A number (unknown to me now) of months ago I had some problems with my Sony Ericsson x10 phone and wanted to get a new one. Around the same time I observed the growing trend of new "indie" mobile providers such as Wind and Mobilicity. They touted unlimited talk text and data for 35$. My Rogers bill was around 85$ a month and there was obvious need to investigate.
I did some research and eventually concluded it was time to eat the cancellation fee and switch providers.
The switch was made seem less by Mobilicity. I went into the shop, bought the HTC Panache and was set up with the same phone number within three hours.
Now that I've been on this provider for some time I want to detail the quality of the service and help give some direction for anyone else interested in saving a lot of money by switching away from the monolithic phone providers.
My Usage Habits
I live and work downtown and as a result spend most of my time in the downtown area. Members of my family live in various other parts of the city (namely Kanata/Stittsville, Walkley and Heron and South of Barhaven).
Service downtown is by far the best. It works as well as being on the Rogers network. I text message regularly, use the phone as often and stream music and surf the web a lot. This would indicate to me that they have a good amount of infrastructure to handle a reasonably large user base.
As mentioned before my monthly plan is around $39 dollars a month (some cents included here that I don't really notice). Recently I received an offer to sign up for automatic billing and in exchange received $2 off my monthly bill for a period of time described by the offer as "life time". I signed up for this and now my bill is around 37$.
Mobilicity is constantly offering sign up deals and promotions (obviously in effort to gain members) but it's very much worth it. I received a 100$ credit when I signed up and now there is a promotion on offering a 200$ credit for signups.
There is also a new plan that offers unlimited long distance in Canada and the US. This plan runs for 45$ / month and is a pretty good deal if you ask me. They also offer BlackBerry compatible plans that are essentially all of their plan features which is 55$ a month, however BlackBerry is on its way out (if you ask me) and you are better off with an Android or iPhone. If you are worried about loosing BBM, don't worry. Android and iPhone has Google talk and Android (I imagine iphone has it to but I don't know) has Google Huddles which are like group chats. I've used them a bit and they work great and is way better than what I've seen from BBM.
These prices are also way less than anything I've heard anyone from Telus / Bell / Rogers brag about.
For the time I have been on the Mobilicity network, it has been rock solid. Nothing is perfect however and I have noticed some periods in which the network was down. However these periods were often on weekends early in the morning or late at night. I have never used the phone during the day and had it not work or not be able to find a signal.
Now here are the downsides: because Mobilicity is a growing network, they have a coverage map. This means that they only serve certain areas, for example Ottawa has a certain range in which you can get Mobilicity coverage. Outside of that area you are considered roaming. That said roaming charges are not very expensive and I do roam on an occasional basis and have never noticed any scary numbers on my phone bill.
The coverage area has also grown significantly since I joined. When I first signed on, there was coverage in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and I believe various parts of Alberta. Now it is a large portion of the West and the populated areas of Ontario and has grown into Quebec (Montreal and Quebec city). http://mobilicity.ca/coverage/north-american-coverage/ check it out yourself.
So all this said, the further away from the city center you live, the less of a good idea it is for you to join Mobilicity. However if you are often in the city working or going to school where ever (in Ottawa) it is a great choice to save a lot of money and not be continually cornered into contract renewals and price hiking. Mobilicity's plans are straight forward and generous when compared to those of the bigger providers.
I wish I could say the same for other indie providers but unfortunately I do not have any experience with them. The differences I read while researching options seemed to be primarily within policies on roaming and things, so I would guess that the quality of the service is similar. I chose Mobilicity because they seem to be the most hip and have lots of Ads everywhere which make me believe they are dedicated to building their network.
One other note is that I have been into the states a few times with the phone on Mobilicity and I did use it a little bit to use maps and find my way somewhere. Roaming charges did apply but for what I was doing was very cheap.
If you have any questions please leave them in the comments and I will do my best to find a good answer.