I Switched to Public Mobile

After my wireless provider, Eastlink Wireless, decided that it would only support phones purchased from it, I went looking for a new wireless provider.

My first quandary was that Eastlink’s pricing–$40 per line per month, including 3GB of shared data–was hard to beat; indeed, none of the major providers (Bell, Telus, Rogers) nor their discount brands (Virgin, Koodo, Fido) could come close.

Then I happened upon another Telus discount brand, Public Mobile, that I’d never heard of before. It’s an interesting concept: completely self-service, no contracts, no call centre support, and 100% “bring your own device.”

As I reckoned I could do without a call centre, and bringing my own device was the point of the switch, I dug deeper and found that Public Mobile has a $40 per line per month plan which includes 4.5GB of 3G data (you can pay more for LTE data, but I never do anything bandwidth-intensive while not connected to wifi, so I didn’t need that).

Convinced this was a viable way forward, I ordered up a couple of SIM cards, one for me and one for Catherine, and they arrived in the mail four days later.

Today I finally got around to activating the service on my phone, which turned out to be relatively simple: from the Public Mobile self-service site I entered the SIM card number, the phone number I wanted to port, my name and address, and my credit card information (I set up “auto-pay,” which is a pre-paid service that bills automatically every month). The self-service site is a little bit 2005 in its usability and aesthetics, but it all appeared to work as intended.

The only confused part of the switch-over was that although the SIM card got activated immediately (I just needed to reboot my phone to do the switch), there was a delay in porting my number, meaning that I could make outbound calls but not immediately receive inbound ones. I worked around this by sticking my Eastlink SIM back in the phone until the port happened. In the end the delay was only about 30 minutes.

For those of you keeping track, Public Mobile will be my fifth wireless provider: I started out with Island Tel Mobility back in the day, then moved to Rogers, then Virgin Mobile, then Eastlink.

I report back on how things go.

Public Mobile SIM Card Package


Susan White's picture
Susan White on July 5, 2018 - 19:19 Permalink

Looking forward to any updates you post about Public's service. I currently pay $45/month with Virgin and that only includes 100MB of data! Not much you can do with that so needless to say I'll be switching when my contract is up in November.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on July 5, 2018 - 19:41 Permalink

One weird thing so far: I don’t seem to be able to receive “one time password” codes from Instagram or Twitter by SMS.

Martin Cathrae's picture
Martin Cathrae on July 5, 2018 - 20:41 Permalink

That is odd. So without a help line to call, how do you resolve that issue?

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on July 5, 2018 - 21:23 Permalink

Public Mobile does have a rather active customer forum, and from what I’ve been and to glean there, and elsewhere, this likely has something to do with my porting my number from Eastlink, but some sort of routing table somewhere up the wire not having yet been updated.

But not being able to call someone about this is certainly a drawback.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on July 13, 2018 - 14:12 Permalink

Update: Earlier this week I experienced a spate of very poor call quality when calling Catherine’s phone from mine; that, added to the issue of Public Mobile seemingly not supporting one-time password shortcodes for Twitter and Instagram (since solved) had me regretting my decision to abandon Eastlink, so I contacted Eastlink sales to inquire about porting back.

I was told that, now that my account was dormant, the only way back in would be to purchase a new VoLTE-certified phone from Eastlink; otherwise, they don’t want me back as a customer. Which only further cemented my decision to leave them behind.

I’ll keep monitoring call quality to see if it becomes a persistent issue.

bryson's picture
bryson on August 3, 2018 - 11:50 Permalink

Sounds interesting. I've been with Rogers for several years. I pay $55/month, taxes in. Includes unlimited long distance.

Ron Walsh's picture
Ron Walsh on November 6, 2018 - 15:31 Permalink

Peter, are you still happy with Public Mobile? Apparently I can purchase the sim at Walmart. Any downside?

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on November 6, 2018 - 16:26 Permalink

I’m still a Public Mobile customer, so that’s something.

But some caveats:

  1. It truly is self-service. There is no number to call if something goes wrong, or if your billing doesn’t work properly, or for anything else. Your only recourse is the forums on the company’s website, forums that, although not completely useless, are a pretty large haystack when you have a problematic needle.
  2. My credit card expiration date arrive last month and rather than warning me about this in advance so that I could update my “auto-pay” settings, Public Mobile’s systems automatically terminated our service until I updated the card. Once I updated the card, all was well, but watch out for this.
  3. Public Mobile uses the Telus mobile network and that network is, in my experience over recent months, not as strong on PEI as Eastlink’s (which is where I was before). There are many more “no service” communities than I was used to, and the signal doesn’t seem to penetrate buildings as well as Eastlink’s.
  4. See also this post on Clark MacLeod’s blog.

Public Mobile’s plans remain among the most affordable of any carrier, which is why I put up with all of the above, or at least have so far.

But caveat emptor. And thanks for asking.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on January 31, 2019 - 21:09 Permalink

Update in January 2019: life on Public Mobile has been pleasantly uneventful since November. Call quality issues have not reoccured, and billing has been straightforward.