Moving to a Data-Only Mobile Plan

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 6:10 pm

Recently my former cell phone carrier – Public Mobile – proposed a fee increase of 25% (Feb. 15th, 2018) before retracting their proposal the next day in response to over ~1,600 CCTS complaints filed within a day-and-a-half. Their announcement includes the following statement: “While all good things must come to an end at some point – that point is not today.” This really rubbed me the wrong way so I decided to leave them and move to a data-only plan.

Fido, a subsidiary of Rogers, is offering a 3GB for $15 per month bring-your-own-device (BYOD) plan (regularly 2GB; supposedly available only to existing Fido customers but you are able to get it as a new customer if the planets align and you get a kind rep). I will detail my ongoing progress on moving to a data-only mobile plan + VoIP (voice over IP).

Pros and Cons


  • Canada-wide LTE data coverage
  • unlimited outgoing calls to (most) Canada/US numbers, free Canada/US texting (for now with; Fongo is ~$20/year for outgoing texts, but free incoming), voicemail
  • significantly cheaper – roughly $16.08* per month (not including pay-per-use minutes) vs $40 per month
    • *$16.08 = $15 (Fido) + $0.85 USD (
  • no sacrifice in data coverage (Rogers network)
  • you can call and text using your phone number anywhere where you have data coverage or WiFi
  • flexible as essentially you’re building your own plan
  • potential to encrypt all data transmissions from your phone (using VPN)
  • ability to use it with a Rogers MasterCard and get the $29 MasterCard annual fee waived


  • with VoIP, SMS short codes and MMS will likely not work (used for online account verification by some sites, e.g. Twitter)
  • mobile softphone apps may consume more battery (if they don’t support push-notifications)
  • VoIP call quality may be inconsistent based on data coverage/WiFi network
  • leaving a comfort zone in having my mobile plan largely managed for me
  • if porting your number, be prepared to be without SMS for up to 4 business days (if porting to
    • my port completed on Monday at 12:30pm with calling working but no SMS; my SMS started working again at 8am on Thursday

How To

1) Get the Fido Data Plan

  1. Stroll into a Fido Store (I went to the one in Eaton Centre near the big fountain) and ask about their 3GB data-only plan (marketed for tablets, but will work for smartphones too). Bring two pieces of ID (e.g. driver’s license and credit card)
    1. If refused for not being an existing Fido customer, go to Wireless Wave or Tbooth
  2. If successful, you will be given a brand-new phone number and be emailed an activation link from Fido
  3. (optional) to avoid accidental overage charges and fees, create and log into your Fido account, contact online support and request that they:
    1. block incoming and outgoing SMS
    2. block incoming and outgoing VOICE
    3. block international data roaming

Doing step #3 will essentially change your SIM card into a data-only service. With Fido, incoming SMS messages are free but if you don’t intend on using the new phone number I recommend blocking the above 3 items just to be safe.


  • $25.00 (one-time Fido activation fee)
  • $15.00 (monthly Fido fee)

2) Free Outgoing Calls: Google Hangouts

  1. Install the Android Hangouts Dialer app in order to make free outgoing calls to (most) US/Canadian numbers (iOS: you can try the Hangouts app)
  2. (recommended) Verify your number in order to have your number show on caller ID and have people able to call you back (if not, people will see an unlisted number calling them)
    1. I recommend doing this BEFORE porting your number over to a VoIP provider, as some VoIP providers have issues receiving SMS short codes

If you stop here, you have a device with data and the ability to make outgoing calls. You are unable to receive incoming calls or text messages. The total cost would be $25.00 (activation fee) and an ongoing $15.00 per month (Fido service). You could use other apps to make calls/receive messages (e.g. Telegram), however they may be linked to your current phone number meaning you may be unable to use them unless you port your number over.

In most cases you would want to get VoIP (and port your existing number over).

3) Get VoIP

I would highly recommend trying out Fongo for free before doing anything else. If you get a lot of incoming calls, you may want to opt to get an unlimited package from a VoIP provider for a slightly higher monthly price.

  1. If you are able to get a Fido SIM card, create an account on or another VoIP provider (e.g. Fongo):
    1. Fongo is easier to use than and provides an app. Porting your number to Fongo is a $25 one-time fee. They offer free calling and free incoming texts, but outgoing texts cost “a nominal fee” (I believe $20/year). Instead of sending texts you can always send it through other apps (e.g. WhatsApp)
    2. is more advanced and offers more features (a cool one is voicemail-to-email) and more server locations than Fongo. You will need to install a softphone client and/or the SMS app (SMS is currently free “until further notice”).
      1. If you find you receive a lot of incoming calls, you have the option of switching to unlimited incoming calling for $4.25 USD/month
  2. I would recommend you test out the services with a free (Fongo) or new ( phone number before deciding to port your number (which will effectively terminate your account with your existing carrier)

Being up for a challenge, I went with, so the associated cost is a $25.00 USD one-time fee in order to have an account balance ($25.00 USD is the minimum).

4) Port Your Number

If you are happy with the VoIP service (I’d recommend trying Fongo first, then if you’re unhappy with Fongo), the next step is to port your existing number to the VoIP provider (important: do not cancel your existing service until the port is complete):

  1. Read through the documentation for porting your existing number to: ($8.75 USD deducted from your account balance) or Fongo ($25.00)
    1. Note: to port from Public Mobile to, you must use your Public Mobile account number as your IMEI number. The same may apply if you are porting to Fongo
  2. In submitting a port request, you will probably be asked to print, hand-sign, and scan/take a photo of statements from your phone carrier which show your mailing address and account number for verification
  3. Porting should take 3-4 business days (Fongo) or 7 days ( – the estimate that I received). Of course this varies depending on your carrier’s response time/co-operation, or if you need to re-submit verification
  4. (recommended) Once ported, verify your newly ported number with the Hangouts Dialer app

If you went with Fongo, you’re off to the races! Just download the Fongo app and log in.

If you went with, there’s a bit of work we need to do.

5) Configure

Instead of logging into VoIP clients using your main account, let’s create a subaccount. The benefit of this is if malicious VoIP clients steal your login information, they won’t have full access to your account

  1. Go to
    1. Protocol: SIP
    2. Authentication Type: User/Password Authentication
    3. Enter your desired username and password
    4. Device Type: ATA device, IP Phone or Softphone
    5. CallerID Number: your 10-digit number
    6. Canada Routing: Value (up to you)
    7. International Route: Value
    8. Allow International Calls: No (up to you)
    9. Allow *225 for Balance: No (up to you)
    10. Music on Hold: No Music

Next, let’s create a voicemail account:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on “Create New Voicemail Account”
    1. Voicemail Number: enter a value from 1-10
    2. Name: what you’d like this voicemail account to be called (visible only to you)
    3. Password: enter 4 digits
    4. Skip Password Prompt: Yes (up to you)
    5. Notification Email: set this to your email; this is a handy feature where you will be notified if someone leaves a voicemail
      1. If set, a “Delete Voicemail Message” option will appear below, I recommend setting this to No.

Next let’s modify our phone number to use our newly created voicemail:

  1. Go to Manage DID Numbers and edit your phone number
  2. Under “Routing”, for “Voicemail” select your voicemail account
  3. Underneath the “Routing” options, for “Voice Mail”, select your voicemail account
  4. If you haven’t already, select a server location closest to you (if you are able to, set up your mobile device as a hotspot using your data provider (e.g. Fido), connect to it with a computer, open up Command Prompt/Terminal and ping the servers (e.g. ping and choose the one with the lowest average duration)
  5. Click on “Click here to apply changes”

Note: ignore the “SMS URL Callback” option in the above screenshot. Follow section #7 below to configure SMS.

6) Configure Softphone App (for

  1. Download Linphone from the Google Play Store
  2. Install and open it
  3. Tap “Use SIP Account”
  4. Username: enter your subaccount username (e.g. 123123_username)
  5. Password: your subaccount password
  6. Domain: your chosen server via the portal (e.g.
  7. Transport: TCP
  8. Tap “Login”

Linphone is working fine for me, but if you are unhappy with Linphone or want to try another app, you can also try Zoiper (another Android softphone client). If you do, please uninstall Linphone prior to trying Zoiper out to avoid conflicts:

  1. Download Zoiper from the Google Play Store
  2. Install and open it
  3. You’ll be presented with a login screen:
    1. Username: enter your subaccount username (e.g. 123123_username), appended by (e.g.
    2. Password: your subaccount password
  4. Next, you’ll see a screen asking you to confirm the server, you can tap “Next”
  5. The next screen will ask if outgoing data uses authentication/proxy, tap “Skip”
  6. Zoiper will run some tests, select “SIP (TCP)”
  7. It should successfully register with
  8. Go to Settings => Audio, and uncheck “Echo Cancellation”
  9. Go to Settings => Advanced, and uncheck “Send Google Analytics”

I recommend using the softphone app only for incoming calls; for outgoing calls, use Hangouts Dialer if possible (free outgoing calls to US/Canada).

7) Configure SMS (for

  1. Download SMS from the Google Play Store
  2. Follow the Quick Start steps here to get it up and running
  3. Note – “For Ported In Numbers compatible with the feature: The SMS Functionality will be available up to 48 hours after the porting process is marked as Completed.” (source)
    1. So if you receive a “Failed to send message. The API returned an error: sms_failed. (303)” message when trying to send a text via the SMS app, you may need to wait 48 hours 4 business days (updated based on my correspondence with a rep) from when the port for your number was marked as completed. Keep trying until it works.
    2. For me, my port completed on Monday at 12:30pm, and SMS only started working for me on Thursday at 8am.

If Travelling Outside of Canada

If you’re travelling outside of Canada, you will likely not have any issues if you connect to a wifi network. However for more flexibility, you may want to purchase a data-only SIM card for the duration of your stay.

Remember the best practice: use Google Hangouts to make free, unlimited outgoing calls to (most of) Canada/US. And look into using other messaging apps in order to call people over data (e.g. Skype, WhatsApp, Signal) if they are not in Canada/US.

Summary of Costs


  • $25.00 (Fido activation fee)
  • $25.00 USD (load account balance)
    • $8.75 USD (porting to fee – deducted from above balance)
    • $0.40 ( set up fee)


  • $15.00 (monthly Fido fee)
  • $0.85 USD (monthly fee)
  • Incoming Calls: $0.009/minute (full list of Canadian rates)
  • ( Outgoing Calls: $0.0052/minute) I plan on using Hangouts Dialer for free outgoing calls, but just wanted to list the rate for informational purposes