A fierce duel is being fought at retail by Telus and Bell. When Bell announced unlimited data plans on HTC Touch devices for $7/month, Telus responded by dropping the price of the Touch to $0. In the last two days there have been full page advertisements offering the device (with certain conditions) from either Bell or Telus for $0, when signing on to a long term contract. At Rogers, the HTC Touch is still a whopping $199… on a three year contract. Presumably, Rogers is keeping its powder dry in anticipation of a 2008 launch of iPhone in Canada. Meanwhile, Bell and Telus are scooping up as many customers as they can with the only viable alternative to iPhone. By locking customers into contracts now, they're hoping that they can make iPhone's Canada debut into little more than a damp squib rather than the explosive market changer it's been elsewhere.
Read the fine print on that unlimited contract carefully, however. As one unlucky Bell subscriber in Alberta recently found out, after receiving an $85,000 data bill from Bell, unlimited doesn't often mean what the dictionary says after a telco lawyer has finished redefining it in the fine print on the contract. Even after Bell's agreement to adjust the price to the best possible rate, he still owes over $3,000. As the Globe pointed out, in the US a plan from Sprint would have only charged him $70 for the same service. Despite the claims to the contrary, Canadian "unlimited" data plans are anything but unlimited. The BBC noted in its coverage of the story that "Canadians complain that their mobile phone charges are much higher for comparable service in the United States."