Public Mobile

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Public Mobile
Industry Mobile virtual network operator
Founded March 18, 2010
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Products Mobile telephony
Services HSPA, LTE, mobile broadband, SMS, telephony
Parent Telus Communications Inc.

Public Mobile is a self-serve, prepaid Canadian mobile brand launched on March 18, 2010 and acquired by Telus Communications in October 2013.[1] Public Mobile was one of several new cellphone providers, alongside Mobilicity (later acquired by Rogers Communications) and Wind Mobile (later acquired by Shaw Communications), which launched in Canada after a government initiative to encourage competition in the wireless sector. As of August 8, 2014, Public Mobile operates as a mobile virtual network operator on the Telus Mobility network. On August 31, 2015, Public Mobile "relaunched" to the public under a beta program providing free SIM cards and three tiers of BYOD plans starting with a 10-day, 30-day or a 90-day period, all of which have respective options of Talk, Text and Data.

The service is not charged by minute, as with other prepaid providers, and instead customers select which types of unlimited talk and text service and which data caps they would like for a 10-, 30-, or 90-day period.

Public Mobile's original CDMA network (now shut down), prior to its takeover by Telus, operated independently without the use of another carrier's network (with the exception of Telus as a roaming provider). Their legacy coverage network centered on Toronto, small parts of the GTA, and Montreal.


As an independent CDMA carrier (May 2010—August 2013)[edit]

Public Mobile logo used from 2010-2015

Public Mobile paid $52 million to purchase Personal Communications Service G Band spectrum during the 2008 Industry Canada Spectrum auction. It was 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 Vidéotron Mobile 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 was to fund Public Mobile to a cash flow positive position and participate in the upcoming 700 MHz auction.[10]

As a Telus Mobility MVNO (October 2013—present)[edit]

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 were migrated to Telus' network. Unlike its failed attempt to acquire Mobilicity, Telus was legally able to acquire Public Mobile because the Personal Communications Service G band was not subject to restrictions present for AWS spectrum owners, allowing the PCS spectrum to be bought by an incumbent carrier.[11] Public Mobile released its seventh and last CDMA Android smartphone, the SangFei Elevation, 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 was that Telus offer Public Mobile's existing plans until at least the end of 2014, which they continued to do under the Public Mobile brand.

On March 27, 2014, Public Mobile customers were notified that Public Mobile's existing CDMA network would be shut down by Telus in 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]

In February 2015, Public Mobile reorganized as a "bring your own phone" value brand. The new plans included options to customize different aspects of service (talk, SMS, and mobile data). Additional discounts were introduced for customer loyalty (per 12 consecutive months, capped at 60 consecutive months), automatic credit (including Visa Debit) payments, referral marketing and participating on the brand's support forum.[16]

In November 2015, Public Mobile announced it would be offering a selection of devices by way of a partnership with Orchard, a Toronto-based smartphone refurbisher and reseller.[17] The partnership is unprecedented in Canada as most mobile carriers are required to strike deals with hardware manufacturers before they are able to supply their subscribers with devices. In particular, Apple has direct-distribution agreements with all other national carriers with the exception of Wind and Public Mobile.[18]


Public Mobile uses the Telus Mobility 4G LTE network.[16]


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,[19][20] 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 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.[21]

The 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.

Former devices[edit]

Public Mobile previously offered a small range of feature phones and Android smartphones. along with the Alcatel A392A feature phone and the BlackBerry Q5. After the reorganization into a Telus value brand in February 2015, Public Mobile no longer sells devices. Instead, Public Mobile has announced a partnership with a Toronto-based smartphone reseller named Orchard.[22]

Feature phones[edit]

The Alcatel A392A was the only HSPA+ 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:[23]

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 [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

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 was 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.


Public Mobile offers 10-day, 30-day and 90-day pre-paid plans that can include one or more of the following features:[24]

Feature 1. Talk

  • unlimited province-wide talk, or
  • unlimited Canada-wide talk, or
  • unlimited Canada/US-wide talk

Feature 2. Text

  • unlimited International text

Feature 3. Data 10-day plan options

  • 150 MB, or
  • 500 MB, or
  • 1GB

30-day plan options

  • 1 GB, or
  • 2 GB, or
  • 4 GB

90-day plan

  • 3GB
  • 6GB
  • 12GB

Prices for all feature options vary according to plan length. Customers also get a rebate for combining 2 or 3 features (such as talk and text, or talk, text and data).


Public Mobile currently offers various talk and data add-ons/boosters. Customers with an active plan can add 200 MB of data for $10, 1GB of data for $30, 200 minutes U.S. long distance for $8 or 400 minutes of international long distance for $15. Any remaining data or minutes will roll over to the next cycle.

Add-ons are forfeited if there is no active plan on the account for a period of more than 90 days as this will trigger the permanent deletion of the account.


Customers on 30-day or 90-day plan (10-day plan are not eligible) can earn various rewards, such as for paying automatically by credit card, participating in the community, referring friends, or for each year of being a customer with Public Mobile. Reward levels vary.[25]

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.[26] Most account services are available to customers through self serve IVR (*611 from the associated handset), or a web access account from,[27] 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. New customers as of January 27, 2015, will no longer be able to reach customer service by phone but need to send an email.

Former services[edit]

Music streaming[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.[28] The service was only available to Public Mobile customers with an Android plan while on the CDMA network. With the transition to Telus' HSPA+ network, Siren Music service was discontinued with no compensation to users.

Financial services[edit]

Public Mobile formerly offered financial services under the Public Cash Services brand.

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. ^ a b Hardy, Ian. "TELUS rebrands Public Mobile as "Canada's cooperative wireless provider," offers data-only LTE plans". Mobile Syrup. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ [2] Industry Canada Band Plan for 1910-1915 MHz and 1990-1995 MHz
  20. ^ Spectrum Direct - Public Mobile
  21. ^ Public Mobile Incorporated Speed Test
  22. ^ [3]
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Hardy, Ian (August 12, 2012). "Public Mobile launches Unlimited Music service called "Siren"". Mobile Syrup. Retrieved August 4, 2014. 

External links[edit]