Telus Mobile services, meaning smartphones and mobile Internet sticks, will be available online starting September 6, and this includes getting a local Telus number. In the media event that took place at the Stanton Territorial hospital this morning, Telus announced that they will be coming to the NWT and Yukon providing 4g LTE service in major centres and 3g in most other communities.
I don’t normally go to media events around town, I don’t report the news (again, links to news stories above) but I went to this one. At this point I figure I can disclose that months ago Telus had a small team come to Yellowknife and Whitehorse do research on the area. And by research, I mean community outreach. I truly admire the steps Telus took in investigating what the community needed, how they might react to another telco and what Telus could offer that wasn’t already available. I met with two marketing folks and talked endlessly about Yellowknife and all that we as a community have to offer. It was a very refreshing experience to meet with people who were so interested in learning so much.
Anyways, fast forward to a week ago I got an invite to their event yesterday directly from the gentleman I met earlier. He was going out of his way to speak with me, and to me that meant a lot, so I took the time to attend the morning event at the Stanton Territorial Hospital.
It was clear that Telus was coming to the north after those discussions and local numbers popping up, but why where they hosting their event at the Hospital? Well it turns out that when they start officially offering service in Yellowknife on September 6th, 2013 (I’m not entirely sure about the rest of the NWT), they will be donating $25 per activation to the Stanton Territorial Hospital Foundation. This money will help to purchase new equipment for the Obstetrics Unit. Yes, this is an incentive Telus is using to entice more new activations, but it is a good cause.
Now lets look at what Telus is going to be offering in the way of mobility services to Yellowknife. The screenshots below were taken right off the websites of Bell.ca, Telus.ca and Nwtel.ca. They are considered “lite” plans for Bell and Telus and a flex plan by NorthwesTel.
Looking at both options you’ll see that for the most part the options in the $45 and $55 range are very similar. There are minor differences, but not a lot. This is a perfect example of the mobility industry. Between the big competitors plan pricing isn’t all that different, so like Telus pushed at their event on Monday, they need to push the angle of choice and customer service.
NorthwesTel on the other hand offers a flex plan. Where you pick the service you need starting at a base price. Then, if you use up your minutes or data you are automatically moved up to the next tier. This removes the fear of insane overage charges and allows you to use as much as you need, as you need it.
If you are wondering about coverage, they both have you covered there. Bell, or NorthwesTel, or NorthwesTel for Bell, or NorthwestTel for Bell funded by the Government (however you want to look at it), has done a lot of work in the recent years to improve the mobile infrastructure in the North. There is now 4G LTE in the bigger communities and 3G in most other communities. This infrastructure is used by all three, NorthwesTel, Telus and Bell, so in essence the coverage could be the exact same, however I don’t know the technical mumbo-jumbo of it all. If you look at the maps below you will see that besides the branding colours of each, they are the same.
Bell (NorthwesTel as well)
As I mentioned above one of the key points Telus made yesterday was how they valued good customer service and so far I believe them. However, there is two levels of customers service we need to look at: 1. the big generic call centres and 2. the local retail store.
For the big National call centres I can’t say one way or the other how they are as I don’t think the standard for call centres is very high, and I’m speaking just about Telus and Bell. However I have seen Telus reach out a lot more on Twitter than Bell, but that might just have been because of the local event. I believe NorthwesTel’s call centre is located in Whitehorse, and I’ve always had good experiences speaking with thier customer service reps.
In terms of retail stores, I have nothing but praise for Roy’s Audio/Video, which is a Bell retailer, and the same with the NorthwesTel store, which recently moved to a prime location on Franklin Ave. Both places make me feel welcome and have gone out of their way to provide me with the best possible service. I can’t speak for everyone but when it comes to local retailers I become territorial about long time business so, for me, it takes a bit to win me over on the hyperlocal level.
What I’m surprised most people didn’t pick up on right way was that along with Telus coming to the North, they are also bringing another independent communications business. Petron Communications, based in Fort St. John, BC, has provided Telus services for sometime, as well as other Oil and Gas related communication services. How they will work out in Yellowknife, only time will tell.
Wrap it all up
To wrap up this post, which has become very long, I do want to share with you this neat video that Telus put together yesterday in about 5 hours. It shows their dedication to transitioning into the community in a very positive way.
So whether you like this change or not, Telus is providing another option for Northerners. Point blank this doesn’t affect me, but maybe you have family on Telus in the south and you want to bundle you plan. Or maybe you are thinking of moving to Yellowknife and now you don’t have to switch providers.
The comments are open for you to leave your thoughts about this change below.