Everybody needs a phone. These days, you have many choices. You can get a phone at your home (land line) and/or a wireless cell phone.

» Home Phone

Your home may already have a phone service, but you may have to get a new service, or have the line in your home activated. Most home phone services cost about $30 per month, plus $5 to $10 extra for each special feature such as call waiting (a signal that someone else is calling you when you are already on the phone), call display (your phone shows the name and number of the person who is calling you before your answer), or call answer (an answering machine through the phone). There are other extra fees from the government and taxes on your phone service, so when the phone company tells you a price, it will really be higher. It can take 24 to 48 hours or more for your phone service to begin. Also, all the phone companies charge you for activation or installation or making changes, and you may have to pay a deposit of up to $200 for your phone service.

In Montreal, you can get home phone service from at least three different big communications companies.

  • Bell Canada:  514-310-BELL (2355). Bell is the original big phone company, most home phones are from Bell Canada. If you have problems with your phone, call 611.
  • Videotron: (514) 281-1711. Videotron is the largest cable TV company in Quebec, and they started providing home phone service a few years ago.

» Finding Phone Numbers

The telephone directory in Montreal comes in two books: the “White Pages” and the “Yellow Pages”. All the residential phone numbers in Montreal and the area are listed in alphabetical order in the White Pages. You can also look up phone numbers on the internet at Canada 411.

The Yellow Pages lists of all the businesses in Montreal. It is in two parts, French and English. It is organized by category. For example, if you want a pizza, look up “pizza” in the Yellow Pages, and you will find a list of all the pizza restaurants in Montreal. In the middle of the Yellow Pages, there is a thin section called the “Blue Pages”. Here, you will find all the phone numbers for the governments of Canada, Quebec, and the city of Montreal. In the back, there is an alphabetical list of all the business phone numbers in Montreal. The Yellow Pages also have web sites:

If you want to know a number, and you don’t have a phone book or internet, you can call 411 to get directory assistance in Montreal. If you want to know a long-distance number in North America, dial: 1 + area code + 555-1212. You will pay a charge every time you call directory assistance.

» Special Numbers

  • 911 is the emergency number in Canada for police, fire and ambulance
  • 411 is the number for directory assistance to find a phone number (you have to pay)
  • 311 is the number for information from the City of Montreal

Toll-Free means you don’t have to pay long distance charges when you call a number. You can always tell a toll-free number because it starts with 1-800-  or 1-866- or 1-877- or 1-888-

Some numbers you call charge you extra for every minute you are on. These are services for technical assistance for your computer, or psychics or dating services or phone sex. These numbers always start with 1-900- or 1-976-. Be careful, because these services can charge $5.00 or more per minute!

» Special Home Phone Services

For extra charges every month, you can get special services for your phone. Here are some of them:

  • Call Answer is a voicemail system for your home phone.
  • Call Waiting is when you are on the phone and another person calls, you hear a beep so you can take two calls at the same time.
  • Call Display shows the name and/or number of the person calling, before you answer
  • Call Forwarding forwards a call to another number
  • Call Return tells you what the last number that tried to call your phone was (if you weren’t home). It can also tell you when a busy line you want to call is free.
  • Three-Way Calling lets you have a call with two people at the same time.

If you want to use Call Return just one time dial *69 to know the last number, and *66 to tell you when a busy line is free. For Three-Way Calling, dial *71. You have to pay a charge of $1.25 each time you use these services (unless you pay a charge every month of $5 to $7).

» Long Distance Services

Calling home to your country is cheaper today than it used to be. Your home phone or cell phone company may have a long distance plan where you pay one price for a number of minutes every month. Sometimes these plans are good for calling any time, but other plans mean you can only call in the evening or on weekends. You can also have a long distance service from another company than your phone company.

These companies have cheap long distance services you can get, however, the sound quality is not always good and you may not always be able to get through:

» Long Distance Phone Cards

Another way to get cheap long distance is to use phone cards. You can buy many of these cards in many small convenience stores (dépanneurs) for $10 ot $20. Some of them are especially for calling one country or region. Usually, you have to call a local number first, then enter a number on the card, then you dial the long distance phone number. The cards are a cheap way to call, but sometimes they don’t work well (the lines are busy), and they sometimes expire after a few months.

» Public Pay Phones

There are public pay phones in many places in Montreal, including Metro stations, shopping centres, schools and even on the street. Most of the public telephones in Montreal belong to Bell Canada. It costs 50¢ to make a local call on a pay phone.

» Cell Phones (Wireless/Mobile)

Most students like to have a cell phone. If you have a phone from your country, you may be able to use it here in Montreal, but it may be very expensive to use it. Many students change to a local cell phone service. There are four companies that give wireless phone service in Montreal:

All of the wireless phone companies change their prices and services all the time. Check their websites or ask at their stores (there are many stores everywhere) for details. Some of them have free or cheap phones if you agree to pay for one year of service. Ask lots of questions about how the service works, because there are often surprises when you get your bill later.

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