There are many ways you can stay in touch with your friends and family while you are studying at UBC.

Mobile phones

Depending on where you are from, you might find Canadian cell phone services more expensive than you are used to. Providers typically charge for incoming calls, whereas in many other countries incoming calls are free and you only pay for outgoing calls. Additionally, a system access fee is often added to your monthly bill and you typically pay extra for services such as voice mail and roaming. Getting a Canadian phone: A newcomer’s guide to understanding Canadian cell phones explains a few important concepts about Canadian mobile phone plans. 

SIM Cards

As long as your phone is unlocked (not restricted to a particular provider), you can use compatible SIM cards if your device is compatible with the mobile network.  If you are buying a new phone here in Canada, ask if the phone is unlocked, otherwise you will be tied to a proprietary SIM card for that phone provider.


It is worth researching both contract and "pay as you go" plans offered by companies before buying a new phone. Many providers offer back-to-school deals as well. You can check the Wikipedia entry about Canadian mobile phone providers, some of which are listed below:

The big 3 carriers:

Other carriers include:

Please note: you’ll need to show two pieces of identification (ID) before you can get a contract.


Landlines are phones with a physical connection to a network. In many households, landlines have been replaced by mobile phones, but you may wish to consider having a landline as well, especially if you’re able to share costs with roommates. Local calls from landlines are free of charge, to both local landlines and local cell phones. Major service providers include:

Internet calls

Using a service like Skype on your computer can also save you money; especially on long-distance calls. The quality of the call can be variable depending on your connection speed. If you have your own laptop, Vancouver has a huge range of WiFi spots and the UBC campus is covered with wireless networks for students.

Prepaid phone cards

Prepaid phone cards, both virtual and physical, enable you to call for a certain period of time at a set rate per minute. These can be bought online or in phone stores. 

Internet Providers

Students may select internet providers from a number of companies, either as standalone offers or as bundles with other services such as TV, mobile phone or land lines. The usual large telecom companies provide these services as well as various resellers or regional providers that may only be available in certain areas or servicing specific buildings/larger apartment complexes. Students should compare where they may find a good deal and can often benefit from student discounts these companies may provide.

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies does not recommend any commercial enterprises but provides this list of local services for information only.