News and views on the Canadian telecom industry, and tips and tricks for saving on your cell phone bill.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another Smart Move by Mobilicity

I've noticed that in this blog's infancy, entries have had a decidedly "watch out Rogers/Bell/Telus, the little guys are coming" feel. Well I'm here to continue that trend, and once again applaud an offensive move by one of the "Small Three" to attempt take the industry incumbents down a notch. This time I must give "Big Ups" to Mobilicty, as it was recently announced that they are launching global roaming services ( Before I move on I'd like to first preface my remarks by saying that I don't feel very positive about Mobilicity overall. I can understand their lacking hardware selection, desire to not heavily subsidize high-end smartphone purchases for their customers, and their lack of strong network coverage. I understand these strategies, because they are a relatively small firm that must fight tooth-and-nail to stay profitable in a shockingly competitive industry. But just because I understand these strategies DOES NOT mean I would support them as a customer. I would much rather go with a provider who will give me a wider choice of better phones, and the poor network coverage of Mobilicity is really a deal-breaker in my opinion. And to top it all off this must be the most blatantly banal Canadian telecom company out there. They're like the Canadian Telecom world's "The American" (that movie with George Clooney that's all like, "hey look at me I'm super artsy and contemplative and introspective and junk. And too freaking bad to any paying audience member who wants to see something happen other than an old dude exercise and sip coffee. That's just not how I get down". Although that movie did have some sweet sex scenes. Mobilicity is about as sexy as Rosie O'Donnell *shudder*)! Soooooooo boring. Do something exciting for once, rather than making every safe play in the book and doing your best to step in Wind's footsteps. Sure, they're offering free calls to India for Diwali (November 4th to 7th - Don't forget to buy some new utensils on Dhanwantari Triodasi!) which is pretty cool, but their name is still the combination of "mobile" and "city" which is pretty unforgivably lame. That's really, really, really dumb and I cringe at the juvenile naming effort...Although you've got to give them credit for truth in branding, as the only place you can be "mobile" if you're with Mobilicity is in the heart of the city. Do you live in the suburbs and use mobilicity? Better get yourself a landline too you poor reception-less schmuck.

But annnyyyywwwwaaaayyyy, from that slightly over-the-top rant you can tell I'm not the hugest fan of Mobilicity. Which is why I was so surprised when I read the aforementioned news story and couldn't help but be impressed with the move. It will no doubt cause a splash in the industry, please their customers greatly, and once again cause Rogers, Bell, Telus, and Fido to ready themselves for kissing some customers goodbye. Although in Bell's case their goodbyes would be bereft of kisses and likely consist of a slap in the face, an unscrupulous overcharge, and a cry of "don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!" I'm just saying....

What makes this Mobilicity move so appealing is how it fills a hole in their service while emphasizing one of their key customer benefits. It's as if Mobilicity's executives all came together in a meeting and asked, "alright, so we compete by trying to be the cheapest, but most people couldn't care less about us because our coverage is so limited, so what can we do?" In response to this quandary they ended up increasing their network coverage in a remarkably cost-friendly way. With this new global roaming service, Mobilicity customers can now make calls from over 60 countries, which wasn't previously possible. That sounds pretty appealing to me, especially if I travel often on business and must use my phone. It sounds even better when the cost of roaming in the US is priced competitively at only .25 cents per minute. Not bad at all. Outside of the US and Canada, Mobilicity will charge $3.25/minute for voice roaming and $15 per Megabyte of data. That's not great, but relative to other providers it's not bad either. However, what really makes this new service stand out in my view is that the roaming services will be offered EXCLUSIVELY on a prepaid basis. That means no longer will you cross the border or enter a strangely located "roaming zone" and make/take a call or, god forbid, forget to turn off your data connection and be charged exorbitant fees without realizing what you've done. When I was in University I used to take the train home from Montreal to Toronto, which passed through an inexplicable US Roaming Zone around the Quebec-Ontario border. And as luck would have it my mother would more often than not call around that time to see what time I'd be home, what I wanted her to pick up at the grocery store, and how my day was going. Then I'd get a ridiculous phone bill from Rogers saying that I made a 15 minute call while in the States. That really, really sucked. So I guess the downside for Mobilicity customers is that you can't use your phone when roaming internationally if you don't buy one of these packages, but the HUGE upside is that astronomical "sneaky bills" will be a thing of the past.

Plus, with this whole "MyWallet" account feature, Mobilicity customers who expect to be traveling in the near future can just put some roaming money aside, and not worry about being massively overcharged when they forget to buy a specific roaming package just prior to departing. I like to think of it as a protective suit of armour against unfair roaming charges...well actually that's a pretty crappy analogy, but you get the point. Either way you look at it, this is a step in the right direction for Mobilicity. I'm sure as heck not about to jump on their service bandwagon, but I'll certainly give them points for a savvy strategic move. They helped relieve the detriments of one of their core weaknesses (lack of network coverage and international calling), while playing into one of their biggest strengths (cost leadership). Good stuff Mobilicity. Gooood Stuff.

Now I must get back to kicking Coach Gorsline's butt in Call of Duty: Black Ops, so I will bid you all adieu. Cya later!


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