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Are we ready for data-only smartphone plans?

HTCOneReview-5
Over the past seven days, I had the privilege of exploring one of the most fascinating and culturally-rich cities in the world. Berlin, from a tourist’s perspective, is full of wide streets, great food, memorable architecture and, yes, a mature cellular infrastructure.

There are three main providers in the country, many of which traverse the continent: O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone. When I left Canada, I was under the impression that it would be relatively easy to bring a compatible unlocked smartphone and obtain a prepaid SIM card without much hassle. It turned out, in fact, to be even easier than I thought, and throughout the ensuing seven days it became clear to me: I could get by, in Canada or any country with a compatible network, on a data-only SIM card.

First, the basics. On Friedrichstraße, one of the city’s main streets for restaurants and shopping, I walked into a well-stocked MVNO by the name of Mobiledirect (check this name) that re-sold O2 service under the brand FONIC. While the company distributes smartphones and postpaid plans, I was interested in its prepaid fare. I discovered that, in addition to value-conscious voice and text plans, for €20 FONIC sold a 1GB data-only SIM. I brought along an unlocked Rogers HTC One, which happens to be compatible with most of the world’s 3G networks, including Germany’s.

I thought for a while about the ramifications of a data-only SIM. Not travelling with anyone, I didn’t need to make local calls or texts, at least not in any traditional way. Due to the recent proliferation of data-based texting and VoIP apps (Google Hangouts, Kik, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, Facebook, etc.) there would be no distinction between talking to friends and family back home; no phone numbers are involved at all. With some friends I’d use Facebook Messenger, others Hangouts. For calls, I’d use a mix of Facebook, Skype and Viber.

What’s important here is not that “native” phone calls and SMS services are obsolete but that they can — and increasingly are — being replaced by data-centric equivalents. A VoIP call uses just a few megabytes, and a week’s worth of messages even less.

Recently, a few VoIP services like Fongo and Vonage added the ability to port cellphone numbers over to VoIP services, allowing users to set up the digital equivalent of a traditionally trunk. More a la carte SIP providers, like voip.ms, let you port a number or purchase a new one and route incoming and outgoing phone calls through third-party apps like CounterPath’s excellent multi-platform Bria app, which is available for iPhone and Android.

The main problem with this approach is that all Canadian pre- and postpaid cellphone plans begin with voice and texting as a requisite — data is merely tacked on to the end of the bill. As providers like Rogers, Bell and TELUS have seen users’ data needs skyrocket while traditional calls and texts plummet, they have maintained a clear and incisive revenue path by differentiating based on data bandwidth limits. In other words, you have no choice but to pay for voice and SMS capabilities that you may not want. Even if removing such features would only save a few dollars a month, there is no option to do so.

I acknowledge that it is possible to work around this by purchasing a tablet-specific data plan and using it in a phone, but this brings up another sore spot for Canadians: price. Anywhere in Europe, it’s possible to get reliable, high-speed HSPA+ service for much less than its Canadian equivalent. As providers entice users over to high-speed LTE networks, they could take advantage of increasingly-vacant PCS spectrum used to power HSPA+ networks and offer discounted data services to those who don’t need the extra speed. This would be a boon for visitors looking, as I did in Germany, to connect for a short time with a data allotment sufficient enough for calls, messages, mapping, browsing and the occasional streaming video.

I haven’t delved into the complicated and often divisive world of MVNOs in this piece because the regulations that go along with enforcing competitive wholesale prices is not applicable in the cellular industry. Unlike the ISP side, cellular providers are not required to sell third-party access to their networks at any specific rate. The market sets the price, which means for users of PC Mobility or 7/11 SpeakOut, data prices are often the same or only slightly less than the parent providers themselves. I am not endorsing the regulation of wholesale network pricing, but rather encouraging providers to take advantage of an increasingly-unused section of network to sell lower-cost data-only SIM service.

At its core, the issue is about paying for features you don’t use. One could argue that by differentiating based on data allotment, you’re removing voice and SMS services from the equation. But then, based on incumbent providers’ most recent price plans, you’re paying $70 for 2GB of data, $80 for 4GB and $100 for 6GB. I don’t need voicemail; I don’t need texting, extreme or otherwise. I just need raw data access, plain and simple.

I may be in the minority, but there is a growing subset of users who just want to pay for what they’re using. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • Joseph Cacoilo

    There should be more customization over plans. Meaning amount of SMS, call minute, data to allow for specifically what the customer wants/has to pay for. Would be nice to see some phone companies allow things like this, but I’m not too sure if big cellphone companies will want to do this.

    • sid32

      No. Everything should just count as data. SMS = 15kb, voice = 2 megs a minute, etc.

    • Joseph Cacoilo

      Interesting idea, never thought of that idea

    • dsfkjasldkfjlaksdjf

      except that SMS should be more like 128 bytes

  • Erik N.

    I completely agree, although I still would need around 50 min & unlimited texts for the ppl that I need to contact through text messages and the odd call here and there,, a plan focused around data would be extremely beneficial and perfect for myself and many others. In return, they should give a larger data pool, start the plans at 2/4Gb – 10Gb. With today’s phones being LTE, apps such as Instagram switching over to videos and many other data intensive applications, our wireless companies need to do evolve and stop restricting us.

    • TomsDisqusted

      If you still need 50m, then no, you are no ready for a data-only plan. Would it not be possible to fulfill those 50m through a VoIP provider that offers Canadian phone numbers?

    • NattyDreadlocks

      I was in Germany last month for a visit (lived there for 10 yrs) and purchased a FONIC pre-paid with phone number. For 20 Euro, I have a great data plan and German phone number good for 2 years. When I go back, just slip the SIM into my Nexus 4 and I’m good. Europe is light years ahead of us regarding cell phone coverage and plans.

  • icyhotonmynuts

    Do you actually think RoBelUs wants to give you *value* for your money? No, they always want the ball in their court – so you will always pay more than what your plan is actually worth. Same goes for their television, home phone, and internet connection. You will bounce around between the three every time there is a promo – but alas always stay within the “big three”.

    Entrance like Wind and Mobilicity have the right idea – but they are small – and operate on those AWS bands that, to be frank, most of the world doesn’t actually use. In which case, stay at home, in your major city and twiddle your thumbs at the idea of traveling with your mobile phone – unless you like staying in one spot and using WiFi all the time. But hey, at least you don’t have to get a SIM card, right? Luck you.

    • Anthony

      That’s why some companies are going bankrupt or selling out. Right idea doesn’t mean it is realistic, especially to Canadian small market.

    • Tom

      Just because most of the world doesn’t use AWS bands doesn’t mean the phones Wind/Mobi sell aren’t compatible with non-AWS bands. For starters, every single smartphone they sell already supports 2100 Mhz (used in Europe and Southeast Asia), even if the smartphone doesn’t support the Robellus brands. Also, a good portion of their lineup happens to be quad or pentaband, i.e. supporting BOTH the AWS and the Robellus (850/1900) frequencies.

      Same goes for phones sold by Robellus and AT&T, and even Verizon’s newer models (with dual GSM and CDMA radios). 2100 Mhz support for usage outside North America is pretty much a given on modern phones, whether they support AWS or not.

    • HeyYoWL

      While the wireless market is pretty stagnant (and yes if coverage and connection stability is your main concern the smaller companies will not offer you what you’re looking for), television, home phone and internet you have a lot more options actually. Just switch your internet company to one of the smaller companies like Teksavvy and all of a sudden your options are much more open. For less than the price I was paying at Rogers for internet before, I am now getting 5x the bandwidth ($10 less, 300GB vs 60GB) which allows me to use other services dependent on your internet connection. I pay $4 a month for home phone with Ooma, and Netflix works great for everything else be it TV or movies, though most TV stations have their programming available online too if necessary. The chance to save money is there, you just need to look. :)

  • alphs22

    Aren’t data only plans called tablet plans? Don’t these already exist?

    You said FONIC sold you a 1GB data SIM for 20e which is about $27.50 CAD. Fido has a tablet plan for $35 monthly that gets you 5GB.

    Daniel I’m not sure what you’re on about with this post.

    • Henry

      I see that option on the website as well, do those data sims work in a smartphone? I thought someone told me they don’t but I can’t say I know.

    • Plazmic Flame

      You’re right. A tablet plan SIM, just like a rocket stick plan SIM (for your laptop) would not work “out of the box” when put into a smartphone. It would take a tech-inclined person to know to look for and change APN settings.

    • Josh Brown

      It is the same apn. If not just google it. I have switched my tablet sim and phone sim with no issues. We need google voice up here I use it when I go to the US for Work. It is so awesome never use anything else.

    • dsfkjasldkfjlaksdjf

      Totally wrong. No need to be tech-inclined at all. Just swap the SIM card. It works out of the box.

    • Thomas Milne

      This is totally true. There is a guide on red flag deals on how to buy the sim. GGetting the sim activated is the hard part as Bell wants an IMEI number that one could get from Google.

    • ArberBeq

      maybe the sim card was included with the 20euros cause I know in most places in europe its like 10-20euros for unlimited

  • John Hamilton

    I have had my S3 since Nov 2012 and I have used 145 minutes of voice total, wrong numbers and such. I do not need voice and would love a data only plan but providers here in Canada like to rape us for their profits.

  • Shane Sparky

    If the telcos in Canada allowed data only plans and made them half the price of current plans (without text and minutes) the fat cats behind the desk wouldn’t be paid as much. I wish this would happen as much as you, but it won’t. I was in Singapore years ago, and a 1GB data sim was $5! Canada is far behind.. but it’s the companies slowing innovation.

  • Bilal Akhtar

    Great point, Daniel. I rarely text or talk on my phone; it’s all about the data. I’m currently looking around for a cheap prepaid plan + a data add-on. It’s possible to create your own customized prepaid plan at $25/mo with 500mb of data and pay-per-usage text and talk, on Fido and Telus, for instance.

    It’s not as cheap as I’d like, but it’s possible.

    • EvanKrosney

      I get 150 Canada wide, unlimited SMS/MMS, CID/VM and 200MB for $25 on Koodo postpaid. It’s not a bad deal, but more data would be great.

  • Adam

    Bell has an ipad plan, starting at $0 if you don’t use it, and rates flex up from there. It;s pretty cheap actually, cheaper than what Daniel is claiming happens in Eurpoe. Only catch is you need to own your own phone.

    • EvanKrosney

      BYOP? Unless the attitude of the NA consumer changes, that’ll never work here outside from us techies and smart consumers.

    • Kuko Kukovic

      tablet flex plans start at $5 per month even for 0MB usage, but it is only $35 for 5GB … my international Note is quite happy with this “phablet” :-P data-only plan, also if you really need to you can make or receive calls or SMS, you get charged for it though ($0.30 for local call, $0.10 for SMS, or something lake that)

  • wildspin

    Data-only SIM cards are quite common in Asia and can be obtained at rather cheap price in mainland China, Hong Kong etc.

    I usually buy data-only SIM cards from China Unicom to use in my iPhone or Android with the VOIP apps using my Toronto local numbers. Nothing beats the cheapest way to stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues back at home. :-)

  • Andrew P.

    If VOIP worked a little better I’d love to go straight data only. Not sure if it’s Skype, my phone, or my service (Rogers HSPA). Always seems to drop or glitch, or have poor voice quality.

    • hyperhyper

      Skype has gone downhill since Microsoft took it over and started mucking around with it. Daniel offers some good alternatives…

    • Plazmic Flame

      It’s definitely a combination of them. Skype and the others like it aren’t at the level to be you’re only source for phone calls.

  • hyperhyper

    “I may be in the minority, but there is a growing subset of users who just want to pay for what they’re using.”

    Daniel, I hope you wrote that facetiously because it made me laugh. I think a large amount of the population wants to pay only for what they use but we don’t have a choice due to the Oligarchy that refuses to compete with each other. I’ve been wanting something like that for years but the closest thing I can get is the $40/month from Wind. Same goes for the TV stations. Years ago, I wanted to be able to pay only for the shows I want to watch but no, I have to pay for everything else. So because the big companies are unwilling to fill the need, I am forced to look elsewhere and there have been some pretty good alternatives out there for the tech inclined.

    Btw, nice article and thanks for the promoting this!

  • Plazmic Flame

    This was a great article.

    Canada is definitely ready to go data-only but the Big 3 gate keepers will never let it happen. In fact, the Colossal 6 in North America won’t let it happen. It’s like we’re in a bubble here.

    When I show family abroad the prices for cell phone services, their eyes pop out of their head and their heart tries to burst out of their chest. It’s mind blowing really. I’m with Telus right now but it’s only because I was able to cleverly get an employee deal. No way in hell I’d be paying $70+/month for 2GB of data and 250 minutes. Highway robbery right there.

    Data services need to improve though. A lot of services like Skype and the bunch aren’t reliable enough yet to be the sole provider of calling services. Same goes for video chatting as well, which I use a fair bit of. Sad to say, the most reliable service I’ve used is Apple’s FaceTime. In my tests, it’s been the most stable, even with bad connections. Once Apple adds FaceTime-Audio-Only calls, I think we’ll be hearing a lot more about data only services.

    • abc123

      You should try Google Hangouts. It’s pretty reliable even with super slow connections.

  • Davidyyz

    If I’m travelling, data only would work fine. However, for domestic usage it would not work for me, and probably many others who don’t have landlines. Although it is rare, there are times where you just need to make a lengthy phone call. Whether you need to call your provider, bank, hydro company, work conference call, airline, hotel etc, you might find yourself on the phone for more than 30 minutes and there’s no way I’m relying on a VoIP app for that.

  • Nadefrenzy

    Count me out on that one. I still NEED voice and text. In fact I use that most often than as compared to other data based apps. People respond faster anyway. It’s also more reliable in my experience.

    • Plazmic Flame

      Do you have an iPhone by any chance?

    • Nadefrenzy

      Nope. Note 2 user here.

  • Alex

    I feel the exact same way. I feel that unlimited data is ENTIRELY possible for a cheep price and they’re just money grabbing.

  • Dula714

    Why can’t cooperate plans be given to individual citizens?

    • EvanKrosney

      Think about that for a second.

  • Philippe

    I have been using data only on my smartphone for the last two years. Simply choose a prepaid tablet plan.

  • TorontoWireless

    I have been using the TELUS prepaid service $30 for 1gb data only for the past 2 years on my daughters iPhone 4S

  • Chris

    Advice: Get a data only sim and get Fongo app w/ Unlimited Text $10 every 6mo (Fongo also offers porting).
    I’m paying $7/mo for data and $1.66/mo for Fongo.

    • Phoney

      Where can you get data for $7/ month and how much data do you get for this price? Another couple of things to note are the fact that TextPlus is free and not $10 / mo. and I don’t know why you are paying Fongo $1.66/ mo. when it is free.

    • Chris

      Because Fongo has unlimited free incoming and (outgoing calls to pretty much all of Canada). Textplus is 2.2c/min which is 75min for $1.6/mo.

      My unlimited data is from pc mobile grandfathered but fido has ipad plans for $10 150MB (enough for voip) and speakout is going to announce data only soon.

  • wes

    I’ve been wanting to do this!!!! The only thing I’m waiting for is for my contract to be done and I’m waiting for the new Nexus 7 3g/4g!

    Since I always have my nexus 7 with me, getting the new Nexus 7 3g/4g, I’ll run it as my main phone. (I’m already using Fongo!).

  • AppleBerrySandwich

    I would love a data only plan as I have a viop account anyway.

    Phone companies will never allow it.

  • DantePerrotta

    I’ve always liked Rogers’ added-value features, such as Call Display w/ Name Display, WhoCalled, and OneNumber, but I agree Extreme Text is stupid, and it doesn’t even work properly unless the phone supports it.

  • Locutus

    I agree. More and more people are using data while the usage of minutes & texts is declining. What’s also needed is more unlimited data plans. Here in the UK only 1 network and 1 MVNO offer unlimited data.

  • Markus Kretzer

    Just FYI we have four major providers in Germany, you forgot “E-Plus”.

  • eszklar

    I’ve been doing this with a Nexus 7 Wifi+3G on Mobilicity since last November. Using Fongo and Google Voice/GrooVeIP as well and I’m pretty set. The Nexus 7 is pentaband GSM which is why I can use it on Mobilicity. Would love to do this with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 but the GSM version is only quad-band.

  • lakhijhajj

    I don’t think the big 3 will ever let that happen. Reason being I am with Telus since 2002. I use to drive a lot between Toronto and Windsor. I asked them to give me unlimited incoming calls and I can pay $100 every month ( remember this is in 2004) ,they never agreed not even for incoming calls. Fast forward to 2010-2011 they are offering unlimited calls incoming and outgoing for $35 plus data( thank you to WIND/Moblicity). The whole point is that now they know there is no money in airtime anymore bec the small providers are doing unlimited plans.
    So now the money is in DATA and they are milking us all big time in data usage costs. For $65 I get only 1 GB and unlimited calls. That is expensive compared to WIND for $35, but the data speed on WIND is not as fast as TELUS, therefore I doubt they will reduce data plan prices or give data only plans. Not until WIND is LTE, then Robellus will be forced to do so, provided wind is still around. Until then carrier data plans and policies suck in CANADA.

  • FKnm

    LTE speed full coverage + unlimited data + dell voice(FREE phone number) and I’m good to go with data plan only…

    • Chris

      dell voice is now fongo but yeah, +1

  • itched

    I wanted data only plans in 2010. Once I got Google Voice working with sipdroid, I no longer needed voice.

  • Bbrysucks

    FU KING YES!

  • ns.dev

    “I think a lot of customers don’t want big data plans,”

    • Dataman

      Standard voip uses around 1mb/min. Any less and your voice quality suffers dramatically. A poorly coded website (hint – mobilesyrup) can easily hit you with 6mb just to see the homepage when not providing a mobile version.
      Data only plans should start at a minimum 1gb.

    • Henry

      In response to mobile versions of websites, they suck. They suck a lot, always missing tons from the full website and absurdly big fonts which is a waste of my 460 ppi mobile screen.

  • WhoCares1000

    Two ways to go Data only are 1) when VoLTE is available or 2) carriers still charge the e911 fee so you make emergency calls when data is not available.

  • DavidP

    I’m not satisfied with VoIP quality and reliability on most phones. I still need carrier voice. What would be nice, is not to be forced to take more minutes than you need. What would be nice is a data plan with pay-per-use minutes. Currently, data-only SIMs cost 1$/minute for pay-per use which isn’t reasonable.

  • God

    Would there be any 911 issues with using a VOIP service?

    I am ready for data only. I have been for a while. You can get a decent amount of data for 40-50 bucks. I tend to whatsapp over text messages already anyway. I could live with paying for the phone when you consider the savings while I travel and drop to the minimum plan for a month or two.

  • katiepea

    yes, for the love of god yes. cellular connections are totally not needed.

  • thomasancheta

    I have been using a Galaxy S4 with a tablet flex plan since (almost 1 year now) and have never had any problems, before I was using the same plan with my Galaxy S3, Note 2 and Galaxy Tab (I just have to be careful not to place a call or use sms.) So far I have been paying no more than $35/month as I average about 5GB of usage per month (streaming, hotspot, etc.) Just have to make sure my APN’s are correct

    And I have been using mostly Viber & MagicJack to do my calls.

    I visited the Philippines for 5 weeks last January and bought a 1 month pre-paid unlimited data package for my iPad which cost me about Php 900 (CAD $23.00) and that worked great to my needs while I was down there.

  • americ4n

    I get by with just 100 voice minutes and unlimited day. (un)fortunately it’s because i have no friends. hello internet, i am on drugs.

  • onkyo

    I respect the author and others who demand a data only plan. But data only plans do exist and it is not as expensive as the author claimed in the article, not even among the big 3. Even long time ago, Fido offered 6GB for $30. as an option, but the lowest price plan was only $15. at the time (not only that, the plan and the option are both qualified for the iPhone 3G subsidy!!). So together it was only $45. for 6GB, hardly $100. as you said. (and that’s w/ a little bit of voice offer).

    As for data only SIM and VOIP as a replacement, I respectfully beg to differ. Let me state that I have been involved with VOIP for more than 15 years now. The Bria you mentioned, I had used the X-Ten and X-Lite by this company (new name was Counterpath), which was based in Vancouver, BC! I had even used VOIP before that, although not based on SIP before that time (H.323 among others). I have lots of experience using VOIP over various mobile and wireless path, including cellular of course. Except for a stable LTE, I am not convinced that any other networks today can deliver a 99%+ reliability for VOIP at all. I am still testing it over HSPA+, just like you mentioned, and indeed, not 100% reliable, and that is with a stable and strong cellular signal.

    Another thing I disagree as a replacement, is the battery drain on most, if not all VOIP clients or solutions on mobile devices, is simply no match to on device cellular voice calling, especially on standby. Before there was Push, it was horrible. Now w/ Push, it is a bit better but still drains a lot faster if you have it running on the background. If you rely on the Push notification to launch the app, sometimes if your phone is sluggish (or tablet), the launching can be too slow to be any good (i.e. you might miss the call. What if that call is very important?).

    The argument that it can be a replacement doesn’t really work because of these reasons (I can name others, if you want). It is not a better argument for those who want to save money on data, say that they can get data when they can find free WiFi, or simply starve off using data until getting home or workplace. I do not agree that mobile data is more worthwhile (thus the argument is better value) than voice / SMS, because one can completely replace the other. For those who really rely on voice / SMS, VOIP solution (or internet based messaging), should not be a 100% matching in terms of quality or reliability, that they can be completely replaced.

    The author enjoys data (and lots of them), and so do I. But saying that should be the universally acceptable way to have things (i.e. carriers’ product offerings) being sold, is narrow minded. For example, I cannot even replace my mom’s PSTN line, even though I know I can get her a VOIP replacement at 10% (more like zero) of the cost, only because I know she doesn’t trust it, and I also don’t trust it. And that is for home, and her home has a rather reliable ADSL internet (thus, no additional cost should I want to, indeed I set up a VOIP separately for her, for LD calling only).

    The cost is what it is, in each country. It is also hard to compare. 2 weeks ago my friends were visiting my other friends in Paris. They went on a road trip. I asked them now much patrol is costing there (what we call gas), and was told it was 1.70 Euro / L. So should they whine about the cost of gas compared to Canada? (and we do whine about that against the price in US). So that anecdote is not helping our argument here, unless you are willing to move to Europe only for the sake for cheap cellphone pricing (service only, phone doesn’t seem to be cheaper?).

    As per your title, I am wondering what do you mean by “are we ready…” as if it is some kind of inevitable change in the near future? We already have data only plans, for hotspot, data stick and tablet. Each is priced differently b/c people can’t understand the differences. (I do notice that certain tablet plan forbids tethering, I have yet to find out about the technical aspect of that, and if there is a workaround or not).

    I do agree with the last sentence from the author. Same w/ cable TV etc, I always want a flat rate, and an a la carte offer, but that is hardly how the business world operates. They all want to differentiate among the others, and thus, change the offerings in the details. If it is up to me, I would like to buy data at a rate per BYTE (if not per BIT!!!). They are now doing that w/ water in my city here (measured rate). Same for phone too. But then, you will find out that the PPU rate is always the most expensive, if ever available. Thus they force you to go w/ a bucket.

    It’s like going to an expensive Japanese restaurant or izakaya, if you order a few small dishes, it’s over $20. already. If you go to a mid price all you can eat Japanese food, it’s no more than $30. usually, and you can have 20 dishes if you want, plus more. (Of course not same quality, but for analog sake only).

    It is because of competition, providers are now making more and more packages / plans / options etc. This part, however, has a nasty side effect. It confuses the customers, and the customer service people are overwhelmed and under trained, and everyone suffers. They should indeed simplify the offers. Remember ClearNET and Fido in 1997 or so? Both companies, as new entrants, stressed how much simpler their plans and terms are, compared to the big 3. That was indeed refreshing. Let’s look at Fido now; no longer that “simple”, isn’t it? (Fido and ClearNET didn’t have contracts either, way back). So being simple, more a la carte, didn’t seem to work.

    Even WIND and Mobilicity are getting more complicated in their offers and products. They are all going toward the same downward spiral. But someone tells them that is now they compete. And then it creates this enthusiasm among enthusiasts to “compare” plans and offers, like a hobby itself (even though it is quite a chore!).

    Voice and SMS are not going away any time soon. How much can they get away for charging a high price for a high allotment? Depends on how much competition there is in the market.

    But simply a data only offer, is not itself an answer. Providers simply will charge a higher price, as data is in demand today, and will be in the future.

  • Torontoyes

    You could have added the Talkatone app and still make/receive calls and texts to North America for free using a google talk account. That’s what I do when I’m in China or Hong Kong. Now with LTE, call quality is excellent.

  • David Rousseau

    I am going to the US tomorrow. My objective is to get a 5GB prepaid data only from T-Mobile @ $50.

    I am already a customer of VOIP.MS. I just need to configure my dialer to receive the voip calls.

  • Tom

    I do this all the time when I travel abroad especially to Europe and Asia (I still purchase minutes anyway, but I have the option not to).

    Having this sort of thing in Canada would be useful to tourists and benefit everyone in the long run.

  • Julian Ateyah

    personally I’ve been trying to find a good deal on a Data only plan i can use internationally, since i travel quite often to different places. I have found that i can survive on data alone, since there are so many apps that can use data to replace the basic functions i need network connections for. I just wish there was a good roaming plan, as thats where my phone company usually screws the pooch lol I just wish sim cards had a monthly plan instead of day by day.

  • Matt

    I am a diplomat from Europe who arrived in Ottawa last year. At first I was in disbelief how medieval this market it. No sensible voice prepaids. No prepaid data only sims. AT ALL!!! Price of all cellular services?? – 10 years behind european standards. The disbelief turned into frustration when I learned of 3 year long contracts, I am here for a 4 year term. How am I to do so? The European standard is 2 years long and 1 year long contract becomes a very welcomed novelty!!
    Then I decided that I do not need voice service. I can do with data only service.
    The result – I bought a Note2 for a full retail price – 700 something CAD (still locked to a carrier – another nonsense) and then persuaded Rogers to give me a 5gb tablet plan for 37 CAD. A save of around 1000 CAD over the voice plan with similar data over a period of 3 dreaded years.
    I do not need voice if I have VOIP. I do not need SMS – ever since I switched to touch only handsets I find it increasingly difficult to type those 160 signs.
    I still find 37 CAD for 5Gb outrageous and I could slash it by another 2 CAD if I changed to Fido but I have rather bad experience with the Fido coverage (supposed to be the same as Rogers but it is not – I bought S3 for my wife and while I enjoy LTE on my note, she is struggling with 4G or HSPA whichever you prefer to call it). And believe me! HSPA works here like edge in Europe. So slow it imflicts phisical pain. Namely headache…
    But looking at your market I do not see a slightest chance that the situation will change. Just like a stupid 100 km/h limit on your highways, you’ll be stuck for eternity with 3 year contract with data as an add-on for outrageous kinda money….
    I do feel sorry for you as I feel frustrated about that.

  • streetiebird

    I need this to happen!! I refuse to pay $70+ per month when I would never use voice/text! If I could get a data-only plan for a smartphone for around $30-35 per month I would jump at the chance!

  • dsfkjasldkfjlaksdjf

    Short answer: yes.
    Long answer: I have been doing this since I have a smartphone in 2010.

  • ScooterinAB

    The problem is, honestly, the customers. Obviously, the author’s situation is a bit extreme and specialized, but most people really underestimate their cellular usage. It’s like when data wasn’t built into plans. Just because it wasn’t there didn’t meant that people weren’t using it and getting billed pay per use charges. It comes down to customer education. Those who are technically minded can get away with this, but probably 90% of customers will just get into trouble by not using data services properly. There is only so much a sales rep can tell you, and the rest is up to the customer.

    True, more enticing options should be available for those who only want data. But I can say for a fact that it isn’t that simple, nor is it as simple as companies just offering more data on things like “tablet” plans. At the end of the day, things like text and talking services are coming down in price to the point where there is little cost associated with them. If you don’t want the voice mail or texting that your plan comes with, don’t use it. You really aren’t saving anything by not having it, where as more customers benefit from it being included.

  • jeckenzibbel

    Yes, it’s true. I lived in Berlin for 3 months last winter and for EUR 5 got the microSIM from Lidl Mobile which is run by Fonic (Lidl are a chain of large grocery stores), signed up for the EUR 6.95/month plan which gave me 500MB data plus unlimited throttled data beyond that (I am a light user). That was plenty for all my Berlin map googling and checking email and using Skype for phone calls and iMessage for texting. So I guess I spent a whopping EUR 26 for a total 3 months of smartphonie.

    Oh, and food and alcohol in Berlin costs only a third of what we pay in Canada too ;-)

  • Ariannah Armstrong

    I recently cancelled my cell phone because after several months, it was glaringly obvious most of my communication was still primarily wi-fi and data generated. I was a late adopter into the cell phone market and people had been long into communicating with me via chatting apps on line (irc, google hangouts, facebook, skype and the like). Also my husband did not have a cell phone, and since he’s the main person I talked to when we were not in the same house, that’s how it happened. Even the employee who activated the disconnection noticed that there was very little “phone stuff” being used and it was all about the data.

    I can only hope that eventually cell-phone companies are going to clue in that the segment of people who want data-only when it’s only offered on some tablets are going to buy tablets instead of phones. Or, they can just start making phone sized tablets. Since businesses follow buying trends, here’s hoping enough people make it known they want to buy data only.

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