The High Cost of Canadian Wireless

Monday July 09, 2007
The National Post featured a revealing article on the weekend featuring comments from both RIM and Google about the high prices associated with Canadian wireless services, particularly the cost of the data.  The numbers in the article point out that Canada is not even close to being competitive with countries around in the world on data prices, which hurts Blackberry sales and reduces the use of mobile services when compared to other countries.

Another revealing comparison comes for those Canadians dreaming about an Apple iPhone.  In the U.S., the AT&T iPhone plan offers 450 anytime minutes (unused minutes can be rolled over to the next month), 5000 additional night and weekend minutes, and unlimited data for $59.99.  If/when the iPhone makes its way to Canada, Rogers will be the sole carrier given the absence of any competition for GSM services (unless Apple decides to wait for a much-needed fourth carrier following a set-aside for the 2008 spectrum auction, but that is a long time to wait without a guarantee of a set-aside). A comparable plan for Rogers today costs:
  • 500 minutes (Canada-wide, no rollover) - $60
  • 500 additional evening and weekend minutes - $25
  • 500 MB of data (no unlimited data offered) - $210

In other words, a plan from Rogers (Rogers plan in C$, AT&T in US$ but currencies now nearly at par) that offers less than AT&T - the Canadian version does not have unlimited data, does not offer rolled over minutes, and has only 10 percent of the night and weekend minutes - currently runs $295 per month (there is a Blackberry data plan that offers 200 MB for $100 with a three year contract but each additional MB costs $5).  The barrier to the iPhone in Canada is not Apple.  Rather, it is the lack of wireless competition that, as now RIM and Google both note, leads to pricing that places Canadians at a significant disadvantage compared with other developed countries.  Is it any wonder there is a petition calling on Rogers to introduce a more competitive iPhone data plan?

Update: The National Post covers this issue with a direct reference to this posting.