updated 09:25 am EST, Fri November 16, 2007
Bell and Telus vs iPhone
Rivals to Canadian provider Rogers Wireless are dramatically lowering the prices for data access as a defensive measure against the iPhone even before the device is announced for the country, according to a new report by the analyst firm Seaboard Group. A comparison of the access rates required needed to download 1GB of data per month shows the prices dropping dramatically since June: where customers could expect to pay more than $2,250 for the Internet bandwidth at the time, a price drop by Telus in mid-summer dropped the price to $375. By November, both Telus and its fellow CDMA carrier Bell were charging about $100.
Both of these drops are meant to lure customers to the respective services months ahead of an expected iPhone launch, Seaboard says. In past iPhone launches, Apple is known to have insisted on lower-priced flat rate data, going so far as to change O2's policy in the UK and institute the British carrier's first true uncapped data plans in conjunction with the iPhone. Worries that this will translate to Rogers may be the primary cause of the drop, the analysts suggest.
Bell may have provided the strongest evidence of this reactionary approach this week, when it introduced a $7 unlimited e-mail and web plan made just for the HTC Touch smartphone. The Windows Mobile handset is frequently touted as one of the more conspicuous challengers to the iPhone.
Rogers itself has so far been reluctant to drop data rates and has historically been more expensive to use for data than its main opponents. Although the company has dropped its rates in the fall as a likely response to pressure, 1GB of data continues to cost about $1,500 through the carrier. In the summer, Internet policy expert Michael Geist explained the need for a change to Rogers' plans for the iPhone by noting that the closest match to even the basic $60 iPhone plan from American provider AT&T, which includes calling, would cost almost $300 per month with less features.
Leaks from a Molson contest and an alleged Rogers flyer have both pointed to Rogers carrying the iPhone sometime in January but have not revealed any pricing strategies.