Rogers Announces Expensive 3G iPhone Rate Plans – No Unlimited Access

Rogers iPhone

Reference: Rogers iPhone Facts |
[August 15, 2008 Update: Many of the questions and concerns discussed below are addressed in my newer post: Rogers Canadian iPhone Plans – The Fine Print]

[October 6, 2008 Update: As of October 3, 2008 Rogers has changed their iPhone plans again. Details are available here.]

Rogers has announced its (and its subsidiary Fido’s) long awaited Canadian 3G iPhone (details here) data plan pricing. The iPhone will become available in Canada, and around the world, on July 11.

Unlike AT&T and other international carriers, Rogers is not offering an unlimited data plan option. Rather it is bundling rather meagre data tiers to tiered voice plans at considerably higher prices than charged in Europe and the United States (see here). Here’s the details:

  • Minimum 3 Year Contract (AT&T offers U.S. customers the option: (i) of a 2 year contract; or (ii) to purchase of iPhone outright with no contract- see below)
  • $199 for 8GB 3G iPhone; $299 for 16GB (same as U.S. – announced by Steve Jobs but not yet officially confirmed by Rogers)
  • No Unlimited Data Plan. Rogers offers the following mixed monthly voice/data plans:
    • $60400 MB Data 75 outgoing SMS 150 minutes*;
    • $75750 MB Data 100 outgoing SMS 300 minutes;
    • $1001 GB Data 200 outgoing SMS 600 minutes;
    • $1152 GB Data 300 outgoing SMS 800 minutes;

*Minutes are weekday minutes. Rates do note include $15 or $20 a month for an options such as Caller ID, more text messages and call forwarding.

[July 9, 2008 Update: Rogers announced a limited time $30, 6GB iPhone data plan that can be added on to any Rogers voice plan. This offer expires on August 31, 2008]

By way of comparison the cheapest US AT&T data plan costs $30 for unlimited data and $39.99 for voice which includes 450 minutes, no SMS messages, and unlimited U.S. long distance (for a combined $69.99 total) (See U.S. Plan details)
[See also U.K./U.S./Cdn Price Plan Comparisons]

  • $6.95 monthly system access charge is charged by Rogers/Fido on top of data plans. (AT&T does not charge a monthly access plan but does charge a one time $36 activation fee for newbies, $18 for upgrades for existing iPhone customers)
  • 3G iPhoneAll Rogers plans include unlimited:
  • ‘Subsidized Only’ There is no option to purchase the phone at full price to avoid the 3 year minimum contract and cancellation fees (a practice prohibited in some European countries and under review by the U.S. FCC). U.S. users will be able to purchase their iPhone’s without a contract for  $599/$699.

More Questions – Uncertainty

Many details are still unclear, including:

  • Roaming: No iPhone specific data plan roaming fees were announced. Under existing Blackberry/Windows mobile plans, Rogers charges A roaming fee of $0.01 per KB (outside your local area?) and $0.05 per KB applies for data usage while roaming the United States and other countries, respectively (source).
  • Metering: whether Rogers will provide a tool so you know how much data you have used so far in a month (they don’t with their current plans – you find out with your next mobile phone bill – ouch!). Update: A Rogers spokesperson said that users who are about to exceed their plans’ caps will be sent messages to alert them of pending overage charges for voice and data
  • SMS Data whether using SMS messages eat into your allotted data plan or not.
  • Upgrading: Will current Rogers users on fixed contracts be able to upgrade to the iPhone without breaking their current contracts? How much will that cost? July 2 Update: Yes. According to a Rogers spokesperson: "Customers will also be free to change their plans for either more or less data, without incurring a penalty or resetting their three-year contract" 
  • Uploading/Downloading: whether data plans are inclusive of up and downloaded data.
  • Bundled Pricing: to what extent these prices could be reduced in Rogers bundles with Internet/cable etc. (if at all)
  • Cancellation Fee: what the early cancellation fee will be
  • WiFi Hot Spots: Rogers/Fido WiFi customers currently have access to Telus/Bell and other competitive carrier’s hotspots as part of their WiFi plans. The Rogers announcement does not mention Telus/Bell etc. hotspots. Presumably users will pay extra to use them.
  • Domestic Transferability: Can a Canadian sell her iPhone and plan to another willing to adopt the rest of the contract without paying a penalty/cancellation fee.
  • International Transferability: Can a 3G iPhone purchased by a Canadian be used/activated in the U.S. if the user pays the cancellation fee and moves (and vice versa).


Rogers highest data plan (consisting of a paltry 2GB of data) will effectively costs about $65 + the $6.95 ‘access charge’ = $72, per month more than they are now paying – assuming an average $50 monthly mobile phone bill. This is more than double the $30 monthly data plan fee a comparable U.S. 3G iPhone user will pay for the vastly superior unlimited data usage plan.  See U.S. details here for comparison.

Linking the data tiers to voice tiers means that users with low voice usage need to subscribe to higher cost voice plans that they don’t need or want to get access to the higher data plan that they do want. Conversely those with limited data needs and high voice requirements must pay for higher data plans that they won’t use to get the minutes they want.

The mixed voice/data plans make it difficult for consumers to make 1-to-1 comparisons with the U.S. product.

How many Canadians know how much data they will use next month, let alone 2 years from now?


I may be sitting this one out for now.  I was hesitant to purchase the first 3G iPhone given the 16 Gig hard drive limit. I need at least 24 Gigs and ideally 32 Gigs to house my current and future music/video and iPhone apps collection. Still, I was willing to pay up to $100 for a 300 minute voice plan with unlimited data (or at least 5G per month) and possibly a 2 year contract – SMS is irrelevant to me.  But a three year contract with such a limited data plan?  I don’t think so. Not immediately anyway.

[August 15, 2008 Update: I purchased an iPhone. Details here.]

Sources: Fortune | Globe & Mail | | Reuters | |Calgary Herald | | CBC | Michael Geist |Vancouver Sun | *CTV | Edmonton Sun |


  1. // Reply

    I have to wonder if the 6 GB plan will actually expire after Aug 31. I think we’ll know more after the first days and weeks of sales. If they are sluggish, that would force changes. If not, Ted will ride the wave as long as he can.

    The 6GB option resolves two of my many issues with Rogers plans:

    1. Obviously, it gives more (and a decent) amount of data in the 6GB plan. I won’t know if that is enough or more than enough for me until I’ve used it for months.

    2. It seems, though I’m not sure, if the 6GB bundle is decoupled from the voice plans. I only use/need a 300 weekday minute plan. Heck, I could probably get by on a 100 weekday minute plan. If I can get the low voice plan and the 6GB plan for $30 more I’m a LOT more interested.

    But, my two big interlocking outstanding issues are:

    1. the ridiculous 3 year contract; and
    2. I still don’t know how much the cancellation fee is

    If the cancellation fee would decrease over the life of the contract or if I could sell/give my contract to a friend or family and let them continue it, I’d be much less concerned.


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