It was hard not to get caught up in the excitement over the Nexus One announcement at the beginning of this week.  With pundits declaring that Google’s entry into the smartphone market would be a game changer, and reviewers claiming that Nexus One was like an open Apple iPhone, the hype meter was fairly off the charts! 

Disappointingly, Canadians making a trip to the Nexus One web page were confronted by a notice stating that the phone was not yet available in Canada.  No matter, many of us said, we’ll just buy it on eBay.

That might not be such a good idea. 

The patchwork of 3G bands emerging in North America makes the Nexus One a very poor phone for most Canadian mobile customers. Rogers, Telus and Bell operate on 850Mhz and 1900Mhz frequencies, while the Nexus One operates on 2100Mhz, 1700Mhz, and 900Mhz.  For Canadian customers of the big 3 carriers, high speed data on Nexus One will not be available.

There is a ray of hope for Canadians who want a Nexus One.  One carrier in Canada providing service on the 1700Mhz AWS band today is Wind Mobile.  The as yet unlaunched DAVE Wireless will also apparently provide 1700Mhz service. 

Frankly, the most deflating part of this launch story is that 3G hasn’t meant an intelligent rationalization of frequencies.  We remain mired in the tar-pit of frequency allocation strategies, driving up handset costs in order to support roaming and effectively locking specific devices to specific carrier networks.




My venerable BlackBerry Curve has just come out of contract with Rogers, so I’m in the market for a new BlackBerry and my pals at RIM tell me that the BlackBerry 9700 “Onyx” is the one to have.  Not only that, but here in Canada Telus and Bell have both just launched new HSPA+ networks that compete directly with Rogers.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, there’s no way you could have missed the full page ads that Bell has been running in the papers.

Identical networks, identical phones… it seems like an ideal opportunity to compare service providers, no?

On the surface, it looks as if Bell and Telus are getting really aggressive.  Bell’s price for the 9700 is $229, Telus’ $249, and Rogers $299. Winner, Bell!

And what about the plans?

My experience on iPhone has shown me that I’m not a super heavy mobile data user, and I’ve got a 3G stick so I don’t need to tether to my laptop. I’m looking for a modest number of minutes that can be used throughout North America, and a data plan that will give me between 500M and 1G of usage in any month.

  • For $40/month Rogers offers 450 local minutes.  1G of data is an additional $30, and North American long distance is $25, bringing the total to $95, plus taxes, fees and so on.
  • For $65/month Telus offers 450 local minutes plus 1G of data.  Add a North American LD plan for another $35, and the total is $100, plus taxes, fees and so on.
  • For $60/month, Bell offers 600 local minutes, plus 1G of data.  The North American LD plan adds another $30, and that brings the total to $90 per month, plus taxes, fees and the like.

Heavens!  Bell offers more for less money than Telus or Rogers.  Bell wins again!

Even taking into account the $35 activation fee that Telus and Rogers would charge me to switch, over the lifetime of the contract Telus is the most expensive at $3,884, and Bell the cheapest at $3,504.


Note that this doesn’t take into account the fact that Bell has given me an extra 150 minutes of usage per month as well.  Since I rarely exceed 450 minutes per month on this device (my primary phone is the iPhone) it’s unlikely I would need that insurance policy, but it’s certainly nice to have.

When you net it out, I could save $215 over 3 years by switching from Rogers to Bell.  That’s $5.97 per month. 

Is it enough?  For most people, probably not. I might switch this one phone away from Rogers just to see how good the Bell network is, but ordinarily even I wouldn’t consider the switch for $6 per month in savings.

I’m still waiting to see what happens when the real competition starts between these behemoths.


There’s more to Bell and Telus’ announcements than just the iPhone.

October 5, 2009

There was big news here in Soviet Canuckistan today.  Next month, Bell and Telus will both start selling the Apple iPhone.  What?  “How is that possible”, you ask. “Aren’t Bell and Telus tied to ancient CDMA technology?” Both are rolling out network upgrades to HSPA technology in time for the 2010 Olympics, putting them on […]

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Mark Goldberg sets me straight on Canadian rates

August 27, 2009

I was feeling my oats yesterday when I twittered a CBC piece on the high cost of mobile service in Canada.  The CBC piece struck a nerve, as I had just read Andy Abramson’s comparison of US and European mobile operators approach to service.  I have to say, I had no experience like Andy’s last […]

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Make money by upgrading to the iPhone 3GS, only in Canada

August 26, 2009

When was the last time you got paid to upgrade your phone? If you were one of the folks who rushed out and bought an iPhone 3G a year ago, and then watched with dismay as Apple delivered the faster, better, stronger iPhone 3GS this past spring, then you’ll be very interested in this news.  […]

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Canadian broadband needs an upload overhaul.

June 27, 2009

Yesterday YouTube doubled the upload limit available to users in response the increasing number of high definition videos that are being sent to the site.  Now you can upload a 2G file, instead of a 1G file.   YouTube has made it easier to upload a high definition file as well. According to Liz Gannes at […]

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Rogers “Pay As You Go” US roaming

June 25, 2009

The customer service fairy seems to have paid a visit to Rogers recently.  Yesterday, I called and inquired about roaming rates to the US for my trip next week.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that roaming data rates to the US have dropped from $6,000 per gigabyte, and that I could now buy a […]

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Rogers steps for up iPhone 3G customers.

June 19, 2009

Interested in the new iPhone 3GS, but still under that three year contract with Rogers?  Good news.  Last night, via the @RogersHelps twitter account, we learned that Rogers has stepped up and offered some very aggressive discounts. Here’s the message trail from last night that caught my attention. I bought my iPhone in August 2008, […]

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Rogers Home Phone. Too little, too late?

June 15, 2009

Late Friday afternoon, “Mookie” from Rogers called to talk about our phone service.  Rogers is pushing to convert as many of their customers from the incumbent Bell Canada over to Rogers Home Phone.  Rogers has a plan for $30.95 per month which gives you 5 calling features, and 1,000 minutes of long distance in North […]

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Truphone Local Anywhere designed to eliminate roaming charges

February 23, 2009

Truphone’s announcement last week of Truphone Local Anywhere was the formal unveiling of their strategy to become a force in the mobile operator world.  Truphone Local Anywhere will not launch for some months yet, but the essence of it is that Truphone will deliver customers a GSM SIM that can operate locally in multiple countries.  […]

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