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Jamie Starke

I develop for my career, but I also develop for fun, and whenever I think it can solve a problem I'm having. This has lead me to create side projects, such as Rental Map and BusTimes, among others.

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In my last post, I told you about my year without a voice plan, and all of the Phone Apps that I tried out along the way. In this post, I’m going to give guidance in picking out a data plan.

The Plans

Last year, when I was considering dropping to Data-only, I came across a post by one of my previous professors, which outlined how to find the best data plan for you. It had a great analysis, but when I was looking to do the same thing for my wife, it was a little out of date. So I figured I could perform the same analysis with the current data plans.

Flex plans

(Up to date as of October 4th)

Flex plans are great, because they adjust what you pay, based on how much you use. Finding the right one for you will really depend on what your specific usage normally is.

Carrier <= 10 MB <= 100 MB <= 150 MB <= 200 MB <= 500 MB <= 1GB <= 2 GB <= 5 GB
Bell $5         $20   $40
Telus $5     $15   $25 $35 $45
Rogers $5 $10     $20     $40
Virgin $5         $20   $40
Fido     $10     $25   $35

If this is a lot to take in at once, perhaps these two graphics will help you understand it a little better.

Graph of carrier data plans under 500 MB

Graph of carrier data plans up to 5 GB

What it means

What will be the best deal depends where your data usage usually falls.

  • 10 MB or less: Rogers, Bell, Telus or Virgin ($5)
  • Between 10 MB and 100 MB: Rogers or Fido ($10)
  • Between 100 MB and 150 MB: Fido ($10)
  • Between 150 MB and 200 MB: Telus ($15)
  • Between 200 MB and 500 MB: Bell, Virgin, or Rogers ($20)
  • Between 500 MB and 1 GB: Bell or Virgin ($20)
  • Between 1 GB and 2 GB: Telus or Fido ($35)
  • Between 2 GB and 5 GB: Fido ($35)

My Conclusion

Although I have a Telus tablet plan at the moment, I felt like they weren’t as good a deal anymore, and that Fido seemed good. But I wanted to have some more empirical certainty. So I took my last 12 months of data usage (past behaviour is a good predictor of future behaviour), and determined what I would have been charged each month by each carrier, then computed the average. Here’s what I found.

What it would cost me each month with each carrier, based on my actual usage, and the average cost show at the bottom.

One important note from this, if I only took the average of my data usage over the last month, and then look which plan I fell into, it would have suggested Telus, which as the data shows, based on the actual usage and changes, would have cost me $3.33 cents more per month.

Analyze your own usage

By the way, if you find the above table interesting, you can try it out with your own usage data on my Data Plan Optimizer.

Final Notes

If you’re like me, and you find that you don’t use Voice or Text messaging very frequently, I’m working on an inexpensive alternative, where you would be charged a small monthly fee (I’m looking into how low it could be), and for your usage. If you’re interested in hearing more, or potentially checking it out, join the mailing list, and I’ll send more details as they solidify.