Canada's outrageous wireless data prices

Prices for wireless data (the charge for using your phone to browse the internet or download data from your office or home computer) in Canada are higher than most third-world countries. Check the graph in this article:

And if you can handle a little obscenity from angry cellular users, read this article on Digg.com

If you used your cellular phone to transfer 500 MB of data in a month (that's about TWO graphics-rich web pages per day), your charge in the US would be between $60 and $70.  In Canada, it would be $1600 with Rogers or Fido !!!!

Don't waste your money buying one of those new data-capable smartphones if you live in Canada.  Instead, buy a wireless LAN card for your laptop and look for free WiFi locations in your city. Or even sign up with Fatport at rates as low as $35/month or $70 for 3 months, at fatport.com  

Another provider is Boingo, at boingo.com  They charge $22 per month, or $8 per day, for unlimited usage at any of their hotspots. Those prices are for laptop access. If you have a cellphone or PDA, you get charged only $8/month!

Telus has hotspots available at $40 for one month or $25/month for a national unlimited subscription.

Here is a list of locations offering free WiFi across Canada: wififreespot.com

Here's a list of 1801 free and commercial WiFi locations across Canada: jiwire.com

And here's a different list: www.wi-fihotspotlist.com


Stewart Midwinter said...

The pending arrival of the iPhone in Canada is causing many industry reporters to note the exhorbitant rates charged for wireless data in Canada. Simply put, you will pay 5 times as much as in the US, for an inferior data plan. Here's an article by the National Post on the subject.

Stewart Midwinter said...

And there's also an article by electronista.com pointing out that Rogers' crippling rates will turn the iPhone into a failure in Canada. Apple would do well to rethink its plan to sell the device in Canada.

Stewart Midwinter said...

The latest comparison between US and Canadian wireless data rates show that in Canada we pay 378 times more! If you liked being sodomized in prison, you'll love buying wireless data from Rogers.

Verizon charges $60/month for wireless broadband, which appears to be limited to 5GB per month.

Rogers, on the other hand, charges $210/month for a meagre 500 MB (that's about 20 web pages per day). If you wanted to use 5 GB per month, Rogers would charge you $22,710!

Stewart Midwinter said...

BTW, that figure for Rogers is based on $210 for 500 MB plus $5/MB for the extra 4500 MB required to reach equality with the Verizon limit of 5 GB. If you limited yourself to 1 GB per month on both Rogers and Verizon, then Verizon would still cost $60 and Rogers would cost $2710.

Stewart Midwinter said...

Best of the worst: Bell Canada?

Bell Canada's latest listing of wireless data plans lists a plan called Blackberry 100 that costs $108.95/month, and includes 1 GB of data transfer. That's 5 times less data than you can get with Verizon in the US, for nearly twice the money, so it's about 10 times more expensive than the US offering on a per-MB basis, but that's still a little less rapacious than Rogers' offering.

They also offer a plan called Windows / Palm 100, with identical data limits. Neither of the above plans include any voice minutes, but it appears you might be able to make calls for $0.30/minute. At least, it's allowed in their $23/month "Windows / Palm 15" plan.

Stewart Midwinter said...

Strangely enough, Telus Mobility has an Email & Web 100 Plan that is nearly exactly the same price as Bell's ($107/mo.) and has the exact same features. Is it possible that they have agreed to keep their prices identical?

In contrast, Rip-off Rogers' $100 Blackberry Plan includes five times less data than Telus or Bell (200 MB versus 1 GB) and for any overage, they charge you nearly double ($5/MB versus $3 for Telus or Bell). Rogers truly is the worst, most rapacious wireless data provider in Canada. You'd have to be a fool to sign up with them.

Stewart Midwinter said...

If you can't stomach the thought of paying $100+ per month just to be able to send the odd email message from your phone or Blackberry, you can get some low-end data plans in Canada, but they offer little data (surprise).

Bell offers a Windows / Palm 15 plan that pretends to offer 1.5 MB for $15. By the time you add on their so-called System Access Fee (a way to charge you extra money while pretending it's somehow official), you're really paying $24 for 1.5 MB, i.e. about $16/MB.

Meanwhile over at Virgin Mobile, you can get an account for as little as $10/mo., which gives you 100 minutes of talking. On top of this you can buy the Big Kahuna data plan, which adds 5 MB of data for $10 (i.e. $2/MB) or the Pro Surfer plan, which adds 2 MB for $5 (i.e. $2.50/MB). Either way, Virgin's prices are 5-8 times cheaper than Bell's. What's the catch? You have to use the browser provided on their phones - you can't use your phone as a tethered modem for your PDA or laptop.

Stewart Midwinter said...

Well here's a huge step in the right direction, from Virgin Mobile:

Virgin Mobile Canada has just announced two new phones, one of which is the new Samsung m510 for $199 (no-contract price). Sure, the phone has a camera, has bluetooth, a lite web browser and plays music in addition to making phone calls. But the biggest feature of this phone is that it allows you to purchase the Tidal Wave data plan. For just $10/month you get:

* Access to Virgin Mobile LIVE Streaming Video and Radio subscriptions
* Unlimited megabytes for surfing the mobile web
* Zero connection fees for full-track music downloads
* Zero daily fees for Email, Chat, Weather and way more

I checked with a tech support person and he assured me you can get GMail on this phone. Yay! So what's the catch? Well, you have to use this phone's browser to access to the internet. You can't use this phone as a tethered modem and connect a PDA or laptop to it via bluetooth to access the internet.

Virgin doesn't spend a lot of money on advertising, but I expect once word gets out about this plan, pressure will increase on the big three, especially Rogers, to reduce their prices.

Stewart Midwinter said...

Pay more at Bell for a Virgin Mobile phone

I just noticed that Bell is also selling the Samsung m510 phone that Virgin just introduced. The only difference: the price. Virgin's no-contract price (they don't do contracts at all) is $199. Bell's is $279, i.e. 40% more.

But there's more. Whereas Virgin's unlimited mobile browser plan costs $10/mo., Bell's similar plan costs $53.95/mo, i.e. 550% more. Better take along some lube to the Bell store so you'll have it handy when they ask you to bend over to sign up for that service.