Monday, February 4, 2013

Cell Phones, Part 2

In our original post about cell phones, I mentioned that I have a Virgin phone that runs off the old CDMA network and works here in Nunavut. For the most part, the phone works pretty well - the reception is quite clear, texts are sent/received in a fairly timely manner and only during blizzards and such, does the service get lost. There are some oddities that occur occasionally - texts that show up a week or two after they were sent, or texts that are broken up into multiple parts and random parts are missing, etc. However, for the most part it's been fairly consistent and reliable and allows us to keep in regular contact with our friends and family.

The phone I have is on a monthly Canada-wide plan that allows me to talk/text unlimited (no pictures or anything fancy like that) for $60/month plus tax. I was able to transfer my 905 area code number from Ontario to the phone so when people from Ontario call us, it's free for them and neither parties get charged long distance. In all, we've been happy with our choice to go with Virgin since it provides us with the basic necessities that we needed to keep in touch.

Enter the confusion.

We started looking into getting an emergency phone for Jeff when he was out at the airport, or we were going to be traveling, etc. Since we didn't need it for an every day phone, we wanted to look at the least expensive option available, and decided to go with a pay-as-you-go phone. We were told that since my phone worked, we shouldn't have a problem going on a pay-as-you-go phone through Virgin as long as it was also on the CDMA network that my phone runs off of.

Before Christmas, we obtained a phone through Virgin that ran off the CDMA network and was a pay-as-you-go. Loaded up the minutes, set up the phone...nothing. There were full service bars but you couldn't actually receive or make a call.

A string of 40+ emails, plus phone calls with their technical support team as well as testing 2 separate phones (one being the exact model as mine), we are now waiting for a "return kit" so we can return everything to Virgin for a refund. The final response we got was "it's really iffy with phones/numbers - sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. Our pay-as-you-go network runs off different satellites, so it would have to be a different phone purchased on a monthly-paid plan for it to work."


2 months of trying to get this phone working and it hasn't, even though it's the exact same phone as mine, and I give up. We're going to return the phone to Virgin and get the money back for the phone and minutes - but lesson to be learned: don't attempt to get a pay-as-you-go phone through Virgin if you're in Nunavut. Apparently they don't work! (However, I'm still happy with my monthly-plan Virgin phone, so if you're looking for a phone that works and want to go with Virgin, I suggest you set one up in the south and bring it up like I did. I have also heard of people getting Koodo phones and it working perfectly fine up here, but I don't have direct experience with it.)



  1. Great post. Fantastic blog!! What model of phone are you using?

    1. Hi and welcome to our blog :)

      The phone I'm using right now is the Samsung Stunt - I actually don't see it on the Virgin site anymore, so I wonder if they took it down after I caused too big of a fuss (ha)

      I did get a message from a friend who said she found a CDMA phone through Telus that's on pre-paid and it works up here! Just remember that Rogers and Fido do not work here, only Bell and its affiliated networks (Telus, Virgin, Koodo)

      Good luck and let me know what you end up getting!

  2. This really answered my problem, thank you!

  3. Great post. My fiancé and I are also looking to make the move to Nunavut from the GTA in August 2014. We are both in the process of getting new cellphones and thought we were stuck with getting a Bell plan as we heard only Bell phones worked in Nunavut. It is so nice to know we have some options!


    1. August 2014 will be here before you know it! I'm glad you have a lot of time to figure out what to bring and to set things up! Which community will you be moving to?

      Welcome to the north! :)