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$6K per gigabyte? No thanks, Ted.

On Friday, before leaving for San Francisco and the Under the Radar conference, my business partner Howard made a call to Rogers to inquire about US roaming rates for his iPhone.  The good news?  You can buy roaming voice minutes from Rogers.  And, they’ve recently reduced their data roaming charges as well.  How much you ask?  Well, the friendly CSR who answered Howard’s call provided the answer:

“How much data are you likely to consume on your trip, Sir?”, she asked.

“I don’t know”, said Howard.  “How much would a gigabyte cost?”

“Umm….”, came the reply “$6,000.  Let me just double check that for you.  (pause) yes sir, it actually is $6,000”.

For what?  So that AT&T and Rogers can exchange billing records?

Now you know why I’m no fan of locked mobile phones.  Nope, not at all.  I’ll take an unlocked phone over a locked phone any day.

Almost better than getting an unlocked phone, however, is the special pleasure of unhooking a phone from the claws of the grasping carrier who tried to lock you in in the first place.  That’s why this photo makes me so happy. It’s my Rogers iPhone, running on AT&T’s network using an old Cingular SIM that I had.


I have my pal Pat Phelan to thank for this one.  It was he who told me about Rebelsim, and sent me one of their cards.  Rebelsim is a thin, flexible circuit board that you combine with your existing SIM and insert into any mobile.  When the phone queries the SIM to find out which network it’s running on, Rebelsim takes over and passes back the expected network identifier.  Or at least, that’s how it appears.

The net result? I’m using my Rogers iPhone on AT&T’s network, and paying AT&T’s freight instead of $6,000/Gigabyte.  When I get back to Canada, I’ll just pop my Rogers SIM back in and use their much more affordable at-home data service.

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{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Nick Desbarats November 10, 2008, 7:48 am

    Thanks for bringing Rebelsim to my attention. My last trip to the US cost $53 in roaming data charges, even though my usage consisted of checking email without downloading attachments, and looking up a few addresses in Google Maps over the course of 3 days.

    The fact that data roaming is disabled by default shows that even Rogers is scared of customer outrage from anyone who actually tries to use it. Very odd that the carriers can't find some way to make it affordable to more than 2% of their customers.

  • Stephen November 10, 2008, 12:19 pm

    Hey is that a Calliflower app or just A web link button? 😉

    Also what pricing did you get ion at&t's network?

  • Alec November 10, 2008, 1:01 pm

    I'm paying $30/month for 1G of data. Had the account for quite some time.

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