Speakout 7-11 is the best Canadian pre-paid (“pay as you go”) carrier. No contracts, cheap data & texting, all on the Rogers network. Well, until the end of 2012, if you buy $100 worth of airtime, you’ll receive a $25 bonus, and an unlocked Alcatel 356 phone.

You’ve probably seen my previous posts about using an iPhone on SpeakOut. It works well, and with the unlimited texting and data bundles, it’s a bargain.

I tend to buy a $100 top-up voucher whenever I start running low. SpeakOut often has promotions where you can get a free phone or bonus airtime, etc.

Right now, until the end of December 2012, the deal is a free Alcatel 356 phone. It’s a decent ‘burner’ — Qwerty keyboard and a crappy camera. But hey, it’s free.

As a bonus, it’s unlocked. Which means you can use it when travelling to the USA, if you’re so inclined.

To test if the SpeakOut Alcatel 356 was unlocked or not, I put a T-Mobile SIM in there. Yup, works just fine.

This is a Mini-SIM that I have for when I travel to the USA with an unlocked iPhone. I put the Mini-SIM in an adapter (the yellow thing) to try it in the Alcatel 356. Notice that even though it’s a T-Mobile SIM, it will roam on Canada’s Rogers Network.

If you try a Bell or Telus (or Virgin or Koodo) SIM in this phone, it probably won’t work. Not because the phone is locked, but because Bell & Telus don’t really have a standard GSM network in Canada. Their network requires an HSPA or LTE (often known as 3G and 4G) phone to connect.

The Rogers network, on the other hand, does work with standard GSM, GPRS, Edge, HSPA, LTE, etc.