The Cellular phone market in Vancouver, BC - Canada

By: Sandro Salsi

Not so many years ago, cellular phones were a rare commodity but today, nearly everyone has a handset. It is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy and there is still a lot of room for growth.

Not so many years ago, cellular phones were a rare commodity but today, nearly everyone has a handset. It is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy and there is still a lot of room for growth.

There is a cellular phone for every need, style, and taste. No matter what you need for features, shapes, color, or price, you will can a cellular phone. Today cell phones are as good as computers; you can even surf the Internet and send emails.

You can customize your cell phone in the most incredible ways: color, display, new and exciting ring tones, faceplates, and much more. You can make your cell phone totally different from your friends’ and you can use it to chat with your friends in real time. You can even use it as your main telephone and get rid of your regular landline.

It hard to imagine a life without cellular phones.

Companies are constantly trying to improve the technology by adding new features to your cellular phone; in a few months, today’s cell phones will be a thing of the past.

Another important factor is cost: prices of the handset are coming down all the time and providers are in a price war to attract more customers. Phone bills, especially in Canada, are extremely competitive with regular land-line providers and more and more subscribers closing their land-line accounts to opt in to more convenient wireless contracts.

Wherever you live, the chances are that you will have a choice between a few major cellular phone providers. Typically four or five, as well as a few smaller local players, will be competing for you. Competition is fierce and companies are trying to come up with promotional offers all the time. In Canada, we have a smaller number of providers than in the United States but, because of the geography, cellular phone penetration is extremely high.

Here in Vancouver, BC, Canada, we have the choice between 4 major providers: Rogers AT&T, Bell Mobility, TELUS Mobility and Fido.

Since Fido has been purchased by Rogers AT&T recently, there are actually only 3 major providers, despite that Fido operates as an autonomous company.

Both providers use the GSM network.

Top North American providers are Cingular Wireless, T-Mobile, Rogers Wireless and Fido.

So what network should you use?

GSM seems to be the most flexible solution but CDMA has a better reception – if coverage is important to you (rural areas) then CDMA is probably a better option.

If SMS (Short Message Service. A service for sending messages of up to 160 characters, or 224 characters if using a 5-bit mode, to mobile phones that use Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication.) and roaming is important to you, that might dictate which network you are going to use.

Voicemail, text messaging, email, data transfer (sending pictures to your friends), adds up on your phone bill so make sure you’re doing your research before making a final decision, as you are often locked into a 2/3 year contract.

Consumer review websites should be consulted specifically in Canada, as there are hundreds of hidden costs. Here on the west coast and in Vancouver, BC, in particular, the competition is fierce and the network providers will go the extra mile in trying to get you on-board.

Already present in the US and in Canada, cell phone number portability will allow customers to switch from cellular phone carrier to carrier to take advantage of the latest promotion and/or discount while keeping your old phone number.

This is only good news for consumers because cell phone carriers will try their best to keep the fees low in order to keep the customers.

A cell phone user doesn’t always have to sign a contract to use his/her handset as there are also a prepaid option. Commonly called “pay-as-you-go" in Canada, it may take on different names depending on the carrier: Fido calls it “Fidomatic" while Telus calls it “Pay-and-Talk"

WHAT ABOUT WI-FI?

Canadians are jumping onboard the Wi-Fi phenomenon with a record pace. Recent estimates predict that by 2008, Wi-Fi hardware equipment and Wi-Fi integration services will exceed 900 millio, with shipments of 1.9 million base stations and 4.1 million access cards.

Wi-Fi is not exempt from drawbacks"

*There are some major security headaches concerning the use of your laptop at a local cyber café

*Oftentimes, Wi-Fi hotspots available to the public are not fully reliable

*Gateway providers may not be too interested in offering the very best hardware or routers

However the advantages of using Wi-Fi connectivity are exceptional:

*Free connectivity: you can bring your PDA, smartphone, laptop or Palm device to a Wi-Fi hotspot and not worry about any charge

*There are thousands of access points or Wi-Fi hotspots installed by Rogers and Telus mobility in Canada – there is virtually an Wi-Fi hotspot in any city in Canada and Vancouver, BC in particular leads the nation for user per capita.

Clearly benefits to this Wi-Fi phenomenon outweigh the drawbacks.

Wi Fi Roaming vs. Cell Phone Roaming

If you’re making and receiving phone calls from you cellular phone and you are outside of your home calling area, most of the carriers will change their per minute fees which are quite high. You want to check before using your cell phone heavily while traveling.

This will also be way cheaper too.

Here are some free Wi-Fi hotspot finders:

Free Hotspot Finder -   

PC Hotspot finder -  

Laptop Hotspot finder - , (Note: click on Wi-Fi finder when you land on the home page)

Finding a hotspot is relatively easy. Simply visit one of the 3 websites above to find a free wi-fi public gateway access point near your area.

Fatport, for example, is a Vancouver based wi-fi provider that uses roaming agreements with other Wi-Fi providers. This method allows Fatport subscribers access to over 4000 hotspots in North America.

Cell Phones
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