back to article Rogers wraps 'unlimited' mobile browsing in small print

In announcing its unlimited mobile data plan, mega Canadian telco Rogers Communications has redefined the word unlimited. As revealed by the folks at the metro-blog The Torontoist, Rogers' new data plan is completely unlimited except where it's limited. First off, the seven-Canadian-bucks-a-month plan applies only to "on- …

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  1. Mectron
    Flame

    Canada

    as the most expensive Data Cel Phone rate on the planet. Need to say more? canada is quick to put regulation on everything, but do nothing to stop Canadian cell phone companies from STEALING money out of their constumers....

    Price fixing, Illegal cartal etc.. you choose...

  2. rlow
    Paris Hilton

    spokeswoman?

    spokeswoman == SpokesRoger ?

    Paris. Just because.

  3. PushF12
    Unhappy

    Rogers cramps Canadian telecom

    Rogers bought Fido and was responsible for killing the last genuine unlimited GPRS data plan available in Canada. SIM cards with grandfathered Fido data contracts are selling on eBay for $1,000+ CAD.

    Rogers is at least as evil as BigPond or Tiscali, and it seems that they are getting a similar ill repute internationally.

    Rogers is a case study in the ineffectiveness of the CRTC, which is our telecom regulator. My various experiences with Rogers are such that my fists, my teeth, and my arse all clench simultaneously when I think about them.

  4. Adam Williamson
    Paris Hilton

    How?

    Was discussing this with the significant other this morning. The "tethering" clause - not valid when using the phone as a modem - one is common on "unlimited" data offers up here (Telus and Bell have similar wording). The one about only being allowed on certain devices is new, however.

    The burning question is - how the heck do they know?

    Neither of us is aware of anything that would allow the phone company to reliably know whether the phone is being used as a modem, or exactly what phone you currently have your SIM card in.

    Is there actually any way for them to know this? Or are they just going to assume that any usage beyond a given amount "must" be because you were using it as a modem, and charge you, as seems to be Telus' policy?

    I've no idea what they can do about the device clause (besides only offering the price to people who buy one of those devices, obviously - but that does nothing about them just switching devices later). Send out plain clothes detectives?

    Paris icon because I'm afraid the question's as dumb as she is.

  5. Morely Dotes
    Paris Hilton

    The Professional Assessment

    As an IT professional supporting offices in BC, Quebec, most of the US States, Chile, Europe, and Australia, I would rate the Canadian services the least honest in their dealings with customers, and that's quite something. Even Comcast in the USA is less prone to deceptive advertising.

    Paris, because, unlike telecoms salesmen, she doesn't really know if she's lying to you or not.

  6. Chris
    Stop

    That could get expensive....

    5 Canadian cents for 1 kilobyte?

    Thats over $50 for 1 megabyte. Woah.. Even on mobile devices it's quite easy to go through 20 megabytes in a short session - at $1000 dollars a pop that's less than good value.

    Is it really that expensive, or is that a typo?

  7. Chad H.
    Thumb Down

    So.....

    "[The plan] is available on select phones only (PDAs such as Blackberry or Windows Mobile devices, PC cards and non-Rogers certified devices are not eligible)", reads the fine print. "Data usage incurred on ineligible devices, incurred while tethering (using device as wireless modem for laptop) or incurred using non-Rogers (3rd party) applications downloaded to your device will be subject to pay-per-use charges of 5 cents/KB."

    ---

    So the only devices left that you get free data on.... aren't worth using the internet on.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    What the hell?...

    Five cents per *KILOBYTE*? What is this, 1997? Christ, I've had truly unlimited data on my Cingular/AT&T blackberry for at least two years and it was available for a few years before that, IIRC. How the hell does Rogers manage to charge (apparently quite literally) a thousand times as much as anybody else? Total monopoly?

  9. Alastair

    Not even slightly surprised

    I moved out to Canada from the UK a year ago, and the state of the cellphone industry over here completely amazes me- it's so backwards.

    Rogers charge obscene rates for data transfer - 5c a KB on Pay as You Go (so about $6 a photo), and an amazing contract add-on costing $7 a month for 1MB of data, then 2c a KB afterwards. Basically, it's suitable only for millionaires and morons.

    It doesn't end there, though. Call Display? $9 a month. Voicemail? A mere $7 a month for you, sir. Then they have the cheek to advertise "amazing value" packages- combing the above two will still cost you $11 a month. This is all on top of your normal tariff, of course (cheapest? $25 a month for, wait for it, 250 minutes of calls!)

    Basically they're a bunch of money grabbing bastards who don't even know the meaning of the word "competitive". But when, why would they when the Canadian government let them buy their *only competitor* (in GSM, that is), Fido? I have a GSM phone- I can go to no other operator other than their new subsidiary. So I've turned off all the data functionality on my (3G capable) phone, have a pay as you go account... and use Skype a lot.

    I'd happily pay more money a month to use mobile internet, send MMSes (hell, even SMSes) and such, but not at their prices. So they lose money. Clever buggers.

  10. Alastair

    RE: How?

    Your phone sends its IMEI number to the operator (I think it's the IMEI, anyway). Amongst other things, I believe it indicates what model your phone is. At the very least it could indicate that it wasn't the phone Rogers gave you.

    And Chris- yes, it really is that expensive. For further reading, check this page out:

    http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/2118/159/

    More expensive than Rwanda. Mental.

  11. Chris

    Pure insanity

    The title of this page should have been "Downloading a DVD for $500,000 dollars"

    Infinite monkeys would have been cheaper (and faster)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: What the hell?

    The reason they can get away with it is because the three suppliers (Bell, Telus, Rogers) all have their fingers stroking each others' prostates. The only way they can cover such a large area with such a small population is by piggybacking off of each others towers in different parts of the country (at least, this used to be the case, I'm not sure if it still is; quite frankly I get full of rage whenever I even think of the situation, so I haven't kept up on it). Worse, they're also the only major providers of internet, cable TV, and landlines in most areas. None offer anything particularly compelling compared to one another, since coopetition and buyouts have stagnated innovation to the point of standstill.

    Basically, if there was ever a definition of price fixing, the Canadian cell phone market is it. There are days I'd like to throw my phone into the North Saskatchewan.

  13. Adam Williamson
    Thumb Up

    Alastair

    Ah, that's a point. Doesn't answer the modem point, though.

    BTW, on the prices - call them up, threaten to cancel - make sure you get transferred to the cancellation people, as they're the ones with all the power - and tell them the other company will give you a better deal. If you complain enough they'll give you a fairly hefty discount and improve your plan (of course, the fact that they can afford to do this just shows how much money they're creaming off on the regular prices). After doing this, I pay Fido $38.45 before tax for 200 minutes daytime, unlimited evenings / weekends, unlimited calls to Fido or Rogers, unlimited incoming, 1000 text messages, caller ID and voicemail. Not bad really.

    Data prices are, as outlined above, ridiculous, though. Telus' are somewhat better.

    Surprised no-one's mentioned 3G, yet. Fido is only just getting limited 3G out here in Vancouver, and many places don't have it yet. Telus has had it for a while, though (they're on Rev A EVDO now).

    Coward, I think they still piggyback off each other's towers in some areas. And you can still only get service at all on Telus' analog network in quite a substantial area of the country (are there any other 'developed' countries where you can still buy dual-mode analog / digital phones? heh.)

  14. Alastair

    Adam

    The modem point I'm not so sure on. It might be as simple as them looking for traffic a phone simply isn't capable of doing, like downloading torrents.

    As for getting a better deal- I'd love to, but I have nothing to threaten to cancel. That's the problem with pay as you go. I can't really sign up for a contract either, as I'm on a time-limited work permit over here, and 3 year contract terms... well, let's just not go there.

    The whole industry just seems utterly corrupt to me. Last time I looked, it was more affordable for me to roam using my old UK SIM card to get on the net.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    @How

    That's a very good question, and was also puzzling me. The only idea that came to mind was that their approved browsers may connect to a proxy, and all traffic to/from that proxy is free. Would it be possible to point an unapproved application at that proxy, if you knew its address? Not if they have a reasonable connection protocol, but that would imply something like VPN modules built into their applications; not that hard, but more effort than I would expect a telco division that isn't a profit centre (e.g. mobile phone software department) to go through. If the proxy serves HTTP traffic only, then a hole like that would only allow your non-approved application to browse the web from an approved phone, so you may as well just use the approved browser. If you manage to install an un-approved application that can browse, then implement an IP-over-HTTP tunnel, you may be able to build an IP connection via your home server. Probably not all that fast, of course, and they will terminate your contract with extreme prejudice if they happen to notice such a blatant end-run on their terms and conditions... On the other hand, building an IP-over-HTTP tunnel with implementations on PC and cell phones, and connecting the phone component to an e-mail reader may be a fun weekend distraction for some enterprising university Computer Science Club, if maybe less interesting than the IP-over-Carrier Pigeon design and validation.

  16. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
    Linux

    XO anyone?

    Sounds like Canada is going to get a wake up call when the local yokels get wind of what the one laptop per child can do. It seems like it was designed to break monopolies like the Canadian model.

    I gather the designer of the screen for it has left the project to set up her own company producing lap tops. So it won't be long before a saviour comes for their souls.

    Might give them a chance to learn English. Start practising guys.

  17. TeeCee Gold badge
    Pirate

    How!

    Or, more simply, your approved Rogers device has in its provider customisations a little feature that goes "hello, I am an approved Rogers device" to the network. Anything that does not do so is automatically charged as the bandwidth-sucking, piratical, would-be freeloader that it therefore must be.

  18. Dave Evans
    Happy

    Work around the ripoff

    I have just checked and T-mobile only charge £7.50/MB for roaming in Canada (GPRS or 3G), even for Pay-As-You-Go, so why not just buy a PAYG card off the net and do on line top ups? In fact, I could even set up a website flogging them to poor, ripped off Canucks, mmmmmm..............

  19. Dave Thompson

    Modems

    All mobile phone browsers stick the phone number and IMEI number in the HTTP request header. So, I would imagine that's how they know if you're surfing from a phone or a modem...

  20. JeffyPooh Silver badge

    Alternative is Telus

    As already pointed out, Rogers charges $0.05 per kilobyte which is actually $50 per megabyte.

    Telus offers a '$75/month' (actually about $83 + tax = $93) Unlimited plan that actually appears to be unlimited. It is so unlimited that my house-in-the-forest uses this EV-DO mobile technology to provide high speed Internet. I typically consume 13 to 19 GigeByte per month (or about $800,000 by Roger's math - LOL). There's no compression of graphics. And there's no complaints about using a laptop (not to mention two desktops, a Wii, two DS's, three PSP's, an Internet Radio appliance, and several more).

    Please Google 'EV-DO in NS' and 'WiFi Limo' to learn more.

    Disclaimer - I'm nothing but a satisfied customer.

  21. Charles
    Stop

    what home server

    "implement an IP-over-HTTP tunnel, you may be able to build an IP connection via your home server."

    Not if your home internet is Rogers, users are not allowed to run servers in Mr. Rogers Network Neighbourhood.

  22. Adam Williamson

    JeffyPooh

    Yeah, that's definitely the best deal around for high usage at the moment. It's listed at $100 on their website, though, not $75 - http://www.telusmobility.ca/bc/business_solutions/connect_megabyte_rate_plan.shtml . Only available till March 31 - don't know if that means it stops being unlimited after that, or it's just not available to new buyers after that.

    They do reserve the right to cancel service for 'abuse' - I'm sure if it got too expensive for them they'd just classify multi-GB use as 'abuse' and cut you off.

    Still a much better option than Fido or Rogers, though.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rogers = Ripoff

    Rogers is notorious for the asterisks and fine print, regardless of product. They bought out Sprint for local phone - my expenses literally doubled (thankfully no longer with them for ANY service). The CRTC is an ineffective waste of time and resources. The regulators in Canada have sold the population down the river, but are quite willing grab tax money, so the general population is in a lose-lose scenario.

    Advice to the Canadian consumer in general: find another provider.

  24. Darryl

    A lesson for Americans and Brits

    Just remember us poor saps up here in the Great Taxed North next time you feel like bitching about your cell service.

    There are a couple of better PAYG plans out there supplied by 7-11 and such, but I'm not sure of their data rates, and they're all just running off Rogers' towers anyways.

  25. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Happy

    More details on EV-DO in NS

    @Adam Williamson: The "Connect $75" plan is just left of the "$100" version (at least on my screen). As I mentioned before, $75 := $93 with all the fees and taxes.

    As far as 'tethering' goes, my EV-DO gadget is the Sierra Wireless 595U and its only purpose in life is to be tethered. They can't exactly complain...

    Furthermore, I've plugged the 595U into a CTR-350 "Travel" router and placed the whole kit on a shelf. The only wired connection is the AC adapter. The house is now a WiFi hot-spot. It just plain works. I'm using it now.

    It makes me laugh that this whole kit-and-kaboodle could easily be installed in a car and thus make the 'WiFi Limo'. The 595U even has a jack for an external antenna. Or, it is small enough to fit under a hat and could be powered by AA cells (using an external battery pack of some sort).

  26. Johnny Boy
    Paris Hilton

    Limited - unlimited

    Personnaly I'm sick and tired of wholesale lying.

    We're supposed to be a semi-socialist country where Caveat Emptor just doesn't cut it. I mean there isn't a large scale corporation who is not trying to capitalize on deceit. Downsizing products or ambiguously-fine-printing advertizing is now the new money maker.

    How can we get more for less. Let's face it, imroving a product is more costly than just fleecing your customers. Yet, I think in the long run being a bettre company has it's advantages.

    I hate to admit it but I think some countries such as Japan have figured this out and for their efforts risk ending up owning most of the modern world. I mean they have beat the #1 capitalist country at their own game.

    But I digress...

    Charge me what it is worth and I will pay for it no fuss. 25¢ a text message. You have to be kidding me. 0.05$ per kilobyte you are simply nuts.

    30$ a month 200GB is reasonble. I already get that from my DSL provider. I don't care if it's wired or not. You have technological hurdles that make it less feasable via wireless? Then don't tout it as Unlimited.

    Shame on you Rogers, shame. Be honest, you want use the appeal withou being the real deal.

    End Of Rant.

  27. Vince

    Bittorrent etc.

    "The modem point I'm not so sure on. It might be as simple as them looking for traffic a phone simply isn't capable of doing, like downloading torrents."

    It's possible on my phone. You need a better phone :-)

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