Most hotels in Toronto have some Internet access, and more and more are offering Wi-Fi. Chain hotels usually charge around C$15 per day for Wi-Fi. In boutique hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, Wi-Fi charges are rare. There are many designated Internet cafés around town, or cafés that provide Wi-Fi for customers.
Note that cybercafés frequently change hands and names but often stay in the same location. Rates are usually C$2–C$3 per hour. Two areas are hubs for 24-hour cybercafés: Bloor and Bathurst (heading east) and Church-Wellesley on Yonge. Cybercafes lists more than 4,000 Internet cafés worldwide.
The good news is that you can now make a direct-dial telephone call from virtually any point on earth. The bad news? You can't always do so cheaply. Calling from a hotel is almost always the most expensive option; hotels usually add huge surcharges to all calls, particularly international ones. Calling cards usually keep costs to a minimum but only if you purchase them locally. And then there are mobile phones, which are sometimes more prevalent than landlines; as expensive as mobile phone calls can be, they are still usually a much cheaper option than calling from your hotel.
When you are calling Canada, the country code is 1. The country code is 1 for the United States as well so dialing a Canadian number is like dialing a number long distance in the U.S.—dial 1, followed by the 10-digit number.
Calling Within Canada
Local calls in Canada are exactly the same as local calls in the United States. Despite the ubiquity of cell phones, pay phones still appear every few blocks and take quarters (C50¢ for the first three minutes). Ask at your hotel whether local calls are free—there may be hefty charges for phone use. Buying a prepaid calling card or renting a cell phone may be worthwhile if you plan to make many local calls.
Calling Outside Canada
Calling to the United States from Canada is billed as an international call, even though you don't have to dial anything but 1 and the 10-digit number. Charges can be $1 per minute or more on cell phones. Prepaid calling cards are the best option.
Prepaid phone cards, which can be purchased at convenience stores, are generally the cheapest way to call the United States. You can find cards for as little as C$5 for eight hours of talk time. With these cards, you call a toll-free number, then enter the code from the back of the card. You can buy the cards online before you leave home.
If you have a multiband phone and your service provider uses the world-standard GSM network (as do T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon), you can probably use your phone in Canada. Roaming fees can be steep, however: 99¢ a minute is considered reasonable. And internationally you normally pay the toll charges for incoming calls. It's almost always cheaper to send a text message than to make a call as text messages have a very low set fee (often less than C5¢).
If you just want to make local calls, consider buying a new SIM card (note that your provider may have to unlock your phone for this) and a prepaid service plan in the destination. You'll then have a local number and can make local calls at local rates. If your trip is extensive, you could also simply buy a new cell phone in your destination, as the initial cost will be offset over time. Fido, a Canadian cell-phone company, sells prepaid SIM cards with a rate of C40¢-per-minute for the first five minutes of the day (C20¢-per-minute after that) to the U.S. and long-distance in Canada, but you have to go to a Fido store to buy and install the card.
If you travel internationally frequently, save one of your old mobile phones or buy a cheap one on the Internet; ask your cell phone company to unlock it for you and take it with you as a travel phone, buying a new SIM card with pay-as-you-go service in each destination.
There are plenty of mobile-phone stores in downtown Toronto for renting phones. You can rent cell phones for as little as US$29 per week with Cellular Abroad, but international rates to the U.S. are 66¢ per minute.
Cellular Abroad rents and sells GSM phones and sells SIM cards that work in many countries. Mobal rents mobiles and sells GSM phones with SIM cards (starting at US$29) that will operate in 140 countries. Per-call rates vary throughout the world. Planet Fone rents cell phones, but the per-minute rates are expensive.
Cellular Abroad (800/287–5072. www.cellularabroad.com.)
Fido (218 Yonge St., between Queen and Dundas, Dundas Square Area, ON, M5B 2H6. 416/597–1436. fido.ca.)
Mobal (888/888–9162. www.mobalrental.com.)
Planet Fone (888/988–4777. www.planetfone.com.)
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