Prepaid Cell Phones Canada - Competition Has Grown!

This prepaid cell phones Canada section guessed it...dedicated to the Canadian prepaid wireless market.  Throughout this website, I've discussed just how far behind the rest of the world the U.S. is in terms of its maturity in the prepaid wireless space.  I've even mentioned that North America in general is behind countries like Europe, where prepaid is simply a way to pay, and doesn't have the negative connotation that exists in North America.

The prepaid cell phone plan content on this site has been largely dedicated to U.S. prepaid wireless plan comparison, however, the Canadian prepaid market ultimately also heated up, and it became worthy of a lot more attention!  Let's look at where the prepaid cell phones Canada wireless market has historically been, and what evolved that should prove to be exciting for those residing in Canada!

Prepaid Cell Phones Canada - The History!

While I could throw out a bunch of dates showing you how the Canadian carriers have evolved in their prepaid wireless plan offerings, I guarantee you that it would put you to sleep!  So let's simply sum it up by saying that prepaid had historically been an extremely small part of each of the major carrier's overall strategy.  Each carrier created (or acquired) a distinct prepaid brand.  Next to the logo is the carrier's general brand name.  Next to that is each company's no contract brand:

Bell Mobility Bell Mobility Solo
Telus Mobility Telus Mobility Telus Pay & Talk
Fido Rogers Wireless Changed from Rogers Prepaid to Fido following its acquisition of Microcell, and they started the chatr wireless brand that's currently in the market

None of these prepaid businesses really thrived despite undergoing occasional reinvention every few years.  Aside from chatr wireless, which was a more recent Rogers startup brand (at the time).  And that's not to say that the product and offerings weren't good; they were certainly respectable.  The issue has always been that there was a lack of investment and focus on developing prepaid as a viable business in favor of the more desirable postpaid business model.  Prior to Rogers purchasing it, Fido was the only notable standalone prepaid offering to speak of.  And it should be noted that there are arguments to be made that prepaid can actually be more profitable than postpaid, but that's a completely different topic.

Then Came Virgin Mobile Canada!

In 2007, Virgin Mobile expanded into Canada as the only true prepaid only offering, which gave them an advantage in terms of a dedicated focus on prepaid.  Virgin Mobile Canada did reasonably well, and even launched postpaid plans in 2008.  Though that could be seen as a disadvantage by taking focus away from the prepaid wireless business.  In May 2009, Bell Mobility acquired the rest of Virgin Mobile Canada for CAN$142 million (they previously owned 50%).  Bell continued to operate its legacy Solo brand, despite also having prepaid plans under the Bell brand.  In my opinion it was really a mess.  We ultimately saw Bell migrate its Solo customers to Bell Mobility, and it continues to operate Virgin Mobile Canada as a distinct brand.

Prepaid Cell Phones Canada - Competition Brewed!

Likely driven by the success of the prepaid wireless market in the U.S., which drove significant results in 2009, the Canadian market definitely aimed its sights on prepaid!  I think this largely has to do with the U.S. having shifted  from the negative stigma of prepaid wireless, to a focus on the No Contract Cell Phones positioning that people find so appealing.

So while the incumbent (i.e. existing) Canadian carriers scrambled to get organized around a refreshed prepaid wireless strategy, there were several completely new companies/brands that have launched in Canada.  These companies purchased wireless spectrum in Canada, and tried to shake up the market with some extremely competitive prepaid offerings!  Here are these  prepaid wireless providers, and what became of them.  Note how ALL of them were ultimately snatched up by the large carriers, effectively eliminating the benefit of long term competition outside of the incumbent providers.

Dave Wireless Dave Wireless Became Mobilicity, then purchased by Rogers & folded into chatr Wireless.

Public Mobile Public Mobile Still exists today under Telus.

Wind Mobile WIND Mobile
Became Freedom Mobile & is owned by Shaw Communications.
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