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Wireless data rip-off's

I just upgraded my Rogers Unlimited*** plan to the “Rogers More Than Unlimited***, But Still Not Quite UNlimited” plan.  The plans aren’t actually called Unlimited*** anymore, either. They’ve now renamed Unlimited*** to Max (it’s still limited to 25Mb, though), and introduced something called Data 100, which is limited to 200Mb and costs $100/month.  Somebody must have talked some sense into those lawyers. 

In general, data plans at Canadian carriers are byzantine.  This is what Rogers’ data plans look like, for instance:

 Plan Name

Monthly Fee

 Data Included Overage 


 $15  1.5  $21/Mb
 Lite  $25  3  $10/Mb
 Plus  $40  7  $6/Mb
 Max  $60  25  $7/Mb
 Data 100  $100  200  $5/Mb

Lite, Plus and Max… sounds more like a feminine hygiene product, or a package of cigarettes than a wireless data plan, doesn’t it? Do you suppose they have a Menthol too?  In any case, it’s clear from the overage fees, that they are actively discouraging people from buying the small plans.  In fact, for a couple of our test Blackberries, we mistakenly bought the small plans, and were hit with hundreds of dollars in overage in the first month. 

Telus’ plans are only marginally better.  They’ve dumped the small plans altogether, and have a $40, $60 and $100 plan, each of which offer a slightly better monthly maximum than Rogers.  So, for instance, the Telus $100 plan includes 250M of data, rather than 200.  Bell Mobility’s plan is identical to Telus.

In contrast, south of the border Cingular offers a true unlimited plan for $59.99/month if you plan to use it with a laptop, or $49.99 for a Blackberry or PDA.  Verizon has an unlimited plan for $59.99 too.

Where they really get you, though, is on the roaming.  Rogers’ roaming rates are $.05/kb, for most of the US.  That’s $51/Mb!  Telus’ roaming rates seem a little more reasonable at $.01/k (in addition to your regular rate in Canada), until you read the fine print where they tell you that roaming on a PCS network will cost you $0.95/minute for data. 

As crazy as it seems, Canadians who travel regularly to the US are likely better to get a US unlimited data plan and a PC card for travelling than to roam their Canadian plans, especially if you have two or three users, and can share the card. 

What a country, eh?

{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Alec December 17, 2006, 5:44 pm

    It boggles the mind Jim. Moreover, as you point out, the only way to get the information you need is to talk to a human being. And just try cancelling one of the extras. There's one rep to deal with voice, and another to deal with data.

  • Alec December 17, 2006, 7:03 pm

    Jason, are you saying that you live in Canada, and have a T-Mobile berry? If so, that's remarkable.

  • Jason Yeung December 17, 2006, 8:09 pm

    Yes – as I have found it to be significantly cheaper. I originally had service with Rogers Wireless, but dropped it after $800 in data overages. Ridiculously high data pricing is really limiting the potential of smartphones and Blackberrys. In the US, I see carriers like Sprint offering TV service or EVDO internet over these devices. In Canada though, I dare not try to tether a Canadian smartphone to my laptop unless I want to receive a huge bill.

  • Jason Yeung December 17, 2006, 8:30 pm

    And by the way, Rogers still calls it Unlimited Data in some places. One of my friends got fooled when signing up as on the Rogers site there's the following plan (it's on the checkout screen when you try and buy a BB):

    $90/mth Unltd Data and 350 Wkday & Unltd Eve & Wknd Min

    There's no asterisk anywhere to signify limitations to Unltd Data…but I guess they can say Unltd doesn't mean Unlimited.

  • Jim Courtney December 17, 2006, 9:18 pm

    Two comments, based on my experience adding Blackberry to my plan:

    1. What you have quoted are My Mail data plans for non-Blackberry devices such as Treo and othe Windows Mobile devices; Blackberry devices (probably except for Pearl) can only be used with the Max and Data 100 plans.

    2. For consumer devices they also have what is called a “Navigate Mobile Internet” plan that is $5.00 per month for 2 MB and $0.03 per KB for additional usage (yep, $30/MB). Or you can get a “Value Pack” that includes phone features (vm, call display, etc.), 2500 sent text messages and 1,000 sent pictures/video messages (how is that differentiated from other “data”?) for $20 per month. Up until a month ago, this Navigate Mobile Internet was $3 per month for 0.5MB and $.05 per KB for additional; there was a $7 per month option for 1MB also.

    It’s really very confusing to figure out and you have to tallk to a customer service rep to get all the details but the bottom line is they do increase ARPU significantly. Now if we could get Rogers to create a website that actually allows you to figure it out and order on your own, they could actually reduce customer service costs … (hint — and maybe data plan costs) but, of course, website usability is not one of Rogers’ fortés.

  • Jason Yeung December 17, 2006, 10:09 pm

    I’ve found it a lot cheaper for me to use T-Mobile and roam. Been doing this for approximately 8 months, and not a peep from them. Their unlimited Blackberry plan (if you take a voice plan, and yes, it’s truly unlimited) is $19 USD. Otherwise, it’s $29. Add on Unlimited International Roaming for another $19. and for $49, you effectively get unlimited Blackberry usage anywhere you want.

  • Frank December 18, 2006, 12:02 am

    I believe the “Unlimited International Roaming” from T-Mobile only includes e-mail, not web browsing.


  • Jason Yeung December 18, 2006, 12:11 am

    I’ve heard it works for web browsing for some people who don’t use BES – but it doesn’t appear to affect me as I use it off of a BES and they apparently can’t tell the difference.

  • Alec December 18, 2006, 6:51 am

    I’ll have to investigate that. My bills are horrendous.

  • Martin Dufort December 18, 2006, 11:50 am

    And for any company that are pushing for more intelligent access to data via smartphones, these overage charges are nothing to help especially in Canada. But Jason, don’t you have to supply a US-based address in order to get TMobile service….

    Thanks for all the nice info Alec and Jason. Very helpful

  • Jason Yeung December 18, 2006, 4:08 pm

    Yes, you do. In my case, I have a location in the US. But if you don’t, you can easily get a cheap mail forwarding service to do the job for you. It’ll still be cheaper than paying overages.

    If you travel to the US, you can do it in person at a T-Mobile store…they accepted my Canadian SIN card and Ontario driver’s license as proof of ID and I walked out with a new Blackberry.

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