Public Mobile is a discount brand in Canada. It competes with other brands such as Bell’s Lucky Mobile, Rogers’ Chatr Mobile and Fido, Telus Koodo and others in the Canadian wireless carrier industry.
The company has redesigned and rebranded itself completely as a discount brand that lets you serve yourself from their buffet of features.
Public Mobile was born from the actions of the Federal Government of Canada. In a period when competition between wireless network providers was essential, Public Mobile joined the race by acquiring wireless spectrum in 2008. The company launched its operations in Toronto first before moving on to Montreal in 2010.
This move to Montreal was accompanied by the opening of numerous Public Mobile retail stores. The brand boomed and customers flocked to use their services in the first few years of operation. It seemed that Public Mobile would soon stand at the top of the communications business.
The trend of success did not last though. In 2013, Public Mobile came into conflict with the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association. The company also made the poor choice of having the majority of their shares being taken by private equity firms.
This decision was based on the premise that funds from such firms would be used as capital and this would facilitate further growth. But things didn’t end up as planned. The wireless carrier company was sold off by the end of 2013 to Telus and the cycle started all over again.
Public Mobile Overview
First of all, Public mobile is a discount brand in Canada.
The company was founded in 2010 and its headquarters is in Toronto, Canada.
Public mobile is owned and operated by Telus. Telus acquired Pubic Mobile in 2013. Now, Telus is one of the top 3 wireless companies in Canada along with Bell and Rogers. (in terms of subscribers and network quality, coverage)
Another thing to note here is that Public mobile uses and operates on the Telus network. It is an MVNO (Mobile virtual network operator).
Meaning, Public mobile as such does not own any cellphone towers and uses the network from Telus. So rest assured the signal strength and network quality of Telus is excellent and should likewise be for the Public mobile users.
Public Mobile Features
Public Mobile’s features that differentiate from other mobile carriers include:
Online Store: The most distinguishing feature of Public Mobile is that it operates completely online. The company has no physical stores and if you want to buy a SIM card from them, all you have to do is go online to the company site and place an order for it. Once you place an order, the card is delivered and you can simply activate it yourself, eliminating the need for the otherwise complicated and tiring process of sim card activation.
No Customer Support Number: Public Mobile took a daring step with this feature and I can only say it seems to work for them. The brand did away with the traditional customer support numbers and encourages customers to visit their webpage online to fix their problems. In place of customer support, there is an online community that will assist you with any problems that you might have had.
If your questions are not answered by the online community, then you have the option of submitting a ticket for a moderator to review your problem. Doing away with the traditional customer support system is part of what lets Public Mobile keep prices low and their services easily affordable.
No Subsidized Phones: Public Mobile does not sell any phones. The brand relies on you to buy an unlocked phone from the numerous retail stores available.
Once you have an unlocked phone you can use your Public Mobile SIM card on it and you are all set. This feature lets you avoid the need for contracts and no tabs. You get to decide how much you spend on a phone. Essentially you can buy a phone on a budget.
Helps you save more: Public Mobile’s “Ways to Save” lets you save as much as possible when using their services. Sometimes, the cost of your plan may go down to as low as $0 per month. There are not many brands with plans that let you go this low.
Also Public Mobile has no surprise bills thanks to its prepaid nature. The costs go even lower when you realize that there are no credit checks, no contracts and there’s no one trying to sell you a phone or a plan.
Public Mobile’s Network Coverage
Public Mobile operates on the same frequencies as Telus and Koodo. This is thanks to the fact that they all leverage on the Telus network.
Their operating frequencies are
LTE: 1700/2100 MHz (AWS)
LTE Advanced (LTE-a): 2600 MHz and 700 MHz
HSPA: 850 MHz and 1900 MHz frequencies
Here is where your unlocked phone comes in thanks to Public Mobile’s not selling phones.
The unlocked phone will let you use their services on the frequencies I mentioned above. Ensure that your unlocked phone can access LTE 4G bands as HSPA or 3G is slow for data usage purposes.
If you want to check if your phone is compatible with Public Mobile’s LTE 4G bands, then you can check out the company’s compatibility checker on their website here.
Thanks to leveraging on the Telus network Public Mobile is able to provide coverage all over the country. Public Mobile’s customers rarely report any issues which speak well of their network coverage strength. If you feel like checking out the coverage map then you can always check it out on the website here.
Public Mobile’s Cellphone Plans
Public Mobile originally offered two options for plans, Ready-Made Plans and Build Your Own Plans.
The Build Your Own Plan option was innovative as no other brand offered anything like it. It lets you design and customize the plans based on your lifestyle and needs.
Public Mobile no longer offers the Build your own plan feature. It now only offers Ready-made plans for its customers.
The Ready-Made plans changes feature based on the price that you pay.
$15 per month would get you 30 days of service, 100 minutes of talk time all over Canada, and unlimited incoming calls. You will also be able to send unlimited international texts and pictures with voicemail and call displays also available. There is an autopay bonus of 250 megabytes on the 3G network.
$25 per month would get you 30 days of service, unlimited talk time all over Canada, and are allowed to send unlimited international texts and pictures. Unlike the previous plan, you will get 500 MB worth of data to use on their 3G network. Voicemail, call display, and autopay bonus of another 500 MB data on their 3G network.
$30 per month, would get you 30 days of service and 1GB on their 4G network. There are no other features on this plan.
$35 per month, gets you 30 days of service, unlimited talk time all over Canada, and unlimited international texts and pictures. You also get 1 GB of data to use on their 3G network with voicemail and call display also available. There is also an autopay bonus of 500MB data available for use on their 3G network.
$40 per month gives you 30 days of service, unlimited talk time all over Canada, and unlimited international text and picture. 4.5 GB of data usage on the 3G network also comes with this plan as well as voicemail and call display features. You also get 500 MB worth of data to use on the 3G network when you autopay.
$50 per month, gives you 30 days of service, unlimited talk time all over Canada and the United States, and unlimited international text and picture. You also get 8 GB of data for use on their 3G network along with voicemail and call display services. There is an autopay bonus of 500 MB for use on the 3G network.
Public Mobile’s Ways to Save (Save more of your bill)
Earlier I mentioned how Public Mobile lets you save money and gets your costs as low as $0 each month thanks to their “Ways to Save” feature. This is one of their key features and it is what makes using their services very affordable.
Let’s analyze each of these ways to save here:
$2 Autopay: This is probably one of the easiest ways to save, that Public Mobile offers its customers. You only need to set up automatic payments of $2 per month using your credit card. If you don’t have a credit card, you can also use a visa card tied to your Public Mobile account.
$1 to $20 Community Contribution: In order to save using this method, you’ll be required to contribute to the Public Mobile forums. It might seem easy at first, but the rewards for your contributions depend on how well your contribution performs relative to the overall contributions made.
$1 per friend plus $10 one time fee: While this method is not as difficult as the previous method, it is not as easy as the $2 autopay. You get a one-time reward of $10 for referring a friend and receive a $1 payment for each month that a friend you referred uses Public Mobile. Each friend you refer is a discount on the price you have to pay for your selected plan.
$1 per month for your loyalty: This one’s truly straightforward and requires no additional effort on your part. After your first year using Public Mobile, you get $1 off your plan price for each month you stay active. After your second year, you get $2 off and $3 off after your 3rd year.
These plans are all good and dandy, but you must also remain in good standing with Public Mobile to earn rewards. This is aside from the terms and conditions that apply to use their services.
What Are The Roaming Charges With Public Mobile?
Public Mobile, being a discount carrier, does not have EasyRoam options that let you use your plans much as is from $7-$12 each day. You do have the option to pay for add-ons for talk, text, and data roaming.
The current add-ons for roaming in the United States are listed below:
US Talk, Text and Data: $20 for 10 days: This gives you unlimited talk, international text, and 250MB of data
US Talk and Text Bundle: $15 for 10 days this gives you just unlimited talk and international text
US Unlimited Talk: this goes for $8 for 10 days
US Unlimited International Text Only: this also goes for $8 for 10 days
US Data Only for 10 days: you can get 250MB data for $10, 500MB data for $15, 1GB data for $2
What Phones/Devices Can You Use Public Mobile On?
As I already mentioned, Public Mobile does not sell phones and you have to get an unlocked phone for yourself.
You can get a SIM card with a one-time payment of $10 and the sim cards are triple punched letting them work as standard SIM, micro-SIM, and nano-SIM. This means your sim can work with every kind of phone that uses a SIM.
You can easily tick iPhones on the list of phones that are Public Mobile compatible. Getting one from a supplier is the easiest way to go about getting a Public Mobile phone.
If you are looking for Android devices that are compatible, I have provided a list below.
Samsung Galaxy S9+
Samsung Galaxy S9
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Samsung Galaxy A8
Samsung Galaxy S8+
Samsung Galaxy S8
Samsung Galaxy A5
Samsung J3 Prime
Google Pixel 2 XL
Google Pixel 2
HUAWEI P20 Pro
LG Q Stylo +
LG Stylo 3 Plus
LG G7 ThinQ LG G6
LG X Power 3
LG X Power 2
Samsung XCover 4
Alcatel GO FLIP etc
Public Mobile vs. Others
When you compare Public Mobile with other subsidized mobile companies in Canada, you have a ton of options.
Rogers owns Fido, Chatr.
Bell owns Lucky Mobile
Telus owns Public Mobile, Koodo.
Now those are just a few of the subsidized companies I have mentioned. There are many more.
What is important here is to know that, whether it’s Fido, Koodo or Public Mobile all are MVNOs. Meaning you get the exact signal quality of the parent companies, Telus in this case. The experience is very similar to having a mobile phone with the Telus network.
There’s absolutely no difference other than this. The plans are cheaper on Public Mobile when compared to Telus. It’s just that the companies want to reach a wider audience and cater to different user needs, which they can’t do on the main brand, hence the subsidized plans and offers.
If you are living in bigger cities such as Toronto or Vancouver, whether you choose Lucky Mobile or Public Mobile it doesn’t really matter. The signal strength including basements should be excellent.
With Fido and Koodo you’ll get the latest and the greatest mobile phones at good monthly plans and discounts. Fido also has the home internet services which is extremely good. The plans start at just $35 for unlimited home use.
The only caveat is don’t ever choose Freedom Mobile if you live in the basement. the network is extremely bad.
You also have other options in virgin mobile which is good as well. Virgin uses the Bell network again. So the options are limitless really. Just pick the one which is good for you and move on.
Public Mobile is perfect for those who do not need physical customer support to use a brand’s services. Since most of their services and business are done online, there is little to no chance of ever coming face to face with customer support personnel. If you require face-to-face meetings then Public Mobile is not for you.
If you are also looking for a fast Data connection, Public Mobile’s 4G LTE coverage gives it an edge over competitors like Lucky Mobile and Chatr that only offer 3G coverage. Seeing as their 4G plans are easily affordable too makes using this network especially worth it.
The final clincher for me was their “Ways to Save” feature. This feature essentially cuts down costs for your carrier plans the longer you use it. The diversity of the options available means you can easily pick the one that most suits you.
If you like the content of this article and find it helpful, please share it on social media and help spread the word. Let me know your thoughts and comments in the comment box below.
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Sagar Sridhar is a personal finance blogger from Canada. His genuine passion for personal finance coupled with his unique style of writing is what stands out. Professionally, he is a computer engineer, agile certified and has a master’s degree in Project Management. His writing has been featured or quoted in the leading Canadian publications such as Credit Canada and many other personal finance publications. While he is juggling between his day job and blogging, he is the main author on this blog and has miles to go before making the final pit stop.