Looking for advice: US citizen going to school in Canada

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by flynz4, Mar 28, 2010.

  1. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I am looking for some advice.

    My daughter will be starting a 2 year masters program at the University of British Columbia in the fall. She currently has an iPhone in the US... but I do not believe that AT&T has any plans that would be economical to continue using that cell phone in Canada... which leaves us looking for other solutions.

    Her first preference would be an iPhone, but that is not required. She would like a smart phone so that she could get email on her phone. She also needs to call and text to the US... and we do not want to pay huge international roaming rates.

    I think her priority would be:

    1) ~400 minutes of Canada voice per month, plus 250 text messages/month
    2) Reasonable amount of data for a smart phone (email etc)
    3) 2 year contract maximum
    4) WiFi Access (she will have WiFi all over campus, plus at her residence
    5) Skype app if at all possible... to use while calling home
    6) Alternately, local calling to the US (this does not seem likely)

    We visited the campus last week, and Canada seems to have reasonably priced "dumb phones". The smart phones seemed to all have a 3 year contract, but we did not do an exhaustive search of all the cell phone companies.

    If she was to get a dumb phone... I could get her either an iPod Touch, an iPad to supplement it to make Skype calls to the US. Are there any issues using Skype in Canada?

    She will have her old AT&T iPhone. I could choose to keep that active for her trips to the US (at about $40/month)... but I do not want her using it in Canada because of the fees. I would prefer to deactivate it. If I was to deactivate her iPhone, could she still use it as an iPod Touch and use the Skype app via WiFi to call home?

    There must be other US residents who go to school in Canada. What do you do? Thanks in advance.

  2. NorrisKillsKids macrumors 6502a

    Jan 14, 2008
    Number one rule in Canada when it comes to cell phones. You will be raped if you want a smart phone (most often).

    If you want a dumb phone, look at the 35 dollar plan here, the last one: http://www.fido.ca/web/page/portal/Fido/MonthlyPlans?forwardTo=monthlyPlans

    Has almost everything you mentioned. You can also combine voice and data (25 bucks for 500mb, 30 for 1 gig).

    I'm not 100% but if she already owns an iPhone from at&t, can't she just unlock it and use it with rogers? I believe they use the same frequency bands if that even matters. I don't believe there are any Skype issues, I've used it on my PC a ton of times.

    If she chooses to keep the iPhone and use it here the best she can do to get everything you mentioned would be the 35 dollar plan plus 25 or 35 bucks bucks depending on if you want 500mb or a gig.

    Also in Canada you pay for caller ID so add 7 bucks to everything you see.

    edit: I should mention I live in Canada, not from the US.
  3. flynz4 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I spent some time talking with AT&T tonight. It seems that there is a "USA and Canada" family plan. I am currently paying $100/month for a 2100 minute family plan for the US. Adding Canada would bring that up to $120. After my corporate discount... that would be $80/$96 respectively. In addition, I also pay $10/month for each additional phone on the family plan. We have 4 iPhones.

    However... we currently get unlimited nights/weekend minutes on our family plan, but that would be reduced to 1000 nights/weekend minutes if I add the Canada option.

    We would be able to continue to use our A-List and Mobile-to-mobile free calling... but that would only work for calls originating and terminating within the US. We would use our minutes for any calls over the border.

    The most disappointing fact is that any text messages originating in Canada (either Canada-to-Canada, or Canada-to-US) would be charged $0.50/text. We currently pay $30 for unlimited text messages, but those would only apply while in the US. My daughter would not be charged for incoming text messages, just outgoing. However... $0.50 each is outrageous. They do have a $10 plan for 50 outgoing text messages... but even that is high considering we are already paying $30 for unlimited text.

    Her campus, and housing would all be be supplied with WiFi... so I guess she could shut off her "data roaming" at the border, and then she would not be charged for any data, but would still be able to use her iPhone in WiFi mode all over campus and at home. It is a compromise... but that is workable.

    Option #2 would be to get her a cheap dumb phone (they have a 450 minute plan for $25 on campus through Bell)... and then buy her an iPod Touch for WiFi based email and web surfing. She would need to carry two devices which is undesirable. She will also be visiting the states from time to time... and if she gave up her US iPhone, she would have the same problem in reverse.

    Any other suggestions?

  4. canucksfan88 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 28, 2007
    first off...welcome to UBC! although i go to the "other" school in SFU, its cool to welcome international students to Vancouver =)

    anyways, phone plans up here suck. although if she wants to use her iphone, you could always unlock it and go with a "sim" provider (being bell, rogers, telus, fido)

    in my opinion, going with fido would be cheap. 15 bucks per month, 150 minutes add 5 bucks for texts i think or something to that effect. you can stick in the sim card and she can use her iphone. (although call up fido and have them institute a data block)

    since UBC, like SFU, is fully wifi'd, internet will not be a problem and she can still check emails.

    to talk to you guys, she could always skype and or email. texts between canada and us have always been mega expensive, and i am not too sure what is out there.

    that is my 2 cents. good luck!
  5. flynz4 thread starter macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I am not too sure if her phone can be unlocked. I thought that Apple changed things so they could not be.

    Skype is a good option for longer calls. She could also send us an email that would be received as a text message. I think that it is 123456789@txt.att.net or something like that.

    The bigger issue of her staying on a US plan is if she wants to text other people in Canada. That would necessitate a local cell phone as you mention.

    I picked up a sheet at the UBC bookstore a couple of days ago. They are promoting a 250 minute plan for $25 and text messaging with 250 outgoing and unlimited incoming for $3.75. Those rates are good... but then she will still need a cell phone for use in the state when she comes home.


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