There are two constants in the discourse around Canada's cellphone market: that the networks by the Big Three — Rogers, Telus, and Bell — are top-notch, some of the best in the world, and that the prices Canadians pay for access to those networks are some of the highest.
An increasingly popular "underground" market, though, is helping people save money on cellphone plans by taking advantage of discounts given by regional carriers like SaskTel and MTS and porting those plans to consumers in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, and Nova Scotia.
From the CBC's Sophia Harris:
At last search, online ad site Kijiji in Toronto was crawling with advertisements for a bargain Koodo or Fido phone plan — just $48 a month for unlimited Canada-wide calling, texting and a big 5GB data package when you buy through a third party. Telus actually charges almost double the price — $90 a month — for that Koodo plan in Ontario as well as most provinces.
That $48 price is important, since it is the exact amount Koodo and Fido charge for that 5GB plan in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where regional incumbents SaskTel and MTS have forced down the price of service. Middlemen in those provinces — presumably those who work at dealer stores with access to those discounted plans, or those with connections to people who do — have become adept at helping people in have-not provinces gain access to those geofenced plans.
According to representatives from Telus and Rogers, the companies, while not outright disavowing the resale of discounted plans, warn that there is inherent danger in sharing personal information with outside parties, and there is no guarantee the service will remain in good standing indefinitely.