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Bell Mobility Canada GSM/HSPA Network Goes Live, Brings iPhone With It!

Bell Mobility has just announced that their new GSM/HSPA network, shared with previously-CDMA frenemy Telus, has gone live! What does that mean? Yesterday, Rogers and their Fido subsidiary were the only place to go for Apple's iPhone (or a BlackBerry Bold if that's how you roll). Today -- technically as soon as Telus announces -- you have your choice of 3.5 carriers (Fido is still Rogers).

So this means massive competition, price wars, and huge wins for consumers, right?

Eh... not so much. Like Orange UK, multiple carriers seems only to mean multiple non-competitive pricing plans, as each one wants as much as they can get, and don't feel any pressure to compete -- yet.

Hardware prices are the same, up to $299 for the iPhone 3GS on a 3-year contract, with service plans ranging from $45 for 100 minutes, Fab Five, 500MB, night/weekends 9pm-7am to $95 for 500 min, Fab Five, 2GB, nights/weekends.

(Along with $6.95 system access fee, monthly e911 fee, $2 paper billing option, $35 activation fee, and other nickel and diming...)

If you're planning to hook your iPhone up to Ma (Canadian) Bell, let us know what you think of the pricing, and what you choose!

Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Wow those Canadian prices are a scam. They are robbing you blind
  • Combo 55 doesn't sound so bad
  • @Killer Yeah, I'm paying $92/month at Fido (a Rogers child company).
    I get around 750 minutes, 6 GB data, voicemail, callerid, etc. 1,500 text messages, MMS is extra, I get tethering, and a couple more things but I forget.
  • That 45$ plan is better than the 66$ Fido one I've got imho.... only real diff is later start for unlited time... sure there's the 911 fee or whatever but that still sets it at 52 instead of 66
  • So, with the iPhone coming to Bell and Telus, I'm one of those people who's finally making the jump and getting one. But I'm really uncertain about data plans. Someone mentioned that the $55 plan is pretty good... is 1GB enough, do you think? (Note: Wifi is sketchy in my area, so I won't be using it much.)
    This might seem like a dumb question, but I'd really appreciate any advice. I've read a ton of stuff about this in the forums but nothing that really explains how much data an iphone uses for different online behavior.
  • @MMC I think 1GB is plenty for any normal user. I have the 6GB plan from Fido and have collected a 15 months of bills. I use an average of 130Mb/mth. The most I ever used was 475Mb. But then I use Wifi at home and at the office.
  • 3 year contract! That's the same amount of time as a car lease, and I thought a year contract was too much of a commitment!
  • @ich bin ein iPhone - thx for your thoughts. That helps. :)
  • If you are an existing customer even 2 years into a 3 year deal, the only way you will get an iphone is to pay full rate $699/$799. There are ZERO deals for existing customers.
    Bell should offer some kind of deal. OK so maybe I cannot get it for $299, but do not try and make me pay $799! Bell throw your existing customers a bone or Hello Rogers/Fido for all my services!
    TiPb why not start a petition for existing Bell customers? :) Maybe Bell will change their mind?
  • I just got the $55 plan...great deal and works great. I waited for this, don't like Rogers at ALL!!
    I should have more data then I need...but we'll see with all those apps.
  • Does this add any area?
    Does Bell/Telus service areas not covered by Fido/Rogers which will bring more users on board, or will this just cause customer churn?
    In either case, I'd be willing to bet adding Bell sells more iPhones in sparsely populated Canada in the first four days than densely populated China.
    The China launch has been widely reported as a huge bust, with only 5000 phones sold.
    (The wifi crippled official iPhone is competing with the CHEAPER full featured gray market iPhone from Hong Kong, and it does not look good for Apple or Unicom right now.)
    With Bell on board iphone starved regions of Canada should generate a sales jump just in time for the seasonal rush. It should look good on Apple's Balance sheet.
  • I called Bell today to see what my options were since I am an existing client:
    A) Wait until I am eligible for a hardware upgrade (Mar 2010)
    B) Purchase the phone full price with no contract
    C) Do a "Transfer of Responsibility" for my current phone & plan to someone else (they will take it over completely) and take advantage of a new contract.
    D) Pay out the remainder of my contract (in my case $400 +tax) and take advantage of a new contract.
    E) Get a share plan and put my current phone at the cheapest plan ($15/mth) until my contract expires while also purchasing the iPhone on a new contract (2 contracts at once).
    Before I do this, I bought a smartphone through Bell last year (since no iPhone with Bell) and was HORRIBLY disappointed - Bell had changed and restricted the applications and functions. I did a ton of research to make sure the phone was what I wanted but had no clue everything was so limited! Has this happened in this case or does it have everything apple advertises?
  • To all you complainers, why don't you just add your gogle number to the any five thing on there? This way you can get the $45 cheap plan. And really, how many people actually go over 500 mb?
  • Google*
  • Google Voice is in Canada now? Who Knew?
  • I am an existing Bell customer and much excitement, I called Bell today to get more information on purchasing an iPhone (finally!!!) and adding a data plan to my existing plan. I was surprised to hear that Bell is not allowing existing customers to add a data plan to their current plans. I currently have a corporate voice plan which is pretty great. $25/month for 250 minutes a month, voice mail, caller id, unlimited text messaging, evenings and weekends free after 6pm, per second billingetc . . . The woman offered me the $45/month plan which is more expensive than what i pay now and includes far less! Why on earth would i want to switch to that?! I want to keep my plan but just add a data plan!! No can do she tells me. If i wanted a blackberry, no problem. I could keep my existing plan and pay an additional $35/month for 500mb.
    I don't want a Blackberry. I want an iPhone. I then ask how much it would cost me to purchase the phone as I am only entitled to an upgrade and my contract is over May 2011.$599.95, $699.95 or $799.95!!! Are they out of their minds?!!! I am just appalled and disgusted with how little they care about their existing customers. They do nothing to keep their existing customers happy. NOTHING!!! When I did some calculations it would cost me less to cancel my contract with Bell and pay out my remaining months, switch over to Rogers and sign up with an contract for the the iPhone there ($199.99) I mean even if they would let me add a data plan to my voice plan it would cost me 699.95 for a 16gb iphone. It is criminal!!! The customer service rep told me that she has been getting a lot of negative feedback from existing customers and totally agrees with me. I am really disgusted with Bell.
  • Google Voice works in Canada but limited in functionality as you can't get a Canadian area code.
  • Here is what is written on the Telus site (the other CDMA carrier who's HSPA network goes live tomorrow).
    Small print on their website:
    "Existing CDMA clients with rate plans that include data and/or data add-on features will need to upgrade their rate plan/feature to a new suite of similarly priced HSPA data plan options."
    It looks like everyone will lose their old voice and or data plans when they switch over to a HSPA device (iPhone or BlackBerry 9700). Telus and Bell often follow the same policy. I was excited about having access to GSM phones but I'm not very pleased about losing my rate/data plan. I doubt I'll switch now.
  • I cannot complain, as I called bell looking to get an iPhone, and got the following deal(I had 10 months left on my second 3 year contract).
    $61 a month for
    400 min
    my 5 Canada wide
    nights starting at 6
    2 gig data
    unl texts
    visual voicemail
    call display
    and a bunch of other features i will never uese (3 way calling ect)
    Not the best plan ever, but decent for what I need, and better than what I could find at rogers, or telus.
  • Okay, I went in to Bell today as I was excited to see a $45 plan. He first tried to sell me with approx $93 plan because it was a "great deal". When asking about the $45 plan, I was appalled when I realized that $45 would quickly become $70 monthly when you add the $20 it would cost for voice mail, call display, access fee, etc. That seems way to high for what is included. I will check out telus tomorrow but I am doubtful they will offer a better rate.
  • yikes... voice mail, call display, access fee are all required... sounds like bell's more expensive than fido after all...
  • @Jeff, as an existing customer with 10 months left, did you pay full rate for the iPhone? If they gave you the same deal as a new customer, who did you speak to. I want that deal too!
  • @ SpeedRacer99, I had $200 is a bell upgrade, and they gave me an additional $300 for signing the 3 year contract. so it was $500 off the price of the iPhone. That just turned out to be the cost of the iPhone regularly,(299 for a 32gig) I called into bell saying I haven't been using my plan much, and was thinking of cancelling it. They said they have the new iphone, and I chatted with the retention agent (named mary) for a while, and I got that plan.
  • For all of you that are exited about the Bell iPhone on their new high speed network, I strongly recommend that you all wait while. I signed up for the iPhone at 10am yesterday morning (launch day). Since then, I've lost cell coverage altogether. My old Blackberry no longer works and my iPhone has yet to come alive. It's been over 28 hours now. Worst yet when someone dials my cell number, they get a message that my cell phone number is disconnected. This is never a good thing when you are in sales and business development like I am.
  • @ Robert Lepack, I had the same problem. Bell said that it was because of too many new subscribers to the iPhone. definitely not something that should have happened, but after 28 hours my iPhone worked with service. I might be different than others, but it has worked quite well for me so far.
  • Why is everyone complaining about these Canadian wireless carrier fees? It's been like this forever. No cell phone deals in Canada. Go across the border and welcome to the land of paradise. When new phones are launched none of the Canadian carriers, Rogers included, offer deals to existing customers. It's too expensive for them to waive what remeins on an existing contract. Welcome to the land of limited opportunity. "If you want to play, you've got to pay." And pay large is the Canadian business acumen.
  • I agree with all the existing customers who aren't entitled to a new iPhone. I have been a customer with Bell for 8-9 years. My contract is up in 10 months, and no allowance for new contract with data plan. 699 for a new phone, 200 to cancel current I can cancel and go to Rogers cheaper. Bell, shame on you. Guess you've proven beyond a doubt that customers don't come does.
  • @chaimeka, I have been a bell customer for 4 years (cell, dish, and internet). My Contract is up in 10 months (sept 2010), and there was a large allowance for a new phone.. There was actually $500 to be exact. So the cost of a new phone was much lower than signing a new contract. There was no price to cancel the current contract I had, if I had signed a new contract. A regular consumer from bell products had attained a much batter plan than the bell website suggests. Cheers
  • finally rogers will start to sweat
    we still waiting for globallive
  • I purchased an iPhone 3G from Bell 2 days ago and was so disappointed with the reception that kept failing that today I returned the phone. There was complete refusal to take the phone back at first, however, after remaining calm and showing that I had only used 25 minutes of talk on the phone and the limit to return an iPhone was 30 minutes, the manager accepted a full refund. I reconnected my Samsung and went home.
    Any of you have problems with reception on your iPhone? Basements are really bad in homes and other buildings.
  • I have no idea why any of you are so excited fro the iPhone. I had the iPhone 3G for a year on Rogers and it was easily the worst and most expensive phone I've ever used. Poor reception in all areas, poor call clarity, poor battery life. I then made the switch to Bell and got a Blackberry Tour and couldn't be more happy with my choice, I pay less than half of what I was paying with my iphone for a superior plan. In my opinion, the iphone is a gimmick and I would take a Palm Pre or a similar touch phone over the iPhone anyday. Hell I would even take the Blackberry Storm 9530 over the iphone.
  • I will be looking for a phone that will sync with my iCAL and address book on my iMAC. The iPhone seemed to be a good choice, however, it is no longer an option till Apple comes up with something better. Does anyone know of a phone that will sync with these MAC programs?
  • does this mean that u can hook any gsm phone to bell , or u can only buy a phone from bell canada?
  • You can use google calendar/apps to sync to virtually any phone, including IPhone. Its a cloud app, so you should have no issue syncing ical.
  • I will not buy into the overprice-hype. I want the iphone, I will sign a three year voice contract, but I DO NOT need the data plan. I have wi-fi at work/home. So no phone company gets my money until they make a plan to meet my needs.
  • You have to get a data plan or otherwise you pay several hundred dollars more for the iPhone on top of what it costs on the 3 year contract.
  • I have a rogers iphone and the service is crap everywheres!!!! Can I have 2 carriers at bell and rogers????
  • I purchased an iPhone yesterday, drove home to my small town (between London and Stratford, Ontario) and found that there is no service, even though the website claims there should be. I called tech support and sure enough, they're having problems with service from Perth County to Lambton County (a big area!). My only option now is to go back to the store, return the phone, go back to my old phone and wait for them to fix it (they have no idea how long it will take). The tech guy I spoke with told me that they launched the network months earlier than anticipated and before they could fully ensure that it worked everywhere they promised it would. Frustrating.
  • I got my iPhone from Bell on Friday and today I find there was no network in Montreal !!! (big) I called the dingdongs and they told me too take the battery out of my iphone . After doing a power down and power up, it came back online. They say they have been having this problem for a week.
    If I did not like that, I can return the phone if I had not used 30 minutes of airtime.
    I just spent the weekend configuring everything
  • As far as I can tell there are still 2 problems with Bell offering iPhone, or any other hspa phone.... 1: you will only get service within their new network, it won't jump down any other mode as with rogers, and 2: its still Bell...unless they "turned on" a new customer service department as well, I don't see any greater advantage
  • I just signed up for the iPhone from Bell. Got the 80 plan which is 400 minutes and 2GB data. Really like the nation fab 5.
    I have had 2 occasion where I have had lost service. One was last weekend in Pembroke (couldn't access the web).
    This weekend while at Shirley's Bay /Rifle Road area I had a "No Service" come up on my iPhone. No web and no phone calls. I have not had this problem with a regular cellphone in that area of the city, ever.
    What I did was drive up to Carling toward Grandview and finally got the service back. Then I drove back to the location where I had the "No Service" displayed on my iPhone. This time I had service. Weird. Not sure what happened and why the "No Service" message came up.
  • One other thing to add. I was in need to call CAA the other day. With my regular cellphone I just dial *222 (CAA). Didn't work on my new Bell Mobility iPhone.
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