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Buying the BlackBerry Onyx: Telus and Bell vs Rogers

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.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Jim Courtney November 13, 2009, 8:48 am

    Alec, you want to ask what happens when you are outside the 3G coverage area of Bell. With Rogers you would fall back to 2G/EDGE whereas on the Bell-Telus network there is no fallback.

    Also in today's papers I notice that Rogers is now providing a plan where you can share your 1GB of data between your smartphone and the Rocket Stick. And there's a line that says, "Now No System Access Fee". Hmmmm.

  • Jason Yeung November 14, 2009, 8:01 pm

    Keep in mind that the TELUS/Bell network has 3G everywhere in the entire old CDMA footprint.

    It's a GOOD thing they don't have a 2G fallback: it means they need 3G everywhere.

    Rogers isn't charging a SAF, but they raised rates and added a regulatory recovery fee.

    – Jason

  • MGU November 15, 2009, 10:23 pm

    Hi Alec, I've been living under a rock! Love, Dad

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