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.
Much has changed since the writing of this review, the opinions in this article may not reflect Mobilicity in it’s current state.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.