Buying a mobile phone and/or phone plan

Mobile phone companies offer many different packages and plans for students. Most companies offer a pay-as-you go option and an annual contract option. In Ontario, there are a number of companies to choose from: 


To set up an account or purchase a phone in-person, visit the provider at their store. You may need to make an appointment with the provider. You should present your government-issued photo identification (e.g. passport) and a proof of address. Some providers will run your credit score to verify that you have good credit and pay your bills on time. If you don't have any credit history, or have a bad credit history, the company may place restrictions on your mobile phone usage or may not offer you a phone.

Getting a Canadian phone number while in quarantine

Due to COVID-19, travel and quarantine restrictions are in place. Therefore, you won't be able to visit a mobile phone provider in person until you're 14-day quarantine is over. Consider adding an international plan before departing for Canada so you can use your cellphone upon arrival, or sign up for a pay-as-you-go (prepaid) plan. These plans don't require visiting a store or providing any other documentation. Follow these steps: 

  1. Review and decide which service provider and pre-paid plan best fits your needs. 
  2. Purchase a SIM card through the provider's website and have it mailed to your quarantine address. 
    • In most cases, you should be able to do this before departing Canada and the provider will mail your SIM card within three business days. 
  3. Activate the SIM card and pay-as-you-go plan online while quarantining. 

Calling Cards

Calling cards are pre-paid telephone credits that you can use to phone anywhere in the world. They are usually available in $2.50, $5, $10 and $20 denominations. Calling cards are a cost-effective way of communicating with your contacts outside of Canada.

Calling cards can be purchased in grocery stores and convenience stores, including International News in the Student Life Centre (SLC). Instructions for use are found on the back of each card. Remember, you can always use Skype and other online tools to communicate with your family and friends back home.

Getting internet access

If you live in Waterloo Residences or study on campus, you’ll have access to Waterloo’s wireless internet service (WIFI). Follow these steps for online access: 

  1. Turn on Wi-Fi on your device.
  2. Select "eduroam" from the list of available Wi-Fi networks.
  3. When prompted, enter your full user ID and password. This is the same user ID and password you would use to log into Quest. 
  4. Connect to Wi-Fi.

If you live off-campus, you may have to pay monthly fees to have internet service at home. Bell and Rogers are the two largest internet service providers in Waterloo, however other companies offer competitive pricing. Since all the companies offer comparable services, you’ll have to look into which one best suits your needs. Prices range from $40 to $200 per month, based on which internet package you purchase.