I'm not a Fido employee, but they have the 5s iPhone on right now for $0 down if you agree to a 2 year plan. This is the phone I have that enables me to use wifi calling, and make calls over my home internet connection rather than cellular service.
Like you, I also live in a rural area where the cell signal is spotty at best, and my 5s seems to pick up a cell signal as well as anyone else's cell phone I know. I actually used to have a Blackberry that I really liked, but I was in the same position as you and needed to have a more reliable phone at home in order to communicate with my counselling clients.
The downfall of a 2 year contract is that, even though it would provide you with a free 5s iPhone, it may very well cost more per month than the plan you're on now. If you consider this option, I suggest taking good, close look at the numbers and making sure it's worth it for you before you sign anything. Once you're on a 2 year committment, the only way out is to buy your phone from them.
Actally my location is NOTL area. And come to think of it, after reading your post, my husband's old flip phone seems to work a bit better than mine.
Depending on where in the area you live, there may or may not be other towers which are closer to your location.
Taken from here. I cannot vouch for accuracy.
If there are other towers which are closer to your location, have you tried to turn roaming on? With Extended coverage, there are roaming agreements with other Canadian wireless companies. If you are in an area not covered by Fido/Rogers but is covered by another service, you will roam on their network as Fido-EXT without any additional charge (may be plan dependent). Note however, extended coverage is only meant for short-term use. If you exceed 50% usage within extended coverage, it will be blocked (see here).
Since you do live close to the border, there is the slight possibility that the phone will connect to providers from the US -- which would incur roaming charges. That said, there should be measures in place to prevent that from happening (see here).
Hope some of this helps