Public Mobile

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Public Mobile
Type Subsidiary
Industry Mobile network operator, financial (discontinued)
Founded March 18, 2010
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario
Products Android smartphones, feature phones (discontinued)
Services HSPA, mobile broadband, SMS, telephony
Parent Telus

Public Mobile is a discount, self-serve, prepaid, Canadian mobile phone company that distinguishes itself by offering unlimited phone plans, that include unlimited Province-wide (Ontario or Quebec only) or Canada-wide roaming, depending on the plan. Public Mobile does not require customers to be within a municipal calling area on its plans, just within the Province (Province-wide plan) or Canada (Canada-wide plan), unlike comparable services with Chat-r, Mobilicity, and Wind.

The service is not charged by minute, as with other prepaid providers, and instead customers buy service for a 30-day period and have unlimited talk time during the prepaid period. Public Mobile operates predominantly in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, parts of the Niagara Region, and Greater Montreal, however has network coverage and Ported numbers from across Canada, which has increased its' subscriber base nationally.

Public Mobile provides coverage within the Telus Canadian footprint, with Canadian roaming agreements in place. It is one of several new cellphone providers which launched in 2010 in Canada with CDMA network coverage, and was then purchased by Telus in October 2013, for an undisclosed amount[1] As of August 8, 2014, Public Mobile now uses the existing Telus 4G network.

Public Mobile provides wireless services and used to offer limited financial services under the Public Cash Services brand.


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,[2] 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.

The UMX Max Android smartphone and a 3G network were launched by Public Mobile on November 22, 2011.[3] The ZTE N762 was launched on December 5, 2011.[4] 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.[5] On February 7, 2012, Reuters reported that Public Mobile has 199 000 subscribers.[6] In February Public Mobile also increased its monthly fee for the low-end Unlimited Talk plan by $4/month.[7] In August, Public Mobile launched Siren Music, an unlimited music service for their Android smartphones [8] Similarly to competitor Mobilicity, Public Mobile started its Boxing Week sales early in an attempt to successfully finish the fourth quarter of 2012.[citation needed]

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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11] Public Mobile released its seventh and last CDMA Android smartphone, the SangFei Evolution, on November 9, 2013.[12] On November 29, 2013, the federal Competition Bureau also approved Telus' offer, saying that "non-incumbents in areas served by Public Mobile would likely continue to 'provide effective competition'" after the sale.[13] 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.

On March 27, 2014, Telus' Public Mobile customers were notified that Public Mobile's existing CDMA network would be shut down by August 2014, and that customers wishing to continue service would need to buy phones compatible with Telus' 4G network.[14]

On August 23, 2014, Public Mobile's customers were notified that all stores would soon be closing in order to keep pricing competitive.

On September 4, 2014, it was announced that Public Mobile would transition toward being a "self-serve value brand" under Telus.[15]


Built by ZTE Corporation, Public Mobile's CDMA network was based on CDMA2000 1XRTT technology with the 3G Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) standard enabled. It was capable of voice, SMS and mobile broadband. It used the G block, one 5 + 5 MHz paired spectrum in the range of 1910-1915 MHz and 1990-1995 MHz,[16][17] which was part of the Personal Communications Service (PCS) spectrum deployed by most major operators since the early 1990s across North America. However, Public was 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.

Ev-DO speeds on Public Mobile's CDMA network could theoretically reach up to 3.1 Mbit/s for downloads and 1.8 Mbit/s for uploads. reported real world speeds reaching a maximum of 2.47 Mbit/s for downloads and 1.1 Mbit/s for uploads, with typical speeds of 0.699 Mbit/s for downloads and 0.464 Mbit/s for uploads.[18]


On its CDMA network, Public Mobile's CDMA network provided 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.[2] In August 2012, Public Mobile expanded its coverage into parts of the Niagara Region and northwest of Toronto towards (but not including) Barrie.


Feature phones[edit]

The Alcatel A392A was the HSPA+ only feature phone offered. It is a simple flip phone.

Android devices[edit]

From November 2011 to November 2013, Public Mobile has released a total of seven CDMA and Ev-DO smartphones powered by the Android operating system.[3][12] Since August 2014, these devices can no longer be used on Public's network. The following is a comparison table:[19]

UMX MAX ZTE N762 ZTE Warp Kyocera Rise ZTE Fury ZTE Warp Sequent SangFei Elevation
CPU 0.6 GHz 1.0 GHz 1.4 GHz 1.0 GHz
RAM ~0.4 GB 0.25 GB 0.5 GB 0.75 GB
Storage ~0.15 GB 0.5 GB 4 GB 2 GB 4 GB
Camera Rear 3.2 MP 2.0 MP 5.0 MP 3.2 MP 5.0 MP
Front 0.3 MP N/A N/A N/A N/A 1.3 MP 0.3 MP
Display Size 3.2" 3.5" 4.3" 3.5" 4.3" 5"
Resolution 320p 480p 320p qHD 480p
OS version Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich"
Release date November 23, 2011 December 5, 2011 August 15, 2012 October 16, 2012 ? August 12, 2013 November 9, 2013
Reference [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

In the summer of 2014, Public Mobile allowed customers to choose between four Android smartphones compatible with Telus Mobility's HSPA+ network: the Moto G, the Samsung Galaxy S III Mini, the Samsung Galaxy Ace II X and the Huawei Ascend Y330.

BlackBerry Q5[edit]

The BlackBerry Q5 is the only non-Android smartphone to have ever been offered by Public Mobile. It features a hardware keyboard.


Public Mobile offers prepaid voice, messaging (SMS and MMS) and data services on the Telus network, as well as roaming options throughout Canada. Province-wide roaming on the $19 plan, and Canada-wide roaming on the $25 plan and up are not charged additional fees, and are included in the prepaid plan's cost.


There are currently two voice plans for use on feature phones offered by Public Mobile. The lowest tier ($19) includes unlimited province-wide talk and caller ID, while the highest tier ($25) adds unlimited text messaging, unlimited Canada-wide talk and several calling features (voicemail, call forwarding, three-way calling, call waiting, and caller ID).[20]

Public Mobile currently offers three data plans. The most basic of these ($40) includes unlimited Canada-wide talk, unlimited sent and received international SMS, and 1GB 4G Internet access, with all included calling features. Public Mobile no longer prohibits tethering on its network.[21]

Rate plans do not allow for overage or pay-per-use charges (411, data overage, SMS Shortcode fees, or roaming). A plan or add-on must be in place to allow the customer to use that service type, for instance a long distance plan must be in place before long distance calls outside of Canada can be made (customers may still receive long distance calls without additional charge). Caller ID, Voice-Mail, Call Waiting, and other enhancements are included in plans $25 or over. Device-based restrictions on plans and additional charges for caller ID were later eliminated when Public Mobile began using Telus' HSPA+ network.


Public Mobile currently offers Unlimited US calling for 30 days ($10), and 1000 non-expiring International Long Distance ($20) [22] minutes to select countries [23] as add-ons. Data add-on options are also available through self-serve, they include a 500mb ($20) data package, and a 1gb ($30) data add-on which do not expire after a set time.

Payment and Self-Serve[edit]

Public Mobile plans and add-ons can be paid by credit card (including Visa Debit), or through participating third-party voucher resellers.[24] Most account services are available to customers through self serve IVR (*611 from the associated handset), or a web access account from,[25] including changing rate plans, add-ons, and adding top-ups. Customers are charged a $5 customer service fee for processing a transaction with an operator, if the service is available for the customer to complete through self-serve.

Siren Music (discontinued)[edit]

Siren Music was a monthly streaming music service launched in August 2012. It offered unlimited music listening and offline caching from a catalogue of over five million songs.[26] The service was only available to Public Mobile customers with an Android plan while on their CDMA network. With the transition to Telus' HSPA+ network, Siren Music service was discontinued. No discount or promotion was offered to compensate for this loss, despite Telus partnering with Rdio.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hardy, Ian (23 October 2013). "TELUS to acquire 100% of Public Mobile". Mobile Syrup. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Reuters
  3. ^ a b Hardy, Ian (November 16, 2011). "Public Mobile to launch the Android 2.3 ZTE N762 and something called the "Max"". Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  4. ^ Hardy, Ian (December 5, 2011). "Public Mobile releases the Android 2.3 ZTE N762 for a low $149". Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  5. ^ 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?]
  6. ^ "Public Mobile says keeping pace, hiking rates". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-05-16. 
  7. ^ Hardy, Ian. "Public Mobile increasing Unlimited Talk plan by $4/month February 9th". Mobile Syrup. Retrieved 2012-05-16. [unreliable source?]
  8. ^ Hardy, Ian. "Public Mobile launches Unlimited Music service called "Siren"". Mobile Syrup. Retrieved 2012-08-14. [unreliable source?]
  9. ^ "WIND Mobile, Mobilicity & Public Mobile withdraw from Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association". CNW Group. April 10, 2013. Retrieved April 10, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Public Mobile announces new ownership". Public Mobile. June 6, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Ottawa approves Telus deal to acquire wireless startup Public Mobile". Financial Post. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Hardy, Ian (November 9, 2013). "Public Mobile releases the 5-inch ‘Elevation’". Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Telus Corp’s takeover of Public Mobile cleared by competition bureau". Financial Post. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  14. ^ Telus’s decision to shut Public Mobile angers consumers
  15. ^
  16. ^ [1] Industry Canada Band Plan for 1910-1915 MHz and 1990-1995 MHz
  17. ^ Spectrum Direct - Public Mobile
  18. ^ Public Mobile Incorporated Speed Test
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Hardy, Ian (August 12, 2012). "Public Mobile launches Unlimited Music service called "Siren"". Mobile Syrup. Retrieved August 4, 2014. 

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