Official Name: Telus Mobility
25 York Street Toronto,
t: +1-866-99-6636 / +1-416-279-8811
Koodo Mobile is a MVNO in Canada started by Telus in 2008 and mostly oriented toward younger customers. Koodo differs from its parent Telus by not requiring a fixed term contract. Koodo currently provides postpaid and prepaid services. Koodo uses the concept of a Tab which allows customers to build credit towards new phones. Being a subsidiary of Telus, Koodo has been able to offer extensive coverage and a strong presence in mobile retailers. This allowed Koodo to gain a presence nationwide.
The brand name is a variation of the Ancient Greek word κῦδος, meaning “praise, renown, glory” and more recently “acclaim for something well done”.
Telus Mobility’s competitor, Bell Mobility, had an MVNO partnership with Virgin Group to create Virgin Mobile Canada. This brand was in operation since 2005, and it mainly targeted high school, college and university students. They also had another youth-targeted brand, Solo Mobile, since the summer of 2000. In response, Telus Mobility had a similar but much shorter partnership with the American Amp’d Mobile in 2007 to create a Canadian MVNO. It was ended because the Amp’d Mobile operations in the United States suffered from poor customer service and bankruptcy. This meant that unlike Bell, Telus no longer had a mobile brand targeting students.
Koodo Mobile launches (2008-2009)
Nearly a year after the launch day of Amp’d Mobile in Canada, Telus launched Koodo Mobile on March 17, 2008 in Canada. This mobile brand provided services at a lower cost than most other companies.
BlackBerry and transition to HSPA+ (2010)
Many customers at Koodo requested the addition of full QWERTY keyboard devices to facilitate text input for SMS and Internet-based tasks such as email and social networking services. On May 25, 2010, Koodo launched their first smartphone, the BlackBerry Curve 8530. The following month, Koodo released the Nokia 3710 as their first HSPA+ device on June 28, 2010. After this date, the company gradually started to discontinue sales of CDMA devices.
HSPA+ smartphones and Canada-wide monthly plans (2011)
Half a dozen of HSPA+ smartphones were released in 2011. The first was the LG Optimus One, launched on March 2. Later that month, the BlackBerry Curve 9300 was available starting March 23. The Nexus S was added to Koodo’s lineup on April 12, 2011. In order to prepare for the back-to-school season, Koodo discontinued sales of all CDMA devices near the end of June 2011, less than a year after the carrier launched their first HSPA device. Shortly thereafter, they were replaced by the iPhone 4 and two low-cost Android devices.
In addition to revamping their device lineup, Koodo also improved their monthly plans throughout the year. The “City Koodo” plan, which is nearly identical to the CityFido plan offered by Fido, was introduced on March 14, 2011 in select cities. On July 21, 2011, Koodo eliminated all their previous plans, except for City Koodo which is still available in certain cities. Five new Canada-wide plans were launched instead, featuring no long distance charges when a Koodo customer located in Canada calls another standard Canadian landline or mobile phone number.
Plan refreshes, Windows Phone and prepaid service (2012)
Koodo’s postpaid plans were refreshed on February 3, 2012. The prices for all plans other than City Koodo were increased by $5/month, and both the caller ID and voice mail features are now included. Customers activating these plans, however, would now be billed per minute instead of per second.
The Nokia Lumia 610, launched by Koodo on July 6, 2012, was the carrier’s first Windows Phone smartphone. On August 22, 2012 for the back-to-school season, Koodo introduced Koodo Prepaid at its own stores and Walmart. The service requires the customer to pay for a prepaid monthly plan, contrary to most other carriers offering a prepaid plan with no fixed monthly fee. All plans include unlimited SMS and MMS messaging, and all but the lowest priced one also include a period of unlimited local talk time. Two categories of nationwide add-ons, marketed as “boosters”, can be used to add à la carte talk time or mobile broadband. Koodo Prepaid is Canada’s first, and currently the only, provider to offer non-expiring add-ons as long as the monthly fee is paid. Thus, a customer can purchase an add-on in one month but use it over the course of multiple months.
On Black Friday in 2012, Koodo again revamped its postpaid plan lineup. The amount of anytime minutes was reduced in non-unlimited plans, although unlimited weekends was added for the first time to the lowest priced plan. Like its competitor Fido, unlimited text, picture and video messaging was now included in all new plans instead of a 50 sent messages limit. For non-BlackBerry devices, Data Saver is also included with these plans, with charges occurring if any mobile broadband is used.
Mobile services provided by Koodo use Telus Mobility’s CDMA, HSPA+ and LTE networks. CDMA devices, however, have been discontinued by Koodo outside of Northern Ontario and Manitoba. Koodo Mobile’s CDMA and HSPA networks use the 800MHz and 1900MHz frequencies while their LTE network uses 1700/2100MHz (AWS).
Products & Services
When Koodo Mobile was launched in March 2008, they originally only sold feature phones using the CDMA technology. On May 25, 2010, the BlackBerry Curve smartphone was added as Koodo’s first smartphone. When Koodo started selling HSPA+ products and services on June 28, 2010, they slowly discontinued the sale of all CDMA devices over the following twelve months where possible. Such brand new devices are currently only available in the few regions where Telus’ HSPA+ network is unavailable. The use of HSPA+ also allowed Koodo to carry less feature phones and to carry more smartphones. All devices carried by Koodo are, or at least previously were, also available at Telus Mobility.
As a discount carrier, Koodo’s plans tend to cost less per month than the traditional carriers. Plan features can only be used within Canada in locations served by Koodo. The Koodo Tab allows customers to receive a subsidized phone, while the Data Saver add-on is designed to simplify the purchase of mobile Internet services.
Koodo is a discount wireless brand, offering budget plans since its launch, with no activation fee, system access fee or carrier-charged “911 fee”. Per-second billing was also offered at that time. Later, Fido and Solo Mobile mimicked Koodo’s service offerings.
On September 21, 2011, Koodo has revamped and simplified their plans. Long distance charges for calls made from Canada to a Canadian number, or any call received in Canada, have been eliminated on all plans except for City Koodo. The latter plan is similar to competitor Fido’s CityFido plan and is only available in select cities. All the plans except for the lowest priced one included unlimited nights and weekends. Four plans included a certain amount of minutes, billed by the second, while the fifth plan included unlimited minutes.
On February 3, 2012, all of the monthly plans again were changed. The Canada-wide plans increased in price by $5. While they now feature the caller ID and voicemail calling features, per-second billing was replaced with per-minute billing. Also, the new $30/month plan has 100 minutes instead of 150 minutes. The cost of additional minutes has increased from 35¢/min to 45¢/min, and the cost of additional outgoing text messages is now 20¢/text. As well, the roaming rate while in the United States has increased from $1.35/min to $1.50/min. Customers who signed up on February 2, 2012 or earlier are grandfathered with their older plan, and are thus unaffected by these changes unless they switch to a newer plan. These changes were met with criticism with both existing and potential customers, as Koodo’s older plans offered a much better value for airtime. It should be noted that unlimited SMS and MMS are no longer included in the City Koodo plan, because it has been replaced by the new calling features. Only the first 50 messages are free of charge. One must either purchase the unlimited messaging add-on, or pay-per-use, to send additional messages.
Prepaid monthly plans were introduced on August 22, 2012 for the back-to-school season. All plans include unlimited text, and all except the lowest priced one also include a period of unlimited local talk time. Two categories of nationwide add-ons, marketed as “boosters”, can be used to add à la carte minutes or mobile broadband.
All current prepaid and postpaid plans include the caller ID, call waiting, conference call and voicemail calling features. Postpaid customers also have the “Family Calling” feature, which allows unlimited Canada-wide calls to other people on the same account, with up to a total of five people per account. Those wishing to add unlimited sent SMS and MMS to a plan without this feature can do so for an additional $5 per month. With or without this add-on, standard incoming text messages are free.
Various data services are available at Koodo. These include fixed monthly data allowances, unlimited access to certain BlackBerry Internet Service applications, smartphone plans with Internet access included, and more recently the Data Saver add-on.
Fixed allowances are designed for BlackBerry smartphones, or other customers who are consistent in their monthly data usage. Such add-ons include 100 MB, 500 MB or 2 GB of usage. BlackBerry users can also choose an add-on with unlimited on-device use of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), or a BlackBerry Social option with access to certain social networking services and instant messaging applications as well as BBM on their device.
Koodo’s Canada-Wide Data monthly plan is a smartphone plan that includes 1 GB of usage for any phone. iPhone plans for three-year Koodo contracts include either 500 MB or 1 GB of usage. These plans succeed the discontinued “Stay Social Combo” monthly plan, which included BlackBerry Social features for a BlackBerry or a 100 MB allowance for all other phones. Some older customers may have a grandfathered version of this plan, but they will lose it if they switch to a newer plan.
Data Saver allows customers to pay a certain fee and start at the 25 MB tier; if they use more data, they pay a little more and move to the 100 MB, 300 MB, 1 GB or 3 GB tiers depending on their usage. Customers exceeding 3 GB must pay 2¢/MB for additional usage.
Instead of a fixed term contract, Koodo Mobile uses a system called the Tab. A credit check is necessary prior to activation. For a new customer, the Tab takes up to $150 off the price of a new cell phone, by applying this amount as an interest-free loan to their account. Customers will never be billed for this Tab unless they cancel their service with Koodo Mobile. The Tab is paid down monthly by applying 10% of the bill towards the outstanding amount. Anyone using the Tab can pay off the remaining amount ($150 or less) and keep the phone if they decide to leave.
Once the phone has been paid off, the Tab begins to accumulate a positive balance up to a maximum of $150, allowing customers to apply that toward Koodo phones in the future. This is similar to the FidoRewards system used by competitor Fido.
Koodo Mobile was ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Postpaid Wireless Service” in the J. D. Power and Associates 2008 Canadian Wireless Customer Satisfaction Study. The following year, however, Virgin Mobile Canada won the award instead with a lead of 3‰. In 2011, Koodo was awarded J.D Power “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Wireless Providers” title in the province of Ontario. It ranked second place in the Quebec and Atlantic Canada provinces, but lost to Quebec-only provider Vidéotron by a difference of 12‰.
The success Koodo received in its first year of operation, with its simple plan lineup and lack of carrier-charged system access and 911 fees, prompted competitors Rogers Wireless and Bell Mobility to mimic Koodo’s monthly plans via their mobile brands: Fido for Rogers, and Solo Mobile for Bell. These changes happened on November 4, 2008 for Fido, and three days later on November 7 for Solo. Following Bell’s complete acquisition of Virgin Mobile Canada in May 2009, the Virgin brand mimicked several of Koodo’s monthly plans in 2010.
Similarly, when Koodo launched its new Canada-wide plans on July 21, 2011, they were once again mimicked by other mobile brands. Virgin initially offered long distance as a $10 add-on on September 7, 2011, but reduced this fee to $5 about a week later on September 16, and removed it altogether on October 4. This only applies for Virgin’s talk and text plans.
Koodo has been criticized because its character El Tabador said “When you’re looking for a holiday tree” during a commercial for the Christmas and holiday season of 2011. This has become a top concern on the YouTube page of the video, as well as on the company’s Get Satisfaction Internet forum. Koodo responded by stating: “Thank you for everyone’s feedback. We take this matter seriously and will apply what we learned here to all future campaigns.”
Discontinuation of per-second billing
Numerous current and prospective Koodo customers became disappointed and frustrated with the removal of per-second billing on Koodo Mobile’s February 2012 monthly voice plans. Customers were given no advance warnings of these changes, although a third-party blog did provide a leaked brochure of the new per-minute plans. These plans cost $5/month more than their previous counterpart and include the caller ID and voicemail features, but are billed per minute instead of per second. One of the five plans was also lowered to 100 minutes instead of the 150 previously included, but the backlash to this change prompted the company to reverse this decision. Customers on Koodo’s Facebook profile and the operator’s Get Satisfaction Internet forum criticized the removal of per-second billing, perceiving it as “one step forward, two steps back”. Existing customers with old plans are grandfathered with per-second billing, but will receive per-minute billing if they change their plan. There are currently over 100 frustrated customers voicing their support for per-second billing, some threatening to leave the operator. An April Fools’ Day spoof joking about Koodo billing per hour has also been posted by the thread’s creator. The ability to report new problems on Koodo’s forum has been removed as of March 2012, possibly due to the great number of complaints for Koodo discontinuing per-second billing on new plans. Old problems, however, can still be accessed.
Koodo Mobile currently has Toronto-based Taxi 2 as its advertising agency. This team developed the El Tabador character, used since March 2010, to promote the Koodo Tab. The character is a masked male lucha libre wrestler, who has been featured in billboards and also on animated TV ads. The advertising uses a neon colour palette. El Tabador wears the blue and green colours on his mask Wallpapers and screensavers featuring Koodo branding, including El Tabador, can be downloaded from the Koodo website. Screensavers can only be used on Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X operating systems.
Promotional merchandise is offered by Koodo on an occasional basis. This includes anything from hot chocolate pouches to a series of “Mini Muchacho” figurines featuring El Tabador. Also, a reusable shopping bag in one of Koodo’s colours is offered as a complimentary gift with every activation at a corporate store.
Koodo Mobile has its own corporate retail boutiques and also allows third parties to become exclusive dealers. Best Buy, Future Shop, Loblaw Companies and Walmart, London Drugs stores in Canada provide Koodo products and services.
Zellers previously sold Koodo Mobile products. They simply consisted of CDMA feature phones at regular retail price. Activations had to be done online or by phone with Koodo, because Zellers did not provide cellular activations in store. Koodo was later removed from Zellers’ product lineup, although unsold stock remained available at stores that did not return the devices to the operator.
Network: Telus CDMA/HSPA;