'Merrican cellphones in Canada


The fiancee had a question, I thought I had a answer for: do American cellphones work up in Canada?

Back in '02 and '03, my Minot, ND-bought and serviced cellphone worked in Winnipeg for the one or two calls I placed (Verizon). I still have the same number and carrier. However, that was four or five years ago, and I haven’t been up there since. I haven’t tried it lately, nor has she.

So we’re going up to Canada (Toronto and Montreal) for our honeymoon. Do Verizon and Cingular cellphones from the U.S. work up in Canada?

I think we’re already meeting a few Dopers, but hey, if you wanna meet us, drop a line and I’ll give you my cell number (if it works).

I’ve used my Cingular phone in Vancouver, BC. International charges applied, but it worked.

As long as it is a quad-band GSM phone (850/900/1800/1900MHz) you will have no trouble swapping out SIMs to work in Canada, if you buy a pay-as-you-go SIM. If you want to just go with Verizon/Cingular (AT&T)'s roaming then you’ll be just as fine there, too, albeit paying roaming charges.

In general, what works in the US (whether GSM or CDMA) will work in Canada, though not all data standards may be supported, if that matters.

I have Cingular and it worked fine in Montreal and Ontario a few weeks ago. Same as in the U.S.

Like Shagnasty, I have a Cingular/ATT phone, and it worked in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. No modifications needed. Your carrier will be Rogers (they seem to have a monopoly on telecom in Canada), and the charges will be higher depending on your plan (for our plan, calls were US$0.79/min, and text messages were US$0.50). A quick call to Cingular/ATT will get you your charges according to your plan. Have fun, and don’t forget to see Chinatown/ Kensington Market in Toronto.


Ah, how I miss my Cingular/ATT North America plan… No long distance and no roaming charges to or from anywhere in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico…

So I can definitely tell you that Cingular/ATT works… and I think Verizon used to have a plan that included Canada too…

Now, Rogers on the other hand is useless… Canada never even got the Sidekick 3’s, and I think I’ll be 152 years old before the iPhone shows up… or if it does, Rogers will charge hundreds a month in data charges…

In early June, my Verizon phone worked in Alberta (Kalispell MT to Calgary route) for a not horrific, but not cheap, roaming charge. Verizon broadband, not so much. The roaming charges were (estimates – I’m too lazy to look for the bill) about $50 for a half dozen or so fairly short calls (say, 5-ish minutes each, average) during prime time.

Broadband wasn’t available between just north of Kalispell & just south of Calgary, but I quit trying before we got to the Calgary proper.

T Mobile works in both Vancouver, and Toronto, but I can’t access voice mail till I get home.

I have a funny story about that. My wife got a new cell phone just before we drove to Canada three weeks ago. She is a sales manager and lives and dies by her cell phone. She spent hours setting up her contacts and other settings on her phone before we left to get it just like she wanted it. We got to Ottawa and she wanted to make a call. Her splash screen said “ROGERS” and she was devastated and demanded to know who this Roger person was and why it was on her phone.

I honestly didn’t know but I mentioned something about cell phone viruses. She was horrified that her new cell phone was infected. A few hours later, I opened my cell phone and was greeted with “ROGERS” as well. I called her over and told her to take a look. She gave a shriek and had a truly panicked look on her face that all of our cell phones were being hijacked by some guy in Canada named Roger. I didn’t figure the whole thing out until a few seconds later and it took a while to convince her and calm her down.

My little Sprint phone worked fine waaaay up in NS in 2005, but come to think of it I only made a couple of calls to the States with it. I mostly just talked to Canadian relatives to make plans (and got charged nearly double per minute for it on my next bill).

Fortunately, the Post Office had a little Internet cafe, so the eager American nation was able to hear how the trip was going.

Both my personal Verizon phone and my company-issued T-Mobile BlackBerry have always worked fine in Montreal and Toronto. The roaming charges on my Verizon phone were hefty, so I’ve used the BlackBerry whenever possible (I never see the bill for that one :smiley: ). I know Verizon has a service plan that includes Canada, but it’s not really worth it for me.

Just to correct a misconception, Rogers does not have a monopoly on telecom in Canada, although they are one of the “big 3” carriers here. The others, Telus and Bell Canada, are just as prevalent. However, Rogers has the most established GSM network, so if you have an American GSM phone, your carrier almost certainly has a roaming deal with them.

We’ve used our Sprint phones up in northwest Ontario. There must be new towers along the Trans-Canada out there because a few years ago we couldn’t get a signal. We figured that with international roaming charges, it worked out to about 59 cents/minute.

I have Verizon. I had almost zero reception when I visited Toronto this spring. It was an unexpected nightmare.

Ok, here is a question. My SO and I both have TracFones and the same plan. Mine worked in Montreal (roaming), his didn’t. Why?

At the risk of contradicting anecdotes with facts, Verizon Wireless and Cingular both support roaming in Canada. The Cingular site provides a link to the coverage maps for Rogers and Fido (the latter is a subsidiary of the former).