Phone Providers in Canada: How to Choose the Best

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Updated August 3, 2023

Rogers, Bell and Telus are the 3 network operators that own and operate nationwide telecom networks in Canada.

They are known as the Big 3 because approximately 89% of Canadians mobile phone users subscribe to one of these operators or one of their subsidiary brands.

The remaining 11% are subscribed to smaller regional network operators and resellers that sell access to the national carriers’ networks by marketing to certain demographics (eg. seniors).

The Big 3 offer phone plans under their own brand name, as well as at least 2 subsidiary “flanker” brands each such as Fido, Virgin, Koodo, and Public Mobile. These sibling brands all connect to the same, nationwide network owned and operated by their parent company.

Other providers that own and operate their own networks include Freedom Mobile – which has coverage in urban areas across Canada – and regional providers SaskTel in Saskatchewan and Quebecor (Videotron) in Quebec and Ottawa. Plan prices are actually cheaper in these regions due to the added competition of a 4th provider.

Due to this market concentration, there is limited competition, causing Canadian phone plans to be some of the most expensive in the world.

While there are ## providers in Canada (see the complete list) none are fully independent of the three national networks: Bell, Rogers and Telus.

Phone provider brands in Canada

  • Tier 1 – Full Service: Most expensive plans provide access to the fastest 5G networks, the latest features like “unlimited” data and decent customer service.
  • Tier 2 – Mid-level: Mid-range priced options that are best for financing a brand new phone
  • Tier 3 – Discount: Lower priced options that are best for prepaid (pay-as-you-go) bring your own phone plans. 100% digital self-serve accounts and chat or ticket-based customer services only. Data speeds may be throttled.
  • Regional: Great prices and feature options, but only available if you live in Saskatchewan or Quebec, the Maritimes or spend all of your time in cities.

Bell, Telus and Rogers’ 4G LTE networks’ coverage reaches 99% and 97% of the population of Canada, respectively. That same coverage is offered by their subsidiary brands (data speeds are limited in some cases, but reception is not), so you’ll have strong coverage with all of these companies unless you live or frequently travel to very rural or remote areas, in which case you should check with the provider about their coverage in that area.

Each tier is targeted at a different different type of customer, but the options in each tier typically provide almost identical plans at almost identical prices with only small differences in features and reward structures. When one lowers its prices or adds additional features, the others are usually quick to follow suit.

For example, Koodo was the first to offer Canada-wide plans on July 21, 2011 and they were quickly mimicked by their closest competitors. Virgin initially offered long distance as a $10 add-on on September 7, 2011, but reduced this fee to $5 about a week later on September 16, and removed it altogether on October 4.

The Competition Bureau has stated that Canada’s wireless industry is highly susceptible to price coordination and that it is likely that coordinated behaviour between the Big 3 exists.

Network sharing and wholesale agreements

No single mobile network operator covers the entire country. They all have agreements with each other to share networks or to pay a wholesale rate for access.

For example, Bell Mobility and Telus Mobility have a reciprocal network sharing agreement forming what is referred to as multi-operator core network (MOCN) to provide a common, Canada-wide radio network to the customer.

Bell builds most of its towers in the East of Canada and lets Telus use them, while Telus builds most of its towers in the West of Canada, letting Bell use those. This is not the same as a roaming arrangement, where the radio networks would be separate.

All phone providers in Canada

The following is a list of all phone providers sorted by the network they use. Major network operators have been bolded.

CompanyNetworkTypeSIM CardCoverageLocations
Bell MobilityBellOperatorLinkMapFind a Store
Lucky MobileBellLight MVNOLinkMapFind a Store
Virgin MobileBellLight MVNOLinkMapFind a Store
Bell MTSBellLight MVNOLinkMapFind a Store
Execulink MobilityBellLight MVNO MapFind a Store
PC MobileBellLight MVNO MapFind a Store
Rogers WirelessRogersOperatorLinkMapFind a Store
Chatr MobileRogersLight MVNOLinkMapFind a Store
CityfoneRogersLight MVNOLinkMapFind a Store
Fido MobileRogersLight MVNO MapFind a Store
Primus WirelessRogersLight MVNO MapFind a Store
SimplyConnectRogersLight MVNO MapFind a Store
Zoomer WirelessRogersLight MVNO MapFind a Store
7-Eleven Speak Out WirelessRogersLight MVNOLinkMapContact
good2go Mobile CanadaRogersLight MVNO  Find a Store
Petro-Canada MobilityRogersLight MVNO MapFind a Store
Telus MobilityTelusOperatorLinkMapFind a Store
Koodo MobileTelusLight MVNOLinkMapFind a Store
Public MobileTelusLight MVNOLinkMapFind a Store
DCI WirelessTelusLight MVNO MapContact
Freedom MobileFreedom MobileOperator MapFind a Store
Eastlink WirelessEastlinkOperator MapFind a Store
SaskTel MobilitySasktelOperator MapFind a Store
Vidéotron MobileVidéotron/RogersOperator MapFind a Store
Fizz MobileVidéotron/RogersLight MVNOLinkMapFind a Store
Ice WirelessIristelOperator MapFind a Store
K-Net MobileKeewaytinook OkimakanakOperator MapFind a Store
Sogetel MobilitéSogetelOperator  Find a Store
SSi Mobile/QiniqSSi MicroOperator MapFind a Store
TbayTel MobilityTbaytelOperator MapFind a Store
TNW WirelessTNW NetworksOperator MapFind a Store
Xplore MobileXplornetOperator MapFind a Store

Who owns each phone provider?

ownership structure in Canada. The chart is to educate Canadians around how concentrated our grocery industry is, and how one company is more than just one banner.



Parent CompanyBrands and subsidiariesCoverage across Canada
BCE Inc.Bell Mobility, Lucky Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Bell MTSLTE: 97%, HSPA+: 98%
Rogers CommunicationsRogers Wireless, Chatr Mobile, Fido Mobile, Cityfone, Primus Wireless, SimplyConnect, Zoomer WirelessLTE: 96%, HSPA+: 98%, GSM: 97%
Telus CorporationTelus Mobility, Koodo Mobile, Public MobileLTE: 97%, HSPA+: 98%
EastlinkEastlink WirelessAtlantic Canada and Northeastern Ontario
Shaw CommunicationsFreedom MobileLTE: Toronto, Ottawa, London, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, HSPA+: 98%
IristelIce WirelessNorthwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon
Keewaytinook OkimakanakK-Net MobileNorthern Ontario
SaskTelSaskTel MobilityLTE/ HSPA+ (Saskatchewan): 99%
SSi MicroSSi Mobile/QiniqNorthwest Territories, Nunavut
TbaytelTbaytelNorthwestern Ontario
TNW NetworksTNW WirelessNorthwestern British Columbia and Yukon
QuébecorVidéotron Mobile, Fizz MobileQuébec and Ottawa
XplornetXplore MobileRural areas in all provinces

Full-Service: Telus vs Bell vs Rogers

The Big 3 parent companies of the flanker brands offer their own range of full-service postpaid and prepaid BYO phone plans that are marketed primarily to service-focused consumers who value convenience and having the premium option. Their plans and features are often nearly identical and are priced very similarly.

Their plans are the most expensive, but they offer the largest amounts of data – 25 to 100 GB and features like unlimited international texting.


  • Network overage is just as good
  • Fastest data speeds: They are the only providers who offer access to the 5G/5G+ networks
  • Lots of (“unlimited”) data: They are the only providers who offer “unlimited” data. After reaching your data limit, download and upload speeds are typically limited to 512 Kbps. Video streaming is available at a maximum 480p and mobile hotspots are disabled.
  • Family plans: Get discounts for each additional family member you add to your account and each of those lines can share from the same pool of monthly data.
  • New device financing: With a plan, you can buy the latest smartphone for $0 down and 0% APR and pay it off over 24 months.
  • Phone customer service: Most personal customer support with phone, in-store, social media or chat options


  • Most expensive: As of March 2023, all three companies are offering 50 GB at speeds up to 1 Gbps with “unlimited” shareable data and unlimited international texting for $95 per month on a BYO device. If you buy a phone, a portion of its price is spread out evenly over the course of a 24 months plan and the rest can either be paid off, or returned in good condition.
  • Prepaid plans: aren’t great when compared

Unless you:

  • Are buying for a whole family and want to share data
  • Need huge amounts of data while on the go for hotspotting while you travel or work remotely
  • Need 5G speeds (average expected speeds of 80 to 556 Mbps and a theoretical peak of 1.7 Gbps) for streaming 4K video or live/game streaming

much better deals can found elsewhere.

Mid-level: Koodo vs Fido vs Virgin

These mid-level brands offer postpaid and prepaid plans marketed primarily to younger customers with their happy, fun and vibrant branding. Again, their plans and features are often nearly identical and are priced very similarly. Compared to Tier 1 providers, you’ll get one tenth the data for around half the cost per month.

  • Postpaid: As of March 2023, for $45 per month BYOP, the three providers are offering unlimited Canada-wide texting, plus:
    • Koodo: 6GB, unlimited Canada-wide calling and international texting
    • Fido: 6GB, unlimited international texting, unlimited calling only between subscribers on same account
    • Virgin: 6GB, unlimited Canada-wide calling
  • Prepaid: As of March 2023, for $40 per month the three providers are offering unlimited Canada-wide talk & international texting, plus:
    • Koodo: 2.5GB at 4G speed, or 5GB of 3G speed (plus 2GB bonus for auto-pay)
    • Fido: 2.5GB
    • Virgin: 2.5GB (plus 0.5GB bonus for auto-pay)

Unless you are looking to finance a new or used phone, better deals are found with the Tier 3 providers.


  • Device financing: new or certified pre-owned phones for $0 to little down and 0% APR and pay it off over the course of 24 months.


  • Throttled data speeds: They do not provide access to 5G, and
    • Koodo – 4G throttled at 100 Mbps
    • Fido – 4G throttled at 150 Mbps
    • Virgin – 4G LTE throttled at 150 Mbps
  • Data overage fees: up to

Read our Koodo Mobile review.

Who owns who?

Each one of these brands is owned by one of the Big 3:

  • Virgin Plus is owned by Bell
  • Fido is owned by Rogers
  • Koodo Mobile is owned by Telus

Discount: Public vs Lucky vs Chatr

These discount brands offer affordable prepaid plans that are marketed primarily to price-focused consumers. As with the the other tiers, their plans and features are often nearly identical and are priced very similarly.

Compared to Tier 1 providers, you’ll get one tenth the data for around half the price per month.

This is where you bring your phone if you own it outright.

  • As of March 2023, for $40 per month the three providers are offering unlimited Canada-wide talk & international texting, plus:
    • Public: 15GB, unlimited Canada-wide calling and international texting
    • Fido: 6GB, unlimited international texting, unlimited calling only between subscribers on same account
    • Virgin: 6GB, unlimited Canada-wide calling


  • Network overage is just as good
  • Low cost:


  • 100% self-serve:
  • No device financing: However, you can get an inspected and tested used phone from Orchard or Recycell.

Read our Public Mobile review.

Who owns who?

Each one of these brands is owned by one of the Big 3:

  • Lucky Mobile is owned by Bell
  • Chatr Mobile is owned by Rogers
  • Public Mobile is owned by Telus

Regional providers

Regional providers own and operate networks that cover a limited area and rely on partnerships with the Big 3 national service providers to provide roaming coverage for their customers when they leave their service area and travel across Canada.

Freedom Mobile (including Shaw Mobile)


Lüm Mobile




Frequently asked questions

What is an mobile virtual network operator (MVNO)?

An MVNO is provider of wireless communications services that does not own the underlying infrastructure used to provide services to it’s customers. It enters into agreements with network operators such as Rogers, Bell or Telus to buy bulk network services at wholesale rates and then resells that access to customers in the service territory with their own plans, prices and customer service.

In contrast, network operators own, operate and maintain their own equipment, facilities and rights to the wireless spectrum required to provide cellular service to customers.

Full MVNOs own or operate their own network software (core network) and have their own facilities to package and provide customer service for their mobile services.

Light MVNOs (also known as thin MVNOs or branded resellers) only handle marketing, billing and payments, call centres and retail stores. They do not own or operate their own network software (core network) or physical networks. Resellers are even less involved and may only do marketing, relying on the network operator to package, market, bill, and deliver mobile services.

Regional providers are network operators that own and operate their own transmission equipment and facilities, but rely on partnerships with the national network operators to connect their customers when they travel outside their service territory.

Are all phone providers in Canada Canadian?

In Canada, every major phone, internet and television provider is Canadian. A few foreign companies also offer services to a handful of customers, but they are all ultimately dependent on accessing Canadian firms’ infrastructure.

Since 1993, the Telecommunications Act has required that a carrier must be incorporated in Canada, 80% of its board of directors must be Canadian, 80% of its voting shares must be owned by Canadians, and it must not be otherwise controlled by foreign interests.

Corporations investing in the operating carrier (holding companies) are considered to be Canadian if 66.67% of voting shares of that corporation are held by Canadians and it is not otherwise controlled in fact by non-Canadians.

How to submit a complaint about your phone service?

If you have issues with your telecom provider, you can submit a complaint to either the CCTS or the CRTC, depending on what the issue is.

Billing, contracts or service quality

Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS), is the national, independent agency that helps resolve consumer complaints about telecom services. Established in 2007, it is a not-for-profit corporation and industry-funded organization.

All service providers are required to help fund its operations. Each participant pays a fee for each complaint accepted by the CCTS. Providers with annual revenues are greater than $10 million also pay an annual fee proportionate to their share of the total eligible Canadian telecommunications revenues. Participants with less than $10 million of annual revenues currently pay a nominal annual fee of $100.

You can submit a complaint to CCTS here.

CCTS complaints can get providers to actually do something. Last year due to a Rogers fail, I lost Internet for a month, after complaints went nowhere, I filed a CCTS complaint. Their highest office (I think it was the office of the CEO, President or something like that) reached out back to me and offered me several months free Internet as compensation of the lack of Internet. This is also on top of the bill credit they offered already.

Accessibility, keeping your phone number or service unavailable

All service providers in Canada are regulated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The CRTC has been blamed by some critics for lack of competition in the industry and concentration of subscribers to only large 3 national carriers.

The CRTC deals with complaints about accessibility and service availability. For example, if you ask for your phone bill in Braille, and your phone company doesn’t provide it, contact the company again.

You can submit a complaint to the CRTC here.

Over to you

What phone provider are you currently with? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

About the author

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Alex Wideman
Alex Wideman is a consumer rights advocate, serial entrepreneur and the editor-in-chief of Cansumer. He has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Queen's University. He is passionate about helping others save time and money and has been creating consumer-focused online resources for over 10 years. More about Cansumer Read more

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