Calling up your wireless phone company is no small commitment — an entire evening can easily be consumed listening to the cheap, staticky, elevator music as you wait on hold to speak with an agent. But last month, the wait may have been worth it. Canada’s three largest wireless service providers — Rogers, Telus, and Bell — nearly synchronized the release of an almost too-good-to-be-true phone plan for residents of B.C., Alberta, and Ontario. For just a few days, they were each offering 10 gigabytes of data with unlimited texting and calling for just $60 a month.
To compare, both Roger’s and Bell’s most popular plans usually offer 3 gigabytes of data, with 300 local minutes for $75 a month. Telus, however, usually offers 1 gigabyte of data for $70 a month.
A recent study commissioned by the Government of Canada found that Canadian prices were ranked highest for data plans ranging from two to five gigabytes, and second highest (following the U.S.) for anything over five gigabytes. Though, since last year, prices have decreased by 7.4 per cent for two to five gigabyte data plans, and by 4 per cent for plans with more than five gigabytes. In these same two data categories, Australia and France were found to have had the lowest prices.
Downtown Sydney, Parisian cafés, and cheap phone plans? Please excuse me while I start packing my bags.
But honestly, do any of us really need 10 gigabytes of data? According to Virgin Mobile’s data calculator, with 10 gigabytes of data, you can watch an estimated 166 hours of YouTube, browse 59,000 web pages, or send 500,000 emails. I don’t know about you, but I feel dizzy just thinking about sending 500,000 emails. And although I definitely want to watch 166 hours of YouTube, there’s no way I would have time.
Recently, the City of Vancouver announced that they’ve added nearly 500 new free Wi-Fi hotspots all across the city. And, who knows, maybe that will soon creep out into the Fraser Valley. Maybe one day every square inch of this planet will be Wi-Fi accessible, and the need for data will be gone. But, I’m sure the phone companies will still find a way squeeze every last dime out of us somehow.
The idea of always being connected to Wi-Fi is pretty neat, but sometimes I just want to be disconnected. Maybe I want to go spend the morning at the beach, and maybe, just for a few hours, I don’t even want to have the option to be available online to anyone.
Phone plans just seem so much more complicated nowadays. I almost feel nostalgic for the days when my flip phone only cost somewhere around $20 a month. Sure, there was no data, and I could only send a finite amount of text messages; but at least every message I sent felt a little bit more valuable, and browsing the web all the time felt a lot less necessary.