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View Full Version : Unlimited wireless data in Canada for $10/month

10-08-2007, 06:05 AM
Well this is a huge step forward for wireless data prices in Canada, even if there's a small catch to it.

Virgin Mobile is already the lowest-cost cellular provider in Canada, with a 100-minute plan available for $10/month (total bill - no extra "system access fee", no charge for voice mail box). And now they've introduced a new phone and a data plan to go along with it.

Their new phone -- okay, it's not a WM6 smartphone -- is the Samsung m510 (https://virginmobile.ca/site/buyaphoneDetails.do?phoneId=10-00047&sType=w). It has a lite web browser in it that will allow access to "most sites" according to the tech support person I spoke to, including, "definitely", Google's GMail (probably the mobile version at http://m.gmail.com).

Virgin now offers, only for this Samsung m510 phone, the brand-new Tidal Wave data pak as an add-on to any of their voice plans, including the $10 plan, and this plan offers **unlimited data** (see http://www.virginmobile.ca/site/en/pricesAndFeatures/html/data_paks.html). So, if you can stomach using their limited browser, multi-tap or T9 for data input, and the small screen on the phone, it's all all-you-can-eat wireless data feast for only $20/month total bill.

The next closest offering would be either Telus' or Bell's $109 plan (funny how their prices and features are identical) which offers 1 GB of data. On Rogers, 1 GB of data would cost you $2710 !!!

Once word gets out, this might put pressure on the big three, especially Rogers, to drop their rates. About time. Comments?

10-08-2007, 09:37 PM
If this is true, and I am told that Virgin uses sim cards, then you could in theory swap out the sim into a phone with a qwerty keyboard and use the features that way. So, with an unlocked phone and a virgin plan, could you not make use of the bigger screens and a keyboard?

OOPS, just checked and it looks like Virgin doesn't use the sim cards. my bad.

Mike Temporale
10-09-2007, 01:43 PM
Interesting... The Big Kahuna is the same price as the Tidel Wave. Only difference is the Tidel wave is unlimited data. So who would sign up for the Big Kahuna?

It's great that someone has finally offered a reason data package, but Virgin? Come on. We really need Rogers or Bell to pick up on this. Virgin is useless if you ask me. :( At least with Bell you can pick a good phone. It's still CDMA, but you can get a Q or HTC 5800.

I don't expect to see any of the big guys take action againts this for a while. Perhaps in a year or 2, but Virgin isn't a threat.

Jason Dunn
10-09-2007, 08:06 PM
Hmm - that's indeed quite interesting! Not practical for any "real" use unfortunately, but a step in the right direction. I actually got word from Rogers that they've introduced a new rate plan, I'm waiting to hear from their sales guy to see if it's public info or not.

10-29-2007, 11:05 PM
Okay, I now own a Samsung m510 and have signed up for the Tidal Wave plan. It really does cost only $10/month, and is only available with this phone. So Mike, that's the reason why you would buy the Big Kahuna plan -- if you don't own this phone.

I've checked and I can indeed get to my GMail in one of two different ways:

- One is to launch the browser, then "Go to Web" and key in the URL http://m.gmail.com, or else go to "Top Mobile Sites" and select GMail. The (dis)advantage of this method is that once you key in your user ID and pwd once, you can select 'remember this' and never have to log in again (of course, if you lose your phone, whoever finds it will gain access to your GMail account, at least temporarily).
- Two is to "go to web", then to http://gmail.com/app and download the java GMail client. It's slightly nicer to work with in terms of user interface, BUT you have to key in your user ID every time you launch it, which can be a pain if your ID has 17 letters like mine. Also, each time the app connects to the server, you have to explicitly allow it. What is this thing, Windows Vista?

I spent all afternoon sending and receiving emails, and my credit balance didn't budge (yet). However, a few gotchas with the phone:

- if you send a picture or a video to a friend or upload it to your PXT on-line folder, you'll be charged $0.50 for each upload, whether it's a single picture or a video. (however, you can then email the link to as many friends as you want for zero additional cost).
- if you are using the GMail app and press 7 to delete a msg, you'll have to press 7 again to confirm the delete. The app will not allow you to back out of a wrong key press - though you can just exit the app.
- the keypas is essentially flat, with no real distinguishing edges between keys (there's a slight depression between each key which is hard to sense with your fingertip). In spite of this, it's not too hard to press the right key, except when you're not looking.
- the top half of the flip phone is not quite long enough for you to be able to open it with your thumb or finger. Rather, you have to grab both sides to open it. This may be an annoyance or note, depending on your personal style.

Other phone features:

- the pics and videos don't look stellar on the small screen, but are not too bad once you upload them to the PXT site or your PC
- pics are stored in your phone, or on your external microSD card (you get a 64 MB card with the phone), in .jpg format. Videos are stored in .3g2 format (which a number of apps including Pro version of Quicktime can convert to .mpg, .avi, or other formats).
- the camera is 1.3 MPx, and can record in the following resolutions: 1280x960, 640x480, 320s240, 176x220 (the size of the inside LCD display)
- the video camera can record in fine, normal, economy (I'll check on what means exactly).
- once you load your microSD card in the supplied SD card adapter and put it in a card reader, it gets immediately recognized by iPhoto in Mac OSX which offers to upload the photos off the card. However, iPhoto does not (by default) recognize the .3g2 format of the videos, and won't upload those - though you can do it manually using Finder. I notice that Quicktime in Windows recognizes and can play .3g2 files, so likely it can on Mac OS X as well.

- the phone comes with stereo earbuds that plug into the proprietary headphone/charger port
- you can download from Virgin the free Soundbar music player app, which allows access to music & video downloads ($$).
- once you've subscribed to the $10/mo. Tidal Wave data plan, then you can do the following:
--> for $10/mo. you can get unlimited access to free videos in the following categories: entertainment, movies, music, heavy.com, news, sports, comedy, action, francophone, babes & hunks, têtes à claques. Or, you can watch any videos for $1 each.
--> for $7/mo., you can get access to unlimited listening of free radio subscriptions in the following categories: 80s, alt indie, country, dance electro, jazz & classical, rock, pop, world, R 'n' B Soul, hip-hop, contemporary; each of these categories may have one or more sub-categories - for instance, alt indie has 2Kool4Radio, Canadian indie, alternative.

10-29-2007, 11:08 PM
BTW, the rep at the Virgin Mobile Canada store I talked to when buying the m510 told me that Virgin is looking at selling a PDA phone, but had no more details. I was bemoaning the fact that they have no phone with a keyboard, even though their British subsidiary does. He went on to say that they're a young company in Canada, so there are limits on how fast they can move in introducing new features. I don't know about that - they just introduced 3 new phones in the last two weeks!