The big three wireless service providers in Canada are Bell, Rogers and Telus.  Unlike other providers around the world, none of these providers offer to sell the iPad or iPad 2 product—only the connection.  However, the company does offer Micro SIM cards for iPad devices.

What Options Bell, Rogers and Telus Offer

The Basics

Company Bell Telus Rogers
Price Range $15-$45 $20-30 $15-35
Data Limits 250MB-5GB 500MB-5GB 250MB-5GB
Wi-Fi yes Yes with some plans Yes with some plans
Additional Features Tablet TV, Flex Plans Flex data plans, tethering

Bell offers service without the necessity of a long-term contract.  The plan renews every 30 days in terms of minutes.  The company does provide free and unlimited access to WI-FI connectivity at any Bell hotspot location.  One of the best places for hotspots is the coffee-crazy Starbucks restaurant.  Bell’s monthly prices for service range from $15 per month to $45 per month.  Users can start with a minimal 250MB and WI-FI connectivity or increase it to 5GB plus WI-FI.

The priciest option also includes Tablet TV, which is a superfast data plan that allows users easy access to TV shows, news, weather and other “live” video updates.  They also offer a Tablet Flex plan for customers who cannot predict how much they will use their iPad in a given month.

Rogers offers a variety of plans for iPad devices including sharing plans and flexible contracts.  All iPads will connect to the Rogers 3.5G wireless network, and do require micro SIMs, which the company does sell.  Rogers does not require a long-term contract.  A 250MB WI-FI connection costs $15 per month, while a massive 5GB connection with WI-FI costs $35.

An alternative is to order the Flex Rate data plan, which automatically adjusts based on your actual usage.  This plan starts at $20 per month plus applicable fees.  If you exceed 500MB per month, instead of being charged $20, you are charged $35.  If you exceed 5GB, you are charged an additional two cents per MB.  Another convenient feature about the Rogers plan is that you can share your data with other mobile devices.  This company has over eight million customers.

Telus offers data plans from 500MB ($20) to 5GB ($30).  Additional data beyond 500MB will be charged at five cents per MB.  However, 5GB is the maximum limit allowed per month.  The company has over five million customers.

Bell, Rogers and Telus Compared

MyPad3G.com suggests that there are no short use plans between all the companies; therefore, customers have to “pay per month”, indicating that the total amount of data you anticipate using will determine your provider.  Just a cursory glance shows that Rogers has the most variety among its data plans, offering 250MB, 500MB, and 5GB for standard prices.  Rogers ties with Bell for the least expensive data plan.  Telus obviously suffers from a lack of variety, though its prices are largely comparable to its competitors.  According to the MyPad3G website, most individual users prefer Rogers.

However, the iPadinCanada.ca website brought some important issues to light.  Its editors stated that Bell and Telus have newer networks for 3G technology, and thus are not as “saturated as Rogers.”  One distinct advantage that Rogers had was that its customers could activate their data plans on the iPad unit itself, whereas the other providers required calling in and placing an order.

Consider Wi-Fi Availability

While 5GB should be more than enough data even for heavy users, there will be many who opt for smaller data plans.  Be wary, especially with Telus, however, of exceeding your plan limits.  One thing that many will want to take into consideration when choosing a carrier is the availability of Wi-Fi hotspots in their area.  Unlimited Wi-Fi at select hotspots can be found with both Rogers and Bell, making them superior in this aspect, and the ability to download without impacting overall data limits while on these networks should absolutely be considered if you are a heavy data user.

The Editor’s Verdict

Of course, before making a decision you have to take your local Canadian province into consideration.  Rogers and Bell have a slight price advantage over Telus, especially given Telus’ GB limit that imposes fairly hefty fines for bandwidth in excess of this mark, though Rogers benefits from a 3.5G network.  Rogers’ technical advantage over Bell is relative to the fact that many individual users claim to see a higher quality of HD in Bell.

We give Rogers only a momentary advantage thanks to its unique Tablet TV and Tablet Flex plans, not to mention its far more user-friendly website.

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