When choosing between WIND and Virgin, you need to consider two factors: price and coverage. We can certainly help you out with the first one, but for the second you'll need to do a little research of your own.
Don't worry, checking out likely reception in your area is pretty easy, and we'll cover a couple tips that should simplify things for you.
WIND is by far the cheaper carrier, at about half the price per month as each equivalent Virgin Mobile plan. Virgin makes up for some of this with a larger range of plans, but mostly you'll end up comparing the price differentiation against network coverage and speed once we're done.
Recently, Virgin's plans all went up by $5 per month. On top of making it harder to compete with WIND, Virgin is now more expensive than it's other two competitors: Fido and Koodo.
Note: Folks in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec enjoy different (usually lower) pricing than the rest of Canada. If you live in these regions, follow the data links at the top of each table and select your province at the top of the page.
*WIND's 5GB plan is $39 until Jan 31.
1GB is about as close to a standard entry point as the mobile plan industry has. This will get you some moderate daily usage, but still try to steer clear of things like YouTube, or music streaming services. You'll also want to make sure any updates or downloads happen over WiFi.
2GB is where you can start to breathe a little easier, and where WIND's range of plans begins. Occasional music streaming is fine, as are smaller app updates and downloads.
3GB and up is for people that use the internet heavily every day. If you're one of these people you probably know that you are, but still beware of HD video streams and some mobile games.
These plans are for people that don't, or rarely use the internet. If you have mobile broadband switched on at all, you will need at least some form of data cap. Notifications for web apps use data, as does GPS and quite a few other background operations. 100MB is the absolute least you could get by with if you have a smartphone with mobile broadband switched on, but you're better off going higher, even if you never actively use the internet when out and about.
500MB will get you some very light, occasional browsing and social media usage. 750MB slightly more, but still be careful and keep an eye on the meter.
Virgin Mobile is owned by Bell, and runs over the Bell network. That means all the 4G LTE and national coverage that Bell offers, but for a lower price than the parent network asks for on its own plans.
WIND operates over its own, smaller network, which is currently focused on Canada's larger population centers. It has announced plans to build a 4G LTE network, but currently is restricted to the slower HSPA+ technology. You can still use the internet just fine in WIND-supported areas, but with a speed closer to 3G, than 4G LTE.
There are two checks you should make before signing up to a new plan. These will help you get an approximate picture of the kind of mobile service you can expect.
- Look up a coverage map. Go check out a map of the Bell/Virgin network and find your house and your workplace, and any other places you often go to. Do the same for WIND and compare the two.
- Ask friends, family, and co-workers. The best way to find out if you'll get decent reception with any network is to ask people that already use it. Check with people that you have to your house, and with any co-workers, how good their reception is. Remember: Bell and Virgin Mobile are the same thing, in terms of connectivity, so ask folks on each. WIND is the fourth-largest carrier, so it shouldn't be hard finding anyone with a WIND plan, either.
So how do I choose?
If you think you will get good coverage with one carrier, but not the other, the choice is already made for you. No deal, no matter how cheap, is worth it if you can't use what you pay for.
On the chance you think you'll get good coverage from both, you have to ask yourself: what is more important to you; fast internet speeds, or saving money? Virgin has a faster network in many areas, and will be more likely to give you better coverage if you travel elsewhere in Canada. WIND is far cheaper, saving you $420 per year for the 2GB plan alone.
If you still can't choose it's not the end of the world. Both Virgin and WIND are month-to-month providers; they have no lock-in contracts. If you go with one carrier and end up hating it, next month you can switch to the other one.
Just be sure to remember that your first month with most carriers tend to incur an activation fee. In this particular case it's just $15 for Virgin, and $25 for WIND.
If you'd like to compare more BYO cell plans, check out our WIND vs Fido, WIND vs Koodo, Koodo vs Virgin, Fido vs Virgin, and Fido vs Koodo articles. Alternatively, you can compare all BYO cell plans using our search & compare tool. Be sure to pop your province in up the top, select how many minutes and how much data you want, and off you go.