|Industry||Mobile network operator, financial|
|Founded||March 18, 2010|
|Key people||Alek Krstajic (CEO)|
|Products||Android smartphones, feature phones, MasterCard gift cards|
|Services||CDMA2000 (including EV-DO), cheque cashing, mobile broadband, online music store, SMS, telephony, wire transfer|
Public Mobile is a Canadian mobile phone company and financial services provider, operating in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, parts of the Niagara Region, and Greater Montreal. It is one of several new cellphone providers which launched in 2010 in Canada. Public Mobile operates a CDMA network and offers limited financial services under the Public Cash Services brand. Public has partnered with Bell Mobility and Telus Mobility to provide roaming service in Canada, as well as Sprint Corporation in the United States. According to CEO Alek Krstajic, Public Mobile's business strategy is to target "value conscious" consumers. As of October 2013, Public Mobile has approximately 280,000 subscribers. In Q4 2013, it was announced that Telus would be purchasing Public Mobile for an undisclosed amount. The Public Mobile brand and its existing plans will continue to be offered through the end of 2014, but be discontinued sometime in 2015.
Public Mobile paid $52 million to purchase PCS G Band spectrum during the 2008 Industry Canada Spectrum auction. It is currently the only company in the world to deploy this spectrum. Other participants in the 2008 Spectrum auction include Wind Mobile and Mobilicity purchasing the different Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum for their networks in Southern Ontario, while Videotron purchased AWS to provide service throughout the province of Quebec.
Public Mobile opened stores on March 18, 2010 in Toronto and Montreal. The network was deployed in Toronto on May 26, 2010 and in Montreal on June 25, 2010.
Public Mobile added 40 000 new lines throughout Q3 2011, bringing the number of total active subscriptions to 154 000.
Two Android smartphones and a 3G network were launched by Public Mobile on November 22, 2011. This includes the Public Mobile MAX and the ZTE N762. In December 2011, retail presence for Public Mobile has been expanded to Walmart Canada and Zellers stores. Roaming in the United States on Sprint Nextel's network was also launched during that month. Rates for this service are the same as Canadian roaming rates. Public Mobile added 45 000 new subscriptions in Q4 2011, finishing the year with 199 000 active customers.
During the Super Bowl season, Public Mobile purchased Super Bowl advertising airtime in Canada for its "Roam Rage" campaign. On February 7, 2012, Reuters reported that Public Mobile has 199 000 subscribers. In February Public Mobile also increased its monthly fee for the low-end Unlimited Talk plan by $4/month. In August, Public Mobile launched Siren Music, an unlimited music service for their Android smartphones  Similarly to competitor Mobilicity, Public Mobile started its Boxing Week sales early in an attempt to successfully finish the fourth quarter of 2012.
On April 10, 2013, Public Mobile announced that it would join Mobilicity and Wind Mobile in withdrawing from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, citing a bias towards Canada's national carriers.
On June 6, 2013 Public Mobile announced that Thomvest Seed Capital and Cartesian Capital acquired Public Mobile. Thomvest becomes the controlling shareholder in the company. The commitment of the Thomvest and Cartesian is to fund Public Mobile to a cash flow positive position and participate in the upcoming 700 MHz auction.
On October 23, 2013, Industry Canada approved an offer by Telus to acquire Public Mobile and its spectrum for an undisclosed amount. Following the closure of the deal, Public Mobile's customers will be migrated to Telus's CDMA network. Unlike its failed attempt to acquire Mobilicity, Telus is legally able to acquire Public Mobile because the G band is not subject to a restriction present for AWS spectrum owners, preventing its spectrum from being bought by an incumbent carrier. On November 29, 2013, the federal Competition Bureau also approved the offer, saying that "non-incumbents in areas served by Public Mobile would likely continue to 'provide effective competition'" after the sale. A condition of the sale is that Telus offer Public Mobile's existing plans until at least the end of 2014, which they will continue to do under the Public Mobile brand.
Built by ZTE, Public Mobile's network is based on CDMA2000 1XRTT technology with the 3G Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) standard enabled. It is capable of voice, SMS and mobile broadband. It uses the G block, one 5 + 5 MHz paired spectrum in the range of 1910-1915 MHz and 1990-1995 MHz, which is part of the Personal Communications Service (PCS) spectrum deployed by most major operators since the early 1990s across North America. However, Public is currently the only carrier with service commercially deployed in the PCS G band. Such frequencies have the same operational characteristics as all other PCS bands. In the United States, the PCS G band spectrum is held by Sprint (inherited by the effects of the Nextel acquisition) in some market areas, and in October 2011 they announced they would be using this spectrum to roll out their new LTE network starting in mid-2012.
Spectrum purchased by Public Mobile covers southern Ontario and Quebec, a population of about 19 million. The company currently provides coverage from Bowmanville to Burlington in the Greater Toronto area, as well as the City of Hamilton, QEW/420 corridor (and surrounding areas) of the Niagara Region, Montreal and its surrounding suburbs. In June 2012, Public Mobile published an updated coverage map on their website, indicating their intention of expanding to parts of the Niagara Region and northwest of Toronto towards (but not including) Barrie. This coverage went live in August 2012, with a new retail store located in St. Catharines.
During its launch event on March 22, 2010, Public Mobile marked several Ontario cities as "future coverage". This included Windsor, Sarnia, Chatham-Kent, London, the Niagara Region, the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Barrie, Peterborough, Kingston and Ottawa as well as highways connecting these cities and smaller towns nearby. Some have yet to be added, however the Niagara Region has recently seen coverage enabled.
Only devices sold by Public Mobile can be used on their network, since they are the sole provider worldwide to deploy the CDMA2000 technology in the PCS G band. Current manufacturers include Kyocera, UMX and ZTE. Samsung has manufactured a flip phone for Public Mobile in the past, but no longer creates phone for the carrier. Public Mobile does not currently sell any dedicated mobile broadband modems, and tethering is not allowed on their smartphone devices.
Many feature phones are available for use on Public Mobile:
- UMX Companion (MXC-450)
- UMX Flip (MXC-628)
- ZTE E520 (Agent)
- ZTE F451
- Kyocera Kona
The UMX Companion is a bar phone designed to be senior-friendly. The ZTE E520 is also a bar phone, but has a smaller keypad. The UMX Flip is available in either black, white, red or blue and as its name suggests, uses a flip design. The ZTE F451 is a feature phone with a QWERTY keyboard.
Smartphones offered by Public Mobile feature Android, a touchscreen and a 3G EV-DO modem. They run version 2.3.x Gingerbread unless otherwise stated:
- Kyocera Rise (Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, touchscreen and QWERTY keyboard)
- ZTE N762
- ZTE N861
- ZTE N850
The Public Mobile MAX is the carrier's first device to feature a front-facing camera while the ZTE N860 Warp is the carrier's first device to have a 4.3" display and ARMv7 processor. UMX states that it can release versions of the MXE-635 and MXE-685 compatible with Public Mobile, although this is now unlikely to happen due to the age of the Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS these phones run. In addition to this, UMX plans to release the MXE-680 "Max Mango" smartphone in 2013, with optional but unconfirmed support for Public Mobile. It features a 4-inch display, a 1 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB of internal storage expandable via microSD, a 5-megapixel rear camera, a VGA front camera and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Several devices have been cleared out by Public Mobile and are no longer available:
- Kyocera Tomo (flip, no camera)
- Kyocera G2GO
- Public Mobile BUZZ by UMX
- Samsung R312
- ZTE C70
- ZTE C76 (bar)
- ZTE N860 (Warp)
- UMX Max (MXE-670)
The Samsung R312 was discontinued because it was incompatible with roaming services. Those who owned the phone received a discount towards another handset.
Voice plans for feature phones cannot be added to an Android smartphone, or vice-versa. Caller ID, voice-mail, long distance and other enhancements can be added à la carte to any plan, or they are sometimes included in costlier plans.
There are currently two voice plans for use on feature phones offered by Public Mobile. The lowest tier includes unlimited province-wide talk, while the highest tier adds unlimited text messaging and several calling features.
Public Mobile currently offers three Android monthly plans. The most basic of these includes unlimited province-wide talk, unlimited sent and received international SMS, and unlimited 3G Internet access on the Android itself, with no tethering or calling features. Public Mobile prohibits tethering on its network.
Roaming for Public Mobile customers is officially provided in Canada by strategic partners Telus Mobility since March 2011, and Bell Mobility since September 16, 2011. Both Bell and Telus provide roaming using identical CDMA network technology, but on a different frequency band, with coverage extending to 93% of Canadians. Public customers who use their device on either network pay a 15¢ charge for every text message sent and every minute of a call made or received. Text messages received and calls to customer support remain free. Public Mobile does not have a roaming agreement with SaskTel or with MTS Mobility and cannot provide service in Saskatchewan or Manitoba, except in Winnipeg where Telus provides coverage.
Public Mobile offers long distance plans for Canada, the United States and overseas countries. Some feature phone and Android plans already include long distance for some countries.
Châteauguay tower construction
The city of Châteauguay, a suburb of Montreal, published a press release to condemn Public Mobile and Rogers Wireless' tower construction practices. City mayor Nathalie Simon stated: "It makes no sense that a company can get away with setting up wherever it wants, whenever it wants, in our city, without anyone having a say in the matter. We can no longer tolerate this increasingly systematic corporate snubbing of our citizens and communities." She asks Quebec's Minister of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy Laurent Lessard to ensure that her city and other cities in the province can be involved in deciding whether to accept or refuse the nearby construction of telecommunications towers.
Public Mobile has its own retail stores. Additionally, third-party retailers selling Public Mobile products include Gateway Newsstands, Loblaw Companies, Walmart Canada and Zellers. In-store payment is available both at Public Mobile stores and at Gateway Newsstands.
- Hardy, Ian. "Public Mobile hints at launching $200 Android devices". Mobile Syrup. Retrieved 2011-10-12.
- "Telus to buy Public Mobile". CBC News. 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- Hardy, Ian. "Video: Public Mobile comes out with 3 commercials that target "Rebelus Wireless" and "Roam Rage"". Mobile Syrup. Retrieved 2012-05-16.[unreliable source?]
- "Public Mobile says keeping pace, hiking rates". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-05-16.
- Hardy, Ian. "Public Mobile increasing Unlimited Talk plan by $4/month February 9th". Mobile Syrup. Retrieved 2012-05-16.[unreliable source?]
- Hardy, Ian. "Public Mobile launches Unlimited Music service called "Siren"". Mobile Syrup. Retrieved 2012-08-14.[unreliable source?]
- "WIND Mobile, Mobilicity & Public Mobile withdraw from Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association". CNW Group. April 10, 2013. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
- "Public Mobile announces new ownership". Public Mobile. June 6, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
- "Ottawa approves Telus deal to acquire wireless startup Public Mobile". Financial Post. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
- "Telus Corp’s takeover of Public Mobile cleared by competition bureau". Financial Post. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
-  Industry Canada Band Plan for 1910-1915 MHz and 1990-1995 MHz
- Spectrum Direct - Public Mobile
- Public Mobile online phones
- UMX Max Mango
- "Everyday Questions - Can I use my data phone to connect to the internet on my laptop (tethering)?". Public Mobile. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
- Mobile Syrup - Public Mobile expands roaming coverage area, now covers 93% of Canadians
- Public Mobile coverage
- Daignault, Sylvain (2011-11-22). "The City of Châteauguay condemns the practices of Public Mobile and Rogers Communications Inc., calls on Quebec's Minister of Municipal Affairs to act and launches a series of responses". CNW Group. Retrieved 2012-07-11.