iPhone VS Canada

When I was down in Seattle recently, my American friends were shocked to discover that the iPhone isn’t available in Canada yet. EVERYONE has an iPhone there. I walked past a group of city sewage workers standing around a man-hole: every single one of them toying with their own private iPhone.

On the 29th of April, 2008, Roger’s Canada announced that the iPhone will be available in Canada “soon”. I was more annoyed by this bit of news than happy about it. Why can’t they tell us when? Why does it have to be a Roger’s exclusive? Is anyone aware of the long history of abuse that Roger’s has dealt out to Canadians? Doesn’t everyone know that Roger’s is operating a monopoly?

Recently I went into an Apple store and asked about when the iPhone will be available in Canada. The customer service person I spoke to informed me that (a) he wasn’t supposed to tell me this, but (b) Apple has not been willing to release the iPhone in Canada yet because of the ridiculous data rates up here. I was a customer of Roger’s a number of years ago, and I remember leaving their service after getting an absurd bill from them because I uploaded two pictures to my flickr account (Here is one of my $25 uploads). Knowing all of this, I pushed on and asked what the problem was.

He explained that Rogers (http://www.rogers.ca) has a monopoly on the wireless data transfer rates up here in the Great White North. He said that Apple has been unwilling to release the iPhone here because they are worried about backlash from iPhone users about transfer rates. To quote the customer service guy:

“Apple would be getting a lot of calls from iPhone owners wondering why their first bill from the phone company was higher than the cost of the phone itself.”

But just how bad are the data transfer rates? Well, as it turns out, there are third world countries with cheaper data transfer rates than Canada. Check out this graph from another annoyed consumer, Thomas Purves:

To quote Thomas:

As I’ve noted in the chart, 500MB is about 100 minutes of usage at a Canadian Carrier’s maximum (advertised) download speed of 700kB/s (your mileage will vary, International carriers are typically twice or four times faster). 500MB is not a lot of data in the grand scheme of things, a few GB could make a better example but in that case the red bars would be completely off the charts.

All of you Americans out there should note that while your carriers offer you an unlimited amount of transfer for a set price, there are currently no such options in Canada. Which means that there is absolutely no limit to what our carriers will charge us, and the more data we transfer, the higher the rates get. That graph could keep getting larger and larger until the other carriers no longer even appear on the map while Rogers rolls around in their millions of dollars earned doing things like first charging people to purchase ringtones and then charge them again to download the ringtones they’ve already paid for.

Apparently this is now just the land of the True, North, and Strong. There’s nothing free about it.