It's like they hire their movers by heading down to the nearest detox centre and grabbing whoever stumbles out first.
atara and I went phone shopping on the weekend. We compared the phones and plans offered by our current carrier, and the independent provincial carrier. They both have pluses and minuses.
Rogers has a pretty competitive rate for a shared 10gb plan, and they have the visual voicemail system that we both like. They have the full selection of current phones, and they have a really shitty data plan for travelling to the US. Still, as shitty as their plan is, it also happens to be about the only one available.
MTS has ridiculously cheap data rates for up here (~$35/Mo would give us both unlimited, Canada-wide data). The three downsides are that they offer no data plan for travelers (the rep admitted that our best bet was to buy a burner when we travel to the US), their monthly rate is too low to qualify for a discount on any of the phones, and they only offer their visual voicemail for iPhones (ugh).
The last time our phones came up for renewal, tower coverage was one of our considerations, but when I checked the coverage map last night, it looks like the playing field is pretty even now. Working under the assumption that we would not get a discount on the phones from MTS, the overall cost difference of the two plans over 24 months would be ~$10.
I had a look at a number of the re-sellers (Koodo, Fido, etc), and while their rates are competitive, their phone selection is very limited, and mostly late models.
Finding a cell plan should not be this complicated.