We have yet another no-contract, discount wireless service provider in Canada today, called Chatr, borne of Rogers. The new carrier is meeting younger players, like Wind, Mobilicity, and Public by offering cheap, metropolitan, no-contract, unlimited texting and calling. Sure, Rogers already has Fido, but it’s just prepaid carrier, nothing else. Roger’s Chatr takes the discount wireless service model and kicks it up a notch with unlimited this and that and affordable rate plans.
Chatr’s starting lineup includes the Nokia 1661 candybar for $60, LG GB125R flip for $75, Nokia 2680 portrait slider for $95, and Samsung Gravity landscape slider for $130. As far as plans go, unlimited talk (including anywhere in the province) goes for $35/month, and unlimited talk and text across Canada is $45. Of course, all of that unlimited goodness only counts when you’re within defined zones, which currently include Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Ottawa.
So, how does Chatr stack up against the competition? Wind has a $35 plan that is also restricted to the province, but has the added benefit of free calling to other Wind zones across Canada. Chatr automatically includes Voicemail for $0.25/minute, which strikes me as a better deal than Wind’s $5/month, especially since it’s already included in Chatr’s $45/month plan. Mobilicity, on the other hand, includes not only voicemail, but also call forwarding, call waiting, and 3-way calling at the $35 mark. Public Mobile only throws that in after you sign up for the $40/month plan. All that being said, it seems like Mobilicity’s the king of the hill for now, depending on the details of your personal handset and plan preferences, as well as coverage. Go ahead and check out the Chatr site for specifics.
Rogers’ Redboard blog is a clear sign that they want customers to know that they can do the lovey-dovey conversation thing just like Wind, and now they have phones and plans to meet them competitively. It’ll still be awhile before Wind and the other players pose any kind of reasonable threat to the Big Three (especially with things like the iPhone 4 going to Rogers), but the fact that the little guys exerted enough force to get one of the big carriers to play on their terms can certainly be counted as something of a victory. In fact, Wind seems pretty happy about Chatr’s launch on that basis.
Canadian wireless sure is getting interesting these days. We’ve got four relatively new players (Chatr, Wind, Mobilicity, and Public) trying to pick low-hanging fruit with new, simple plans, a few regional carriers that have staked their claim, like MTS and SaskTel, then you have the big boys (Rogers, Telus, and Bell), and their respective prepaid underlings (Fido, Koodo, and Virgin Mobile). One might even say it’s getting a little crowded, eh?