A growing number of Manitobans are dialling up big savings on their cell phones by hanging up on Canadian service providers.
Menno Bergen, a farmer in Plum Coulee, Man., has traded in his 204 Manitoba area code for a 701 North Dakota code.
"We used to have the Manitoba stuff, but the roaming and the long-distance charges and the small charges just basically killed us," he said.
Bergen estimates switching service providers saves him $700 a month on five cellphones used at his mixed farming operation. He hasn't thrown away his former MTS cellphones, though.
"Right now, we're paying the minimum because we can't get out of the plan," he said. "Our phones are lying in a box inside the office, not being used."
Myron Penner, a trucker based in Blumenort, Man., pays Verizon $200 a month for 6,000 minutes of talk time anywhere in North America.
"I save approximately $300, $400 a month," over Manitoba service providers, he said. "There's more and more people going south, and if our local phone companies won't step up, they're just going to lose out."
Salespeople at Verizon's outlets in Fargo, N.D., tell CBC dozens of Canadians, mainly truckers, have been signing up for their wireless service every week.
Company spokesman David Clevenger said the company isn't intentionally targeting Canadians, noting that customers must have an address in the United States.
"So it's not a cross-border, Canadian-American issue," he said. "It's just a marketplace issues. It's where we have a licence to provide services."
A spokesperson for MTS Allstream said the company stands by its competitive prices, noting that the company offers local service to its mobile customers.