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Networks can provide excellent in-building coverage by means of indoor picocells (or enhancers). Most of the Toronto PCS providers have coverage in Toronto's underground concourses (known as the PATH system) using these picocells. In the absence of such cells however, the ability to penetrate a building is highly dependent upon the proximity of the closest site. You can check my maps to see how close a site is to the building you wish to use your phone in.
Statistically speaking, Rogers (who has the most sites) should provide in-building coverage in more places than Mike (who has the least). However, a secondary factor plays a part here too. Because of the huge number of sites Rogers have, they must greatly reduce the range of each site to avoid interference. This means you must be much closer to one of their sites to get descent in-building signals. Mike can keep the output of their sites relatively high, and you can be further away and still get good in-building coverage.
CDMA systems have one peculiarity that does not affect GSM, IS-136, or iDEN. As the number of subscribers using a particular site goes up, the range of that site goes down. This is difficult to explain without getting into the technical details of CDMA systems. The upshot of this is that what seemed like good in-building coverage one day, may not be so good the next. In-building coverage would suffer the most during rush hour.
The bottom line is: All service providers have their good buildings and their bad buildings. The closer the site is to the building, the better the coverage. No one technology is inherently much better than another, so don't let misinformed souls lead down the garden path on this one.
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Based on that average, we can easily determine how much more airtime you paid for by simply counting the number of individual calls you made during a given month. If you made 150 calls for example, that would use up, on average, an extra 75 minutes of airtime than if you'd been paying by the second.
However, just because you consumed an extra 75 minutes doesn't mean it will actually cost you anything. That depends upon whether you were going over your "bucket of minutes". Say for example your service came with 300 minutes, but you routinely used about 200 of those minutes. If that were the case, then those extra 75 minutes wouldn't have any impact on your bill at all. On the other hand, if you routinely used almost all of your minutes (or sometimes when slightly over), then virtually all of those 75 minutes are going to count against you. You'd either have to pay for them at the cost of overage, or you would need to move up to the next highest package available.
The only way to know for sure if charging by the minute is bad or neutral (because it certainly isn't good), you have to examine your bills and multiply the total number of calls by 30 seconds. Use that figure to see how much extra it would cost you, if anything.
However, being charged by the minute has a psychological impact that isn't obvious from simply working out whether it truly affects your bottom line. Knowing that you will be charged for a full extra minute if you go over a minute boundary makes you far more likely to become a clock-watcher during your calls (utilizing the minute minders that many phones provide). You then start to rush your calls when those beeps sound, and using the phone becomes a less enjoyable experience.
Your monthly rate will not increase over the contract period, provided that you stay on the same rate plan
The phone purchase may be reduced by $50-$150 or more over not signing a contract
You might receive a billing credit a few months into the contract
A network setup charge may not apply ($25-$50)
You might receive bonuses, such as free incoming minutes, caller ID, or voice mail
Phone purchase price likely is higher
There might be a setup charge
You are restricted in your monthly plan for the contract duration (rate increases are permitted, but not decreases)
If you lose or want a new phone, you purchase that phone at the full, non-contract price, if you are still on a contract
If you break the contract then there is a penalty, often the price of the remaining months on the contract
Contracts often require a minimum monthly fee, which might be more minutes or features than you might use