Rogers Finally Offering Unlimited Data

This doesn’t really fall within the scope of things I usually talk about on this blog, but I do think it’s worth noting that Rogers – possibly Canada’s largest wireless provider – is finally offering an unlimited data plan, sort of.

I would normally start a post like this with something to the affect of “Rogers doesn’t need free publicity from me but…”, in this case, I think they could use all the publicity they can get. Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but I haven’t seen or heard anything about this, I just kinda stumbled across it.

Anyways, Rogers is calling this service “Unlimited On-Device Mobile browsing” and as Ars Technica points out this does not include text or picture messaging, even though they are technically “data” they are limitted to 2,500 and 1,000 respectively. Ars makes a big deal about this, but in my opinion it’s a bit of a moot point. Incoming text messages have been unlimited for at least a year and if you’re sending more than 83 text messages per day you really need to get a life.

Here’s what really confused me, the product copy reads a bit like a Dungeons & Dragons manual (in the bad way):

NEW! Unlimited On-Device Mobile Browsing Plan provides:

  • Unlimited on-device mobile Internet access to your favourite social communities like Facebook & MySpace, news, sports and entertainment sites all on the go for one flat monthly fee!
  • Access to search the mobile Internet with Yahoo! Search and Google, plus access sites like Yahoo! Canada, Canada.com, Windows Live, The Weather Network, Lavalife Mobile and more!

The first 4 times I read this, it sounded like there was a white-list of partner sites that you would have unlimited access to and if you accidentally visit another site you’d be dinged with the standard $0.05/kb charge. I had to call a Roger’s rep to confirm that this does in fact meant unlimited browsing on my phone, period. She assured me it did.

I want to emphasize that I think this is really a major step forward in the Canadian cell phone industry. The $0.05/kb data charge has always bothered me on principle alone. For those of you who have never done the math $0.05/kB works out to $52,428.80 per gigabyte!!! Fifty-two thousand four-hundred twenty-eight dollars! When you consider that services like Amazon S3 are able to charge $0.18/GB, I find it hard to believe that bandwidth costs Rogers anymore than $5.00/GB tops, even when you factor in the cost of maintaining a cell phone network. Honestly, charging this much should be illegal. But, I am glad to see that they’re finally smartening up.

Oh yeah, this new service plan does not cover PCs tethered to phones, un-approved phones (like the iPhone), or any smart phones. Customers using those devices are still getting raped.

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