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Switching a US Verizon phone to a Canadian carrier


docj

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I don't recall seeing this topic discussed before, if it has, I apologize for the duplication.

 

Because we spend a lot of our summer in Canada we have found it useful to carry a prepaid Canadian cell phone since the in-country per minute rate (20 cents) is a lot less than anything Verizon can offer and, in addition, local Canadians enjoy not having to make an international call to a US number just to be able to return your call. Until recently we had been using an inexpensive flip-phone I had purchased from one of the carriers but it died and the equivalent phone available through Bell was $100 on a no-contract basis.

 

However, one of the folks at the local phone store suggested I ask Verizon for an unlock code for one of our US phones. I vaguely recalled that legislation had been passed which required the US cellular carriers to agree to unlock your phone if you are free of any contractual commitment. So I called Verizon and asked for the unlock code for my wife's S4 Mini only to be told, to my surprise, that Verizon doesn't lock 4G phones and that all I had to do was replace the SIM.

 

The task turned out to be slightly more difficult than just exchanging the SIM; it was then necessary to get the phone to identify the networks in my area and then to direct it to connect to the Bell network. But once I figured that out the process took only a couple of minutes.

 

So now I have an S4 Mini connected to the Bell network using a prepaid account. It has no data access but, of course, it retains its wifi capability and there is plenty of free wifi in Canada at restaurants and stores. In-Canada calls cost me 20 cents/minute (plus long distance charges) and calls to the US are, I believe, 50 cents a minute. Even a so-called Canadian package on Verizon (which I'm not allowed to use because of my grandfathered unlimited plan) has higher rates than that plus you lose the advantage of having a local number for people to call.

 

Obviously, this isn't needed by everyone, but for those who spend a lot of time north of the 49th parallel I thought this would be helpful info.

 

Joel

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We were just up in Vancouver for a bit, and did that with our AT&T phone (you do have to ask them to unlock) and got a prepaid through Chatr that included 1GB of tetherable data. It's on the Rogers network. Gave us Canadian calling and texting too, for about $44/month US dollars. We interviewed all of the prepaid services up there, and none had a problem with a non-US address. For postpaid for longer visits - most required one, except Fido can get gotten around.

 

But even more awesome is T-Mobile's new 'Mobile without Borders' - it just works like you're in the US. We turned our iPad's $20/month 1GB plan on the day it went live - and it auto roams to 6 different networks at full speed. Super handy. (Of course, coverage in the US isn't early as good). Next time we travel in Canada or Mexico for any length of time, we'd just get a T-Mobile family plan which would give us each 10GB of high speed data (unlimited slow speed), calling, texting for 2 phones for $100/month.

 

Nice to see connectivity in Canada & Mexico getting easier and easier.

 

More info on the T-Mobile option: T-Mobile Introduces New Family Plans – Ideal For a Canadian Summer / T-Mobile “Mobile Without Borders” Extends Coverage to Canada & Mexico

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For postpaid for longer visits - most required one, except Fido can get gotten around.

 

 

 

We do have a Fido USB modem that we use in our WFR. It's basically a $10/GB plan but that's really only a ~$7/GB at today's exchange rate. It only costs us $15 (CAD)/mo to keep active during the winter. It does take a bit of effort to find the "right" FIDO franchise.

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It took a bit of work but I now have my phone operating with full data capability on the Bell network. The phone can now do everything on the Bell network it can do on Verizon. For us I think this works out to be less expensive than having yet another phone running on T-Mobile just for the purposes of having Canadian service. I still like having a local Canadian number that people can call us back on.

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