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Canadian Wireless Data Access Worse than Third World Countries
April 9, 2007 10:00 PM   Subscribe

Recent discussion regarding the iPhone availability in Canada (Rogers says they'll carry it - Then denies doing so) has spurred ideas as to what it might cost. This tore open a nasty wound in the hearts of Canadians, having realized that their mobile data access is worse than that of third world countries. A petition has already been started.
posted by patr1ck (29 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I had nothing to do with the petition, so this isn't a self-link. Although I did sign it, as hopeless as it may be... :(
posted by patr1ck at 10:12 PM on April 9, 2007


Canadian consumers: Hey Rogers, your data plans are crap! To show our displeasure, we have signed... this PetitionOnline petition!
Rogers Canada: What the... nooooo! Not a PetitionOnline petition! Please, we'll drop the rates, we'll give you unlimited, we'll give you free iPhones! Whatever you want, it's yours, just please no more of those scaaaary petitions!

Anyways. The quality of data access is dependent on more than price; I'm curious to find out how reliable or fast Rwanda's data services are. Still, data plans are indeed ludicrously expensive in Canada, and anyone who knows anything about what's being offered elsewhere in the world knows North America, and Canada in particular, is a backwater when it comes to cell phones. That's not going to change any time soon, iPhone or no.
posted by chrominance at 10:48 PM on April 9, 2007


mmBeer.
posted by phaedon at 10:55 PM on April 9, 2007


25 MB?!? Hell, that's barely an hour of listening to somafm, and I do that on my t-mobile mda all the time!

The US seems to be a strange outlier on the whole unlimited data plans. It seems uncharacteristic of their usual money grubbing antics.
posted by zabuni at 11:03 PM on April 9, 2007


Um, the iPhone is GSM, so not exaqctly some kind of high tech device broadband device.
posted by Artw at 11:17 PM on April 9, 2007


I hardly think it is fruitful to petition them on the basis of wanting a shiny new gadget.

Infrastructure costs lots to build and maintain, plus the rest of those uppity third-world countries don't have the second largest geographic landmass to cover. This is a huge investment for a national provider without a lot of potential for profit outside of metropolitan areas. The technology is coming slowly, but it is predicated in terms of practicality first.

Sure, it would be great to show your friends in Flin Flon how you can access mefi-music from your iphone, but I think we've got more pressing issues, like getting Bell Canada to axe those stupid beaver commercials.

How about a petition to get those pesky baby seals off my lawn snowbank while you're at it.
posted by isopraxis at 11:29 PM on April 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


You need to band together and picket their head office with nifty signs!

Online petitions are soooo 2005. It's all about mobs and organic again now.

You could even do a "theme" protest and dress up as um er packets of data or something.
posted by gomichild at 11:37 PM on April 9, 2007


dress up as um er packets of data or something

Round of the paws for that one.
posted by Wolof at 12:47 AM on April 10, 2007


Um, the iPhone is GSM, so not exaqctly some kind of high tech device broadband device.

More to the point, it's an EDGE phone, meaning it's not technically 3G. Ironically, given the angle of the original post, one reason why the iPhone may not make it to Canada is because it'll be outdated by the time it gets here; Rogers is busy building a 3G network, and they may want to wait until the iPhone is 3G before they buy in.

It's possible Apple will release the phone in Canada without carrier backing, but the market for full-price, unlocked phones is obviously much smaller than it is in the States, so you'd think if Apple was going to do it anywhere, it'd be down there. Plus there's the whole issue of requiring carrier cooperation for the visual voicemail feature. (And the cost—can you imagine how much an unsubsidized iPhone would cost? Yipes!)
posted by chrominance at 1:56 AM on April 10, 2007


Infrastructure costs lots to build and maintain, plus the rest of those uppity third-world countries don't have the second largest geographic landmass to cover.

Infrastructure costs are a red-herring. If you were to call Canada from the U.S. using T-Mobile (which has a carrier agreement with Rogers) you'd still only be charged what your plan costs, no more or less. If you're in the U.S. on Verizon's network, you'd get charged an additional .002 cents dollars per KB. Yet a Canadian customer in Kingston calling Toronto is charged long-distance fees, plus their $7/MB additional-usage rate.

The problem here is that they have a captive audience. This is a perfect example of why entrenched independent corporate monopolies for public services are a bad thing.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:35 AM on April 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


So Rogers still sucks. Good to know. I'm sure this online petition will be as successful as all the other ones.
posted by chunking express at 6:11 AM on April 10, 2007


I remember working at Rogers and having to deal with customers who were angry about Rogers' ridiculously-overpriced data plans (or the "unlimited bandwidth" option that isn't actually unlimited.... wtf Rogers?!), because they'd used a cell phone in another country and were used to paying reasonable rates for a data plan. I seriously wish the CRTC would do something about this.
posted by Menomena at 6:44 AM on April 10, 2007


My brother made the mistake of turning on email polling on his Rogers phone about six months ago. Nothing excessive, simply a POP mail check every 15 minutes, no downloading of attachments. His bill that month exceeded $300.

Canada is in desparate need of a cell phone price war. We've got two fat & happy cats, who have bought up or pushed out all their competitors and kept rates sky-high on all services, not just data use. Deregulation of ownership is what we need as the CRTC auctions off more frequency space. The CRTC should allow the American and British players in our market. It won't be a full solution, but it will be a start.
posted by bonehead at 6:45 AM on April 10, 2007


Things might get better now that you can move your cell phone number between carriers.
posted by chunking express at 6:59 AM on April 10, 2007


Our office bought two MotoQs before Christmas from Aliant (Bell). My supervisor, being the techno wizard, opted for the 10MB data plan. Our first bill was about $3000, just in data charges. I got them to retroactively put us on the 250MB plan, which was only $50 more than what we were already paying. But it's still a ridiculous amount of money for the service.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:08 AM on April 10, 2007


Kinda chuffed to see Australia isn't the only place with fucked up mobile phone rates.

I always imagined that as people adopted mobile phones, and adopted internet on them, that prices would come down. That's the way it's supposed to work, isn't it? Unfortunately, telcos seem to continue to consider these services "premium" - they're after corporate customers who can afford $100+ a month to get email on their phone, they're not interested in making internet-on-mobile an everyday service.

Not that you would gather this from the ads on TV. And not that this is restricted to mobile internet in Australia. My dear old dad has been conned by Telstra into paying $30 a month for a "broadband" plan that includes 200MB of free downloads before they start charging 17c a MB, at a whopping 256kb/s. And all the ads promised "real time streaming video!".

Then there's the wireless providers (again, hello Telstra) charging $10/hour - oh but access is available in every McDonald's store, isn't that fantastic?

This "connected lifestyle" business isn't all it's cracked up to be. Solidarity, Canada.
posted by Jimbob at 7:15 AM on April 10, 2007


Perhaps a dumb question, but aren't wifi capable phones going to make all this obsolete? For example the Nokia N95 has wifi connectivity and a browser. Why do I need a data plan then?
posted by Keith Talent at 8:01 AM on April 10, 2007


Keith Talent: Perhaps a dumb question, but aren't wifi capable phones going to make all this obsolete? For example the Nokia N95 has wifi connectivity and a browser. Why do I need a data plan then?

Wifi is a bit like having a cordless phone. You need to be close to a base station. You can't use it on the bus, for example.

Mobile data access is more like a cell phone: you can use it wherever you are.
posted by russilwvong at 9:15 AM on April 10, 2007


The problem here is that they have a captive audience.

For sure.

It would be great to have more competition, but this IS exacty why you can't dismiss infrastructure as a red herring. The materiel costs of entering the Canadian market are much more prohibitive than the US (which is a market with 96% of the landmass of Canada and 10 times the potential market). Regulation and monopolization has played a part for sure and I'm sure there is some money grubbing going on, but the fact of the matter is that Verizon's US rates are determined by what the US market can bear. The Canadian market is obviously a different animal.
posted by isopraxis at 9:36 AM on April 10, 2007


Infrastructure costs lots to build and maintain, plus the rest of those uppity third-world countries don't have the second largest geographic landmass to cover.

You have got to be fucking kidding me. Maybe there is decent infrastructure in flat ol' Alberta, but there sure as hell isn't decent coverage here in BC.

A few years ago, I signed a contract with Fido, only to find out that their network had practically no coverage on large parts of UBC's campus, even outside. Since I lived on campus at the time, this bothered me, so I wanted to cancel my contract, since their coverage maps clearly showed that their network worked everywhere on campus. Got nowhere. Some asshole working for them told me the antenna on my phone was poor, and suggested I buy a different phone. I asked if I could get it free, since I received a free phone from them in exchange for signing a 3 year contract. No, I had to buy it. So I did, and it didn't fix the problem. So I spent the next three years with two phones that didn't work where I lived. I had to walk 10 minutes if I wanted to make or receive a call. I used Skype at home.

Seriously, if the miserly fucks who run these networks can't even provide coverage over a campus with 40,000 students, they don't get to justify usurious data fees by talking about infrastructure costs. The prepaid cell plan I had in China was about 6 or 7 times cheaper per month than what I get now, with a 3 year contract. If you take into account how much more I used my phone there (because it was cheaper), it works out to about 10 times cheaper. And I paid more than most people, because I was using prepaid cards, instead of a plan.

Broadband was cheaper and more reliable too. I would even put up with the firewall over the $80/mo I pay now for ADSL. Thanks Telus, you magnificent thieving cocks. Now can you please stop calling to bug me about long distance plans that cost 4.95 per month, plus a 4.95 per month administration fee? I'm not fucking interested, KTHXBYE.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:39 AM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yikes, this is scary. Do the polititians know about it yet? I'm sick and tired of having to listen to my kids cry themselves to sleep because they're worried about Canada's impending wireless bandwidth shortage! "Dad, why won't the CRTC listen to us? How are we going to get access to content?" "Dad?"
posted by sneebler at 11:40 AM on April 10, 2007


Isopraxis, perhaps you should compare the mobile coverage of the US as a percentage of its landmass to that of Canada. No one here is demanding wireless streaming video in Moose Factory or Spuzzum. Lots of Canada is basically empty, and it certainly is unreasonable to expect coverage there. Besides, if this is about the expense of infrastructure in a country with low population density, why is there a twentyfold difference in price between Australia and Canada?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:16 PM on April 10, 2007


perhaps you should compare the mobile coverage of the US as a percentage of its landmass to that of Canada.

Maybe I would if I were the guy paying through the nose for the high cost of Canadian crackberry addiction.

What I'm saying is that there are much greater forces which will always overrule a mob of angry fist-shakers who think a web petition is going to solve what is essentially a market problem. I'm not an advocate of Rogers, Bell, Telus or any of the other jagoff telco's. Am I a luddite to think that ubiquitous, cheap and reliable wireless data access across such a huge country is a tad pie-in-the-sky? Maybe so.

Now if you'll kindly excuse me, I've got to go picket some cows because I'm disgusted at the price of beef.
posted by isopraxis at 2:16 PM on April 10, 2007


The material costs of entering the Canadian market are much more prohibitive than the US (which is a market with 96% of the landmass of Canada and 10 times the potential market).

THIS is a red herring. Fido entered the market providing coverage of Vancouver and Toronto and virtually nothing else, and offered lower prices compared to companies with larger coverage; and you could always get coverage in those areas if you were out of town, just with roaming fees + analog adapter. (Of course now that they've been bought up by Rogers whatever illusion of choice we had is long gone.) The vast majority of cellphone users just want urban coverage, and providing that in Canada is no more costly than providing it in the USA.
posted by mek at 3:51 PM on April 10, 2007


Am I a luddite to think that ubiquitous, cheap and reliable wireless data access across such a huge country is a tad pie-in-the-sky?

You hear that whooshing sound? Kinda sounds like a plane taking off. I swear to God it was clear as day. You didn't hear it? I'm surprised, I mean, it was so loud.

Well, anyway, that was the JetClue Express, direct to Point Ville, soaring over your head.

Canadians don't expect to have perfect service in the Arctic Neverlands. They do expect a modicum of service in their population centers, which isn't too much to ask considering that 90% of the people are concentrated in them. Rolling out cell service for the five metropolitan areas in the entire country shouldn't be too difficult, you know.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:56 PM on April 10, 2007


The infrastructure is almost all entirely in place at this point in time. The cell towers are up all over the place, the switches are installed and connected, there's fiber running out to every little podunk town. It's all there.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:16 PM on April 10, 2007


I'm glad someone is addressing this as it has been the one thing that has stopped me from adopting a treo/blackberry/iphone to date. I'm secretly hoping the wifi on the iPhone is good enough to make the rest not matter. Time to write a letter to the ol' MP, oh wait I don't have one. sigh.
posted by furtive at 7:33 PM on April 10, 2007


Something like a sixth of Canada's population lives in the GTA, and another tenth in the GVRD (Vancouver) and Victoria areas... how about starting the infrastructure there, and seeing if it works? You'd make a few million people pretty happy.
posted by tehloki at 8:17 PM on April 10, 2007


I expect one can easily achieve 90% coverage with 10% of the landmass. There's fat glass between all the major and minor centres. Glass to Cherryville ferchrissake! Population 1000, most on farms and homesteads!

The capabilities are there. What we lack is the ability to require the companies to start delivering. There once was a time we had the ability to set QoS, coverage, CRM, and even tariffs, in exchange for which our friendly monopoly got access to a lot of free public land, a captive customer base, and rock-solid profitability year in and year out while developing a world-class telecom system. Everyone benefitted extremely well.

I have never seen a decrease in the cost of my telephone line. Local rates went up to counter decreasing long-distance rates. Various service charges started appearing. Then ADSL costs. And were we typical sheep, there'd easily be another half as much again in call waiting, forwarding, displaying beeping mailboxing buttonpushingstupidity costs.

Nope, ain't seen a penny in savings. Seen a rapid decline in service, though. A lot of unemployment in the industry. Still see there's shit available for leading cellular services. Outrageously good profits down at the ol' telco, though.

Yup, that worked out danged fine for the public, that did.

Why don't we have European- or Japanese-class cellular service? Because we gave it up control. Gave away the farm.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:55 PM on April 10, 2007


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