Ready to learn about the nity-grity of Public Mobile? Should you consider switching? Here's everything you need to know!
My Public Mobile Story:
Cellphones: a necessary evil. Do you ever look at your cellphone bill and wonder, “Why it is so high?” This blog post could be the most important thing you read this year.
So first, a little backstory.
I was on Telus and had been for years. They had me and my wife hooked on a “grandfathered” business-only plan that was no longer offered. We were paying about $287 per month! And that's with no data overages.
Even on that expensive Telus plan, we still had to be careful about data, as we sometimes went over the data limit. Telus, like all the major cell phone carriers, has harsh penalties for going over-limit on your data plan.
Even though we were calling US numbers less and less (Hello Zoom!) we were afraid to leave the plan, because we could never get that US-long distance place back if we left.
Now, truth be told, it was a little annoying that I couldn’t call Public Mobile and ask a rep some specific questions about porting my number – which was important to me. But eventually the desire to save a lot of money each month prompted me to give it a go.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit that it took us about 4 months of hemming and hawing before actually making the switch.
The switch was painless and quick.
So what is Public Mobile?
Public Mobile is a low-cost SIM-only service provider.
In my opinion, Public Mobile is the best, lowest-cost self-serve cell phone platform in Canada.
Essentially, they are a discount prepaid-only carrier that runs on the Telus network. (Public Mobile was bought out by Telus in 2013; originally they had been an independent carrier.)
The Telus high-speed 4G-LTE network provides extensive coverage, but every cell phone plan from Public Mobile is limited to “3G speed” data, but honestly, I have not noticed a difference. Since all the plans are set to 3G speed, you can turn off LTE on your phone.
The nice thing about it being a pre-paid plan is that you won't have a surprise by going over your talk or data limit. This is also a good thing to keep in mind if you have a teenager or somebody who doesn't pay attention to the data limits on their plan.
My biggest hurdle had always been that I was skeptical about the quality of the service and the coverage. If it's so much less, there must be some sort of nasty catch, right?
But the truth is that Public Mobile, being a self-serve department of Telus, has exactly the same quality of coverage.
Public Mobile Network Coverage
Telus uses the Bell Towers across Canada, so the coverage is just as good as Bell or Telus. This is important, because I live in a slightly rural area, and I have a cottage that is well-hidden from the world on a very private lake without motorized boats.
It's remote and beautiful.
And one of the main concerns was I wanted to verify that we had coverage there – which we should have because we had coverage with Telus. We have had visitors to our cottage who are on Rogers and they had really spotty coverage there. Anyway, we actually activated a test phone just to verify it worked and it did.
That gave up the go ahead to leave our plan at Telus after over a decade and switch to Public Mobile.
Is there an activation fee?
There is no activation fee with Public Mobile.
I get notifications when I get a referral, make a payment, or hit 75% of my data threshold. So that gives me plenty of time to adjust.
Here's what I see when I make a new referral to Public Mobile and reduce my bill:
If you want to sign up for Public Mobile, use my link and you'll get $10 off your first month.
IMPORTANT: Make note of this referral code when signing up to activate that bonus: WX60K0
You will need to enter it in step 4 (payment section) of the activation PublicMobile signup page to get your discount.
Can I Port/Use My Current Phone With Public Mobile?
Yes, you can just use your current number. There is no charge for using your current number, and the process is very simple.
In fact, you need to bring your own phone to Public Mobile. There are no contracts, so you can leave at any time. So use your current phone, and if you want an upgrade, buy a new phone straight out. Easy (and cheaper in the long run.)
My wife and I ported our numbers no problem.
How do I switch to Public Mobile?
You do need a new Public Mobile SIM card. These cost $10 at Walmart in the electronic department. You need to ask at the counter. They are one-size (3-in-1) SIM cards with a detachable part to fit all SIM card trays. (Sounds weird, but it's easy.)
If you have an unlocked phone already, getting started is as simple as buying a SIM, activating it, and inserting it into your phone. You will be prompted to do this as you complete the signup process.
If you don't have a SIM card tool, you can use a pin to pop out the SIM card tray.
Everything else is done online and in the peace of your own home.
How To Sign Up For Public Mobile & Port Your Current Number From Another Cell Phone Company
I have a video demonstrating how this works:
Public Mobile Plans:
Every cell phone plan with Public Mobile includes nationwide long distance, unlimited texting internationally, voicemail and caller ID. They are charged on a 30-day billing cycle.
Here are the current Public Mobile plans:
The plans are straightforward with no hidden gotchas. For example, even the lowest priced plan allows international texting and picture messages.
Voicemail, Call Display, Call Waiting, Call Forwarding and Conference Calling are included in all Unlimited Talk plans from Public Mobile.
Incoming from anywhere on the planet (when you are in Canada, that is) does not use up your Plan Minutes.
The plans all feel fair, which is kinda weird for a cellphone company.
They do have some addons so you can customize your plan and still keep it as inexpensive as possible. Personally, I'm on the $50/mo plan because I call to the States semi-frequently.
Public Mobile Add Ons:
They have some good add on plans. You can add these international long distance plans.
We have several long distance options available for calling from Canada including:
- 1000 Minutes to the U.S. for $15;
- 1000 Minutes to the U.K. for $15;
- 750 Minutes to India and Pakistan for $15;
- 500 Minutes to China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan for $15;
- 100 Minutes to the Philippines for $15
- 300 International Minutes for $15
- 500 Canada-wide Minutes for $5
*Note: these minutes roll-over to the next month… and stay in your account as long as you have an active plan, even if you drop the addon package…which is awesome!
In addition, you can add data plans, and even US roaming plans if you plan to travel to the US.
Regrets About Switching To Public Mobile:
Regrets? My only regret is that I didn't switch earlier. I get the same coverage without the whopping bill from Telus each month. I save literally OVER $200 per month! That's $2400 per year in savings.
Who own Public Mobile?
Public Mobile is owned by Telus. You are basically getting the exact same service as Telus for a fraction of the cost.
What are the drawback of Public Mobile?
You can't speak to somebody on the phone. Because of this, it might not be the best for older people who don't have anyone to help them get set up… not that it's very difficult, mind you.
They do have an active support community, and you can get a quick answer to your specific question from them. I have used this forum and received a prompt, personalized response. They do reward customers who answer questions in the community for a phone bill.
They don't have overseas support. So if you plan on using your phone overseas, you'd need to look at getting a temporary phone for all your awesome travels.
Lastly, I was hesitant about 3G speed. But I have found not a single time I have been waiting for something to load. I use Google Maps, Taxbot to track (and write off) my mileage, and sometimes on the go, I might use Safari and FIFA Companion App.
I have watched YouTube and it works fine – but I try not to blow through data by watching video while I am on data.
I have not noticed a difference in any way.
How to the rewards work?
You get $2 off for setting up Autopay – paying your phone bill automatically with a credit card. This makes sense and it's one less bill to take up your time.
You also get $1 off for every customer you refer per month. If you refer 10 customers, and they remain active, you would get $10 off your phone bill. This is a way to further reduce a necessary recurring expense. You also get a one-time $10 bonus for referring a new customer that first month.
There is also a long-term Loyalty Bonus: you get $1 off every 30 days after your first year as a customer, $2 off after your second year, $3 after three years, etc.
Support Agent Bonus: You get up to $20 off every 30 days when you contribute to their online customer support community.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you already signed up and did not use a referral code, you can contact support and ask them to apply this to your account to claim your discount.
WX60K0 (Those 0's are Zeros by the way!)
What is the average speed of 4G and 3G data?
You can check coverage and network types in your area at the Public Mobile support page. The Telus network ranked second for download speeds in both the 4G and 3G network categories in Tutela's 2020 “Mobile Experience Report,” tests showed an average speed of 15.68Mbits/sec for 4G downloads and 5.30Mbits/sec for 3G downloads.
Public Mobile Cheapest Plan:
The cheapest Public Mobile plan is the $15/month 100 Minutes Canada-wide Talk Plan. This can be customized with some low-priced add-ons. With AutoPay, this is only $13/mo – plus you will get an extra 250MB of 3G data.
Why this plan rocks: As a base plan, this is everything most people need. You get 100 minutes of outgoing calls, unlimited incoming calls, no long distance charges within Canada and unlimited international text and picture messaging.
By the way, if you want to see just how much you pay for recurring charges each month is to download a cool app called Bobby.co.
The Public Mobile Plan I am on:
The best premium plan offered by Public Mobile is the $50 plan, which includes 8GB of 3G-speed data, nationwide unlimited calls, and free long-distance to the United States. This is great if you have relatives in the US. And the 8GB of data is plenty for streaming Spotify and doing whatever without worrying about hitting the limit. (I don't watch Netflix while on data.)
Public Mobile: Should You Switch To Public Mobile?
Bottom line is that if you consider a cell phone a necessary expense, as I do, why not reduce that bill as much as possible so you can put that money towards something more productive?
Use this Public Mobile code to claim your $10 credit when you create your account: WX60K0
If you are Canadian and want to earn some free money every day, check out this blog post.
Hey, I'm Andrew. I moved to Lisbon, Portugal from Canada. Follow my journey here.
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