Canadian carriers like to make big claims about how good their service is, especially when it comes to 5G. But I think it’s time they put their money where their mouth is and give Canadians a way to try how good (or bad) these services are, and U.S. carriers have a great example of how to do this.
If you haven’t heard, Verizon launched a 30-day free trial program that lets people in the U.S. leverage eSIM tech to test out its ultra-wideband 5G, 5G and 4G LTE networks. Verizon launched the program in November 2022 to match similar programs from T-Mobile and AT&T (via flanker brand Cricket).
Android Central published an interesting breakdown of how Verizon’s free trial works. It offers 100GB of data and unlimited talk and text, and you don’t even need to supply a credit card to sign up. People can sign up by downloading the Verizon app from the Play Store or App Store, selecting the option to start a free trial and following the steps to get set up with an eSIM. Verizon even supplies a temporary number to use so people can keep their current plan during the trial.
Obviously, there are some limitations to this. For one, it doesn’t do much for people who don’t have eSIM-compatible smartphones (though most smartphones sold in the last few years do support eSIM). Moreover, if Canadian carriers did adopt a free trial like this, it wouldn’t solve the rampant competition problems (which are only set to get worse thanks to a recent merger).
The main benefit of a free trial program like this is it would give Canadians a chance to test out if carrier promises live up to the hype.
5G is one of the main things that come to mind. Anecdotally, after using Bell and Telus 5G on my own devices, I’ve ended up back on a “worse” 4G LTE plan because it was still fast enough to handle my needs while also giving me more data and costing less per month. If there was a free trial offer, I might never have gone through the hassle of switching to a 5G plan just to find out it wasn’t worth it.
But beyond that, free trials could let people see if a carrier has adequate coverage where they live or work, and test if smaller players could meet their needs, potentially letting them save money by switching carriers. Plus, it’d benefit carriers too, since if their services were really the best available, they’d get more customers.
Ultimately, it’d be a huge win for consumers. Unfortunately, that’s also why we likely won’t see free carrier trials come to Canada any time soon.
But hey, a man can dream.