Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Cost of Staying Connected

Note: This is going to be a long post (sorry) - and not very exciting - unless you're one of our geeky friends, in which case, you too, will be appalled at our internet "conditions" we'll be facing; but I wanted to share the research we've done on what kind of bill prices we're looking at for phone, internet, etc. So family and friends: appreciate the lengths we go to so we can stay connected to you! HA! :)

One of the things that we've been researching is how to stay connected after our move - I want to try to work it so that the minute we walk through the door of our house, we just need to plug in a phone and our computer and be connected. I've heard a few stories of it taking days/weeks to get things hooked up, and I don't want to be disconnected from our loved ones for that long - especially when they'll be anxious to know that we've arrived/settled in ok. We've been told that we absolutely must have a land line because it is much more reliable than a cell phone, and we will obviously need internet (How did the world survive without the internet? I remember tying up my parents' phone line for hours with our horribly slow dial-up....sigh, those were the days!)

Baker Lake is a fairly small community in the scheme of things, so we are unfortunately quite limited on options for providers for any sort of service. Jeff and I haven't had a home phone in years - our preference has been to use our cell phones because it's much more convenient for us. However, apparently the cell phone reception can be pretty spotty and unreliable, and I'd much rather have a connection where I know our family can always reach us. That being said, we are debating if we're going to sign up for cell phones at all once we're moved in. For the most part, we'll always be in an area that has a land line (work and home) so we can always use those - or we should theoretically be together. It would be nice - and weird - to be cell-free...something I haven't been for half my life! I'm horrible with my phone, it's glued to me at all times, and I text about 3987347 times a day...so we could chalk it up to yet another big life adjustment if we decide not to get phones. Plus, it'll be $100+/month that we'd be saving without them. That in itself is a selling point when we're trying to hunker down into savings-mode.

I believe home phone is only through NorthwesTel, which looks to be a branch of Bell. The prices don't seem horrible and I figure it will cost about $60/month or so after taxes and calling features like Call Display and Call Waiting. We could go totally old-school and not get any feature, at which point, it's only $32-ish plus tax. I'm not sure yet. However, where they get us is when they tack on the costs is for their "one time" fees to set-up the line: $31 to process the order...$34 to connect the line...$37 to come to the house. Since our house is newly built, the phone jacks are installed "for show" but not actually wired up. According to the site: "You are responsible for the costs of any installation, repair or maintenance work on the inside wiring of your residence. If requested, Northwestel will provide these services at current hourly rates."

So...our first bill just for home phone, not actually using it or anything, is looking to be pretty hefty. Long distance seems really expensive through them (30 cents/min) so I'm thinking that we're going to be stocking up on calling cards where they charge something like a dollar/hour. Friends and family, feel free to send us those too when you're planning care packages! ;)

The biggest hurdle we've found is the internet. We are used to high speeds, high caps and basically being connected all the time. It will be a shock to our systems to change to the available internet in the North - and not really having an (affordable) option to upgrade. With only two providers to Baker Lake that we've been able to find, it's a very limited market!

As a comparison, here is what we are looking at for what we can afford (there are other package options through NetKaster and Qiniq, but they are extremely expensive):

Provider: Cogeco (currently in Ontario)
Cost/month: $45-ish
Modem: Rental included in price
Download speed: 14 Mbps
Download cap: 80 GB/month

Provider: Netkaster (satellite internet through NorthwesTel)
Cost/month: $99.95
Modem: $499 with 12-month subscription or $799 no contract - includes modem and satellite dish
Download speed: 1 Mbps
Download cap: 55 Mb/hour

Provider: Qiniq
Cost/month: $80 + $50 one-time registration fee
Modem: $60 purchase 
Download speed: 1.5 Mbps
Download cap: 10 GB/month

We will likely go with Qiniq since it's a better offer than the Netkaster one - and actually, it's a new plan that they just introduced a couple of weeks ago for Nunavut residents - but it still pales in comparison to what we're currently used to. We thought we could keep our Netflix account, but with these caps and speeds - I think that's going to be a waste. Skype may also be a little choppy, but should be okay if we set it up to lower quality resolutions on the cam, etc.

So...it's possible to stay connected. It's just going to be a little different!
Seems to be the theme of this move so far.

- L


  1. I remember the days when you used to tie up your parents phone line. In fact I have an interesting quote on file.

    Hint: It involves your explicit feelings on Sprint as an ISP at the time. ;)

  2. Sprint was the devil.
    'Nuff said!

  3. If you want affordable cell, here's what you do. BEFORE coming heresign up with koodo. Why? Because the network is CDMA (oldschool technology). Koodo offers a cdma blackberry 8530 that WILL work here. Its a tab plan. No money upfront and each month 10% of your monthly bill goes toward paying the 150.00 tab.

    The plan. Get the canada-wide unlimited talk and text. $50.00/month. Emphasis was on getting the phone BEFORE you leave because koodo won't ship to a p.o. Box which is all there is up here. Like the U2 Song "where the streets have no names".

    1. How has it been since you moved up? I was just thinking about you the other day going through the blog comments...

      Did you get a land line too? How's the reception been? Spotty or consistent?

      Did you do anything about TV? We are debating buying a dish and receiver here and getting it installed up there but haven't made up our minds yet.