updated 12:40 pm EST, Sat January 26, 2008
Rogers Unlimited Data Leak
Canadian cell provider Rogers Wireless is set to institute a series of changes to its cellular data plans that should pave the way for devices such as the iPhone, according to increasingly corroborated reports. A tip indicates that the carrier will begin offering a reworking of the company's $20 monthly Communicate Package that allows both unlimited Internet access from a given phone as well as up to 2500 SMS text messages, 1000 MMS picture or video messages, and calling extras such as voicemail and caller ID. A separate $7 plan will offer just the Internet use and 50 minutes of video calling with Rogers' VISION service, while a $5 plan will offer just the data alone.
The Rogers service is believed to mirror similar offerings from AT&T in the US, though offering far more messages than most AT&T plans. Like the American plan, the unlimited transfers would only apply to 'feature' phones rather than dedicated smartphones; BlackBerries and Windows Mobile devices would be exempt from the service and have their own separate rates. Rogers will track each phone's International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) to automatically determine whether a device is allowed to use an unlimited plan, though whether this will apply to unlocked handsets is unknown. Tethering those devices that qualify for the unlimited plan to a computer for modem use is expected to incur an extra cost.
The move is believed to partly be a direct reaction to Bell's $7 data plan, which offers unlimited Internet use for the HTC Touch, as well as to lowered data rates as a whole for competitors. However, the plan is also regarded by observers as a necessary prelude to the introduction of the iPhone to the country. Rogers is the only major provider in the country to operate a GSM phone network needed for the Apple device but has often maintained some of the highest fees for data use in North America, until recently charging as much as $295 per month for less features than AT&T's basic $60 iPhone plan. Rogers has claimed to be bringing the iPhone to Canada since shortly after its unveiling in January 2007, though negotiations are not believed to have begun until after the phone's US launch in late June.
Current reports would have the Rogers data rate change take effect on February 5th but are not believed to be timed with any future Apple or other handset introductions.