Rogers iPhone plan: a rip-off

Today, Rogers released its data plans for the Apple iPhone in Canada. Consumers will remember that the iPhone was released over a year ago in California and only is now available in Canada with the second-generation version of the iPod/Safari/phone device that now works on the faster 3G network.

The phone is able to connect to the Apple iTunes store and download music, movies, television shows and podcasts over the Rogers network. A fully-functional mobile version of Apple’s Safari web browser also allows users to connect to any website and one can even access flash video via Youtube. AT&T is the official US carrier of the iPhone while Rogers has the exclusive distinction in this country.

Here are the details of the Rogers plan in Canada:

Courtesy: Globe and Mail

If you access the Rogers website, you can see that a blackberry plan that includes 150 minutes and unlimited evenings and weekends costs $45 per month (with 4MB data). The base iPhone plan includes the same voice minutes and 400MB for $60.

However, let’s look at the AT&T website. Adding data to any voice plan costs $30 (or just $35 on its own). Plus data is unlimited (it’s not even capped at the highest Rogers allowance at 2GB).

If I wanted to download five movies a month to my iPhone (2.5 GB data), in the US this would cost me $35 per month in data transfer and I’d still have unlimited data to download 5,10 or 50 more movies if I wanted to get more. In Canada, I’d have to buy the hardly unlimited plan of 2GB for $115 and I’d pay overages on the extra 500MB. Most US customers will pay $40 voice and $30 data per month, still $45 per month shy of the capped maximum Canadian iPhone plan from Rogers.

When the iPhone was to be released in Canada, we had hope that Rogers would finally offer an unlimited data plan to smartphone and Blackberry users. Rogers has fallen far short of these expectations.

Note to Industry Canada: the panel on competitiveness released their recommendations to the Minister yesterday. In Canada, further deregulation, greater spectrum access, Bell and Telus accessing GSM streams, easier access for mobile startups, and greater foreign investment would decrease the iPhone competitive gap that currently rests at (by my calculations above) at $80 at most and $45 at least per month between Canadian and American carriers of the same product.

Note to Rogers: Stop gouging customers. The borders are opening to competition, especially on a product that is part of the new economy (data transfer and products see no borders). Canada’s government is open to leveling the playing filed and fostering increased competition and this lack of market agility on your part shows lawmakers what’s wrong with the system. Consider too that AT&T is also subsidizing $325 per iPhone for their customers because they know this will increase ARPU (average revenue per user) through product loyalty and use. Rogers may be in fact offering the same subsidy for customers since the phone unit is competitively priced. Despite this, AT&T is showing that in the American market they are offering competitive prices in order to offer this product to new customers. Rogers needs to catch up and close this gap or the government should increase our country’s competitiveness in the wireless market.