free evenings and weekends start. However with Mobilicity, all plans, regardless of voice, text, or data, are all unlimited. There is no need to check if the time is 6PM or if the person you’re calling is in your My5, the feeling that there are no limits is calming.

During my time as a customer with the Big 3, I was spending $25/month for 250 daytime minutes, unlimited calling on weekdays after 6PM and all day on weekends, Caller ID, and text messaging. Granted the rate I had with the Big 3 was discounted with the help of various retentions personnel. Even trying to keep a ‘feature’ like Caller ID, which is essentially stripped off the actual networks that have this service already built-in, was more of a hassle than anyone would think.. However when another carrier offers unlimited talk and text for the same price, you begin to question how ‘great’ of a rate you actually have.

To me and to many consumers, its not just about having unlimited service, it is the peace of mind that no customer should be subject to “cell phone shock” as Mobilicity says. To solidify the notion of no “cell phone shock”, Mobilicity has implemented an ingenious “myWallet” feature allowing customers to deposit customer-specified funds for potential extra expenses that could be incurred. These extra expenses include long-distance charges, roaming fees, and even media purchases such as ringtones. In essence, a customer can only “spend” as much as they have deposited in their Wallet for these potential expenses.

Coverage:

The coverage in Toronto provides service to a large majority of residents throughout the city, from Brampton to Mississauga all the way to Vaughan and certain areas of Pickering. For many regular residents and even commuters, the service covers all or a large portion of our daily destinations. From my experience, I haven’t experienced a dead spot outdoors within the coverage zone during my travels (indoor reception will be discussed in the next section). However I have overheard others speak of certain dead spots between some intersections in the Mississauga area. One thing to note is that Mobilicity has stressed countless times that, unfortunately, there are no plans to expand the current home zones on a larger scale (I’ve heard Oakville may be included in the near future).

One of the strengths the new entrants have is that all your unlimited features will be accessible when the user is within a Mobilicity Home Zone, be it in Toronto or Vancouver, or even in Calgary. This feature is a step in the right direction and maybe one day Canadian’s can experience nationwide coverage without national long distance or roaming fees.

Reception and Network:

Coming from a well established Telus CDMA network (at the time), Mobilicity’s reception has exceeded my expectations when compared to the reception I received on Telus CDMA network. Sure Telus’ CDMA network has great coverage as it stands, but in certain areas I may be at no bars, I would see almost a 50% improvement on Mobilicity’s network. Outdoor reception has been great to perfect throughout my commute within my Home Zone in Toronto. Indoor reception fluctuates from perfect to low and even sometimes no service. This result is not unknown to AWS providers because the AWS spectrum is at a much higher frequency (1700, 2100 Bands) compared to the Big 3′s 3G network (850, 1900 Bands). The higher the frequency, the less it can penetrate through different types of barriers. The only way to solve this issue is by installing repeaters in known low signal area’s and building more towers. Mobilicity has reassured customers that they will focus on greater density within the Home Zones this year and adding many new towers by the end of the summer. No network is perfect, especially one as young as Mobilicity’s. In the past they have faced MMS resizing issues and delayed text messages which have been relatively minimized or nearly eliminated. However other than these freak occurrences, the network has been solid.

Call Quality and Data Speeds:

For the ten or so months that I’ve used Mobilicity, call quality has been crystal clear with no disruptive effects such as any half-duplex issues (cutting out when two people speak simultaneously). Call quality can be compared to the quality experienced on land-lines and this is no exaggeration. Data speeds have been consistently around 2.0Mb download and 0.6Mb upload. These speeds are adequate enough for almost all mobile activities including video streaming and internet radio. Keep in mind, Mobilicity does limit download speeds to 3.5Mbps with plans to eventually upgrade the network to HSPA+, dissolving the in-place limit. Also, Mobilicity does throttle certain video streaming web sites and P2P file-sharing.  Although most users do not experience the throttle, this action is more noticed when tethering since users are more likely to stream videos on their computer.

Devices:

Mobilicity is one of the only new entrants that has been able to secure deals to provide a large amount of consumer-friendly phones and devices. Devices like the highly acclaimed Nexus One, Nexus S and just recently the HTC Panache. Thankfully, Mobilicity has also confirmed that they will no longer be supporting Huawei phones, which as consumers know, have been abysmal at best (in North America). However, this is not to say that Mobilicity hasn’t sold its fair share of problematic devices, most notably the Mobiflip. Over the past year, Mobilicity has equipped their arsenal with higher-quality Android phones which is exactly what consumers want. Mobilicity needs to increase their line-up with new dual-core devices such as the LG Revolution, HTC Sensation, and also might want to carry at least one Windows Phone 7 phone like HTC’s  HD7 or Trophy. On a final note Mobilicity could benefit from having a few mid-range priced phones for consumers that don’t necessarily want to shell out $500 but don’t want a “cheap” device too. In order to capture the desires of consumers, a company must offer different choices to satisfy their every need.

Customer Service:

Thankfully I haven’t had the need to call customer service more than a few occasions. So I can only comment on those rare circumstances. When I called customer service, I was always greeted happily by the representative and had any questions or issues resolved truthfully (which is actually a great feeling) and thoroughly. I don’t want to sound like I am a Mobilicity fanboy, but their customer service does go beyond what we are usually a custom to.

Imagine a CEO of a cellular provider deeply involved in helping and interacting with customers through modern and social ways. I’m sure I left you stumped. Dave Dobbin, Mobilicity’s CEO, actively communicates through personal twitter, email, and even in person at Mobilicity events. Many assume that; sure you can email him, but I bet he doesn’t respond. Let me tell you, he does, while also keeping his responses straightforward and honest. Recently there was a very brief outage here in Toronto and nearly a minute after I sent a tweet, Dave responded by stating they conducted a quick network refresh. As I said, that’s customer service!

Closing Note:

While Mobilicity is still slowly maturing as a whole, the vision of freeing Canadian’s from mobile restrictions (without overages) is a breath of fresh air in the mobile market.

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About Hagop Barounian

I have many interests in the field of entertainment and technology, I enjoy discussions about my interests and always enjoy the criticism. I have a strong opinion of the topics I discuss, so please feel free to comment about any of your concerns and opinions on my blog @ www.techfibe.com.
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4 Responses to Mobilicity Year-In Review [Toronto]

  1. Jun says:

    Thanks for the great review! Im not a heavy voice, text, or data user, but when I do use it with my current provider, the charges rack up fast (on pre-paid)! I don’t use data with my pre-paid service because of the high charges, but I am a fb, twittetr, youtube watcher in general, so the mobilicity data plan really appeals to me. Have you got any unexpected large sums of charges over the time you have been with mobilicity or is it REALLY unlimited data when they say that? Thanks

    • Hey Jun,
      I’ve ranked up a couple thousand minutes of talk and many GB of data in a given month without any extra charges other than my monthly fee. Mobilicity’s service is truly unlimited from my experience.
      For FB, Twitter, and Youtube, Mobilicity’s data is perfectly fine.

      I remember my days on prepaid where I checked my balance everyday. Then I switched to one of the Big 3 then moved to Mobilicity and have been happy. For me, just because my service is unlimited doesn’t mean I abuse it, its about the piece of mind that you will not have to count how many texts you sent or wait till your evenings start to have a proper conversation,….

      Hagop B.

  2. CC says:

    I am using Mobilicity, and the network is very unstable. I live 2km away from the edge of the coverage zone, and i get 1 bar to “cannot detect any usable network”. Internet speed is capped at 80kb/s or lower, even GPRS is faster than it.

    I travel downtown very frequently, and I get ZERO reception indoor while my colleagues get full reception with fido/rogers.

    This review is extremely biased. It sounded as if you work for the company.

    • Living at the fringe of a coverage zone always possesses the challenge of having full bars of reception.

      Internet is definitely not capped at 80Kbps since I routinely achieve 1.5-2Mbps down and 0.6Mbps up and even downtown Toronto I managed to pull around 0.9Mbps down and 0.4Mbps up. The low data speeds maybe because your in the edge of the coverage zone and always on 1 bar of service.

      For indoor reception being low, if you read the review you would know that I mention that indoor reception can vary from full bars to no service very frequently. Nowhere did I hide that part since I agree indoor reception can be a problem sometimes.

      I personally have no big issues with Mobilicity since the service works for me, but as we can see it doesn’t for you so I do recommend giving atleast Wind Mobile a try since their coverage is larger and they do have the $29/month Super Smart plan on right now. With anyone buying a product or service, if the product or service doesn’t serve your needs why pay for it.

      Hagop B.

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