CBC reports this evening that the RCMP is seeking backdoor wiretap access to Blackberry devices. The law enforcement agency is concerned that email messaging with the Blackberry is secure and encrypted which raises fears that it is widely used by criminal elements. Liberal MP Marlene Jennings touts her lawful access […]
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Appeared in the Toronto Star on July 23, 2007 as Time to Revamp Mobile Internet Pricing The promise of an always-on mobile Internet – delivered through cellphones and wireless devices – has long been touted as the next stage in the evolution of electronic communication and commerce. That next stage […]
My weekly Law Bytes column (Ottawa Citizen version, Toronto Star version, homepage version) focuses on the mobile Internet in Canada, arguing that we are falling behind even developing countries as a consequence of overpriced mobile data services in our cozy, uncompetitive market. Until recently, the conventional wisdom held that there were two barriers – technology and cost – to the emergence of widespread mobile Internet use. From a technological perspective, most cellphones and wireless devices could manage email and text messaging, but were ill-suited for the full Internet experience including browsing and Internet video. That technology barrier has largely been eliminated, fuelled by popularity of devices such as the Apple iPhone.
The cost barrier still looms large, however. Canadian carriers have treated mobile Internet use as a business product, establishing pricing plans that force most consumers to frugally conserve their time online. Indeed, the mobile Internet in Canada is reminiscent of Internet access in the mid-1990s, when dial-up access dominated the market and consumers paid by the minute for their time online.
For example, Rogers – Canada's sole GSM provider and therefore the only telecom company currently equipped to offer the iPhone – offers a starter data plan that provides 1.5 megabytes of data per month for $15 (each additional MB is $21). Since that is not even enough data to download a single high-resolution photograph, most consumers presumably opt for more. The company's biggest data plan provides 500 MB, yet costs $210 per month – far beyond the reach of most consumers.
This pricing, which is comparable to plans found with Bell and Telus, is not close to competitive internationally.