updated 11:50 am EST, Sat January 30, 2010
Virgin shares Bell plans and Bold 9700 too
Ahead of an official February 2nd launch, Virgin Mobile's Canadian branch today quietly rolled out its HSPA+ network and its first phones to take advantage of the new service, including iPhones. Features and pricing match those of its parent company Bell and give Virgin users up to 21Mbps downstream on supporting hardware as well as the same 93 percent national coverage thanks to a sharing deal with Telus. Those with at least a 500MB data plan get free Wi-Fi at Starbucks coffee shops.
Several new devices have joined the network in the gradual move away from CDMA and for now are all smartphone or data-only devices. The iPhone leads the group and shares the same 3-year contract pricing as Bell, at $100 to $300 depending on the iPhone 3G or 3GS model picked. Smartphone plans are the same for all devices and, in combo plans, start at $50 per month for 150 minutes, unlimited evenings and weekends, and 500MB of data. Tethering is bundled into all the plans, but only $80 (400 minutes, 2GB) and $100 (500 minutes, 3GB) plans have Visual Voicemail automatically included. Those in less expensive plans can pick from a 'free' bundle of either voicemail and call display or else unlimited MMS and SMS where both are included in the top two plans.
Plans can be also broken up separately into voice blocks between $25 and $70 per month and data plans between $30 and $85 per month, the latter of which supplies 5GB of data per month.
Outside of the Apple hardware, Virgin's additions include the BlackBerry Bold 9700 as well as two Novatel data devices: the Ovation MC998D, a USB modem that supplies the full 21Mbps, and the MiFi 2372, the company's 7.2Mbps 3G-to-Wi-Fi router.
Neither the smartphones nor the data devices are allowed to use prepaid service.