Monthly fee that tops out at $115 puts device `in the realm of reality'
It's official: Owning an iPhone isn't going to be cheap in Canada.
Rogers Communications Inc. yesterday unveiled the monthly plans that will accompany Apple Inc.'s second-generation iPhone when it goes on sale July 11 for $199 or $299 with a three-year contract.
The cheapest monthly plan from Rogers is $60 for 400 megabytes of data, 150 weekday minutes and unlimited evenings and weekends. There are also $75, $100 and $115 monthly plans that offer more talk time and 750 megabytes, 1 gigabyte and 2 gigabytes of data respectively. All include unlimited access to Rogers and Fido Wi-Fi hot spots.
Users who are about to exceed their plans' caps will be sent messages to alert them of pending overage charges for voice and data, a Rogers spokesperson said.
Observers gave the effort mixed reviews.
"These plans are still quite Canadian, but they put the iPhone in the realm of reality for prospective smartphone users," said Kevin Restivo, an analyst at market research firm IDC Canada. "The main difference between the Rogers and Fido plans and those in other countries is that there is a ceiling."
Canada's three national wireless operators, Rogers, Bell Mobility Inc. and Telus Corp., have been criticized for charging high wireless rates, particularly for data applications such as mobile Web browsing, email and downloads.
In the United States, consumers can buy the second-generation iPhone from AT&T Inc. with a $30 (U.S.) unlimited data plan with any voice package, the cheapest being a $39.99 option that offers 450 minutes of talk time and free U.S. long distance. There is a $36 activation fee.
Amit Kaminer, an analyst at consulting firm The Seaboard Group, said Rogers has nevertheless come a "long way" in its data pricing over the past year and that it will be interesting to watch how rivals Bell and Telus respond.
But while a $60 (Canadian) per month entry-level plan promises to put an iPhone in a lot of Canadian pockets, subscribers may still suffer sticker shock when they see their first monthly bill.
That's because many will likely opt to pay another $15 or $20 a month for an optional package that includes Caller ID, more text messages and call forwarding, among other services. That brings the cheapest iPhone to just over $90 a month once a $6.95 "system access fee" and taxes are included.
Moreover, Restivo said Rogers' cheapest iPhone plan would be suitable only for a subscriber who treats mobile Web browsing as a novelty as opposed to a core function.
"If you're a heavy data user, you're probably going to move up to the $100-per-month package."