Having a Cell phone while you’re backpacking across Canada can be extremely helpful. Whether you’re booking a hostel ahead of time, calling a tour company, or just sending a text back home letting your family know you’re still alive, a cell phone can make life on the road a lot more simple. However, Canada’s cell phone networks may differ from the ones you’re accustom to at home. There are two types of networks found within Canada. GSM, and CDMA, both of which operate in the 800, 850, and 1900 MHz frequency range. Should you decide to bring your foreign cell phone to Canada, there is a chance it may not work on the Canadian Cell Phone networks.
The cell phone providers will vary depending on where you decide to begin your travels. Below is a list of the most used carriers in Canada.
Rogers / Fido-Microcell: Ontario & Quebec (GSM)
Bell Mobility: Ontario & Quebec (CDMA)
Telus Mobility: Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec (CDMA)
Sprint Canada: Ontario, Quebec (GSM or CDMA depending on the region)
Aliant: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, and Newfoundland & Labrador (CDMA)
SaskTel: Saskatchewan (CDMA
Virgin Mobile: Ontario (CDMA-PCS)
For those who aren’t familiar with CDMA and GSM the main thing you should know is CDMA does NOT use SIM cards, whereas GSM does use SIM Cards. If you are going to bring your phone from your home country to Canada, be sure to find out:
1. The Frequency of your phone
2. If your phone is unlocked to be used on any carrier
3. If your phone uses a SIM card or not.
If your phone isn’t able to use the 800, 850, and 1900 MHz frequency range, then it is pretty likely the phone won’t work at all once you get into Canada. Unlike in Europe, it is pretty hard to find places that will unlock your phone in North America. I would highly reccommend you consider getting this done while you’re still in your home country. If your phone is already unlocked, and has the ability to read the proper frequencies, all you need to do is buy a SIM card (approximately $20) from any GSM provider, plug it into your phone and you should be well on your way.
Once you have your cell phone activated, remember to use Mobile i backpack Canada and have all the Canadian Travel Information at your fingertips.