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You’re not my buddy, Rogers.
Canadians have been waiting for the iPhone for more than a year. But now, with the phone set to arrive in Canadian stores on July 11, anticipation has been replaced with disappointment and anger.
Why the bad feelings? Because Rogers Wireless, the only provider (along with it’s subsidiary, Fido) with the GSM technology needed to use the phone, has announced data plans for the iPhone that are leaving many potential customers scratching their heads.
Canadians have always paid more for both their voice and data plans, regardless of their provider, compared to almost every developed country in the world. But the iPhone’s data-centric feature set and innovative design led many to believe that change was in the air.
Instead, Canadian iPhone fans got more of the same, with plans that ranged from $60 for 400 megabytes to $115 for 2 gigabytes of data usage. Users are locked into a three year contract, and no unlimited plan was offered. Response online was swift.
“Not only do they roll out the most ridiculous of rate plans, compared to practically any other first world country, but they leave their current clients scratching their heads wondering if they’ll be part of the spectacle that will be July 11th in Canada. I, for one, will NOT be a part of the spectacle,” Vancouver blogger and social media expert ,Tanya Davis said on her blog, netchick.ca.
And she wasn’t alone in her dismay with the new plans. John Biehler, who bought and unlocked the first-gen iPhone soon after it came out last year, is wary of how a crippling lack of an unlimited data plan will be for users.
“Rogers missed a huge opportunity to get a lot of new customers by not offering some form of unlimited data plan. The App Store alone will most likely consume a lot of data simply browsing it, let alone downloading any of the apps. Combine that with the GPS feature of the iPhone 3G and users will be using a ton of data, and they haven't even checked their email yet,” Beihler said.
Data use isn’t the only reason, Canadians are disappointed with Rogers’ plans. Tim Bray, Director of Web Technologies at Sun Microsystems, is concerned that those who travel will be unfairly penalized by restrictive data usage rates.
“Those of us who need the mobile Web access the most are those who travel a lot, and Canadians who travel a lot tend to travel to the States a lot. Unless there's some sort of sensible cross-border data plan, the iPhone just isn't an option for me,” Bray said.
But not everyone who buys the iPhone is expecting a higher bill from Rogers. For some, the new plans will actually mean substantial savings.
“For me, it’s much better than what I’m shelling out now. I’d save nearly $100/month,” broadcaster and blogger Tod Maffin said.
Maffin is currently paying $100 for 200 megabytes of data, along with additional voice and texting fees that push his monthly bill up to $172. With the cheapest iPhone 3G plan, he’ll get 400 megabytes of data, along with more voice options for $75.
But for many, the giddy thrill of lining up for an iPhone on July 11 has now been replaced with anger and contempt. Rogers and Apple have been preparing their retail staff to deal with an onslaught of new customers, but the new data rates may inadvertently put a damper, not only on the enthusiasm of Canadian iPhone fans, but on sales as well.