A new mobile phone service provider has launched in Canada. Sugar Mobile is hoping to give Canadian cell phone users an alternative to Canada’s “Big Three” — Telus, Bell, and Rogers — by offering mobile phone service over Wi-Fi for as little as $19/month.
“I think this is the future,” says Samer Bishay, president and CEO of Sugar Mobile. “With our technology and our position in the Canadian market, we feel that we can penetrate that barrier and push through.”
Sugar Mobile requires you to have an unlocked phone, the purchase of a $29 starter kit which includes a SIM card, and the downloading of an Android or iOS app (sorry Windows Phone or Blackberry users). After installing the SIM card, launch the app and use it for unlimited talk, text, and browsing over Wi-Fi in Canada and the U.S. (or anywhere with Wi-Fi access) with your existing phone number. All of this happens of course while connected to a Wi-Fi network either at home, work, or a Wi-Fi hotspot. For the instances you aren’t connected to a wireless network, Sugar Mobile includes 200MB of data over 3G access. While 200MB isn’t a lot of data, Sugar Mobile claims that with that amount of data you can:
- Talk for up to 600 minutes; or
- send up to 20,000 text messages; or
- send or receive up to 4,000 Snap Chats; or
- talk for up to 80 minutes on Facetime; or
- send or receive up to 2,000 emails without attachments; or
- send or receive up to 400 emails with attachments; or
- make up to 800 posts on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; or
- view up to 1,000 web pages
If you use your 200MB data allotment before the 30 days is up, you can simply top up for another $19 or continue to use the service on Wi-Fi only.
Samer Bishay is certain that its Wi-Fi model will work for consumers.
“Most people are in a Wi-Fi hotspot 85 to 90 per cent of the time,” says Bishay. “During the time you’re in that zone, we allow you to do all your calls on the Wi-Fi network, so it connects you to the mobility network without having to incur the cost of keeping a cell tower engaged all the time. And then once you leave that Wi-Fi hotspot… we still allow you to do your voice and SMS, but through a 3G network.”
With companies like Shaw and Telus installing Wi-Fi hotspots across major cities, this may hold true for a lot of customers, but in smaller cities and in rural areas this definitely isn’t the case. Still, if you do find that you are mostly on a Wi-Fi hotspot, Sugar Mobile could definitely be an alternative for you.
So how exactly is Sugar Mobile able to do this while other companies have been unsuccessful? Sugar Mobile is owned by Ice Wireless which in turns owns a mobile network in the northern part of Canada. Ice Wireless has reciprocal roaming agreements with Telus, Bell, and Rogers and major U.S. mobile providers, which allow Ice Wireless customers to roam across Canada and the U.S., while Telus, Bell, Rogers, and U.S. customers have roaming access while in northern cities like Inuvik, Whitehorse, and Yellowknife. While the Big Three have been reluctant to sell network access to MVNO carriers — companies that lease mobile network access from companies who own it, because Sugar Mobile is owned by Ice Wireless they already have access to mobile networks across Canada, a back door into the Big Three if you will. Unlike the U.S., there are currently no independent MVNOs in Canada because the Big Three won’t lease network access to them at this point, maintaining their hold on Canadian mobile access. It will definitely be interesting to see how Telus, Bell, and Rogers react to this move by Ice Wireless/Sugar Mobile.
If you are interested in giving Sugar Mobile a test drive, they do have a 30 day free trial allowing you to access their service on Wi-Fi only. After the 30 day trial, you can choose to continue by picking up a Starter Pack which is available at participating Shopper’s Drug Mart and 7-11 locations. Are you going to be giving Sugar Mobile a try? Let us know in the comments below, or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.