TORONTO Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO),
the exclusive service provider for the Apple iPhone 3G in
Canada, has added a lower-priced plan for sending and receiving
data over the handset after a wave of criticism over its
original pricing options.
Rogers said on Wednesday it would offer a promotional,
6-gigabyte plan for C$30 a month. It will be available to those
who activate by August 31 on a three-year contract and can be
added to any voice plans currently available.
Rogers also said it will limit purchases of Apple Inc's
(AAPL.O) iPhone 3G, available in Canada on Friday, to two per
customer due to "anticipated high demand."
The Toronto-based company said 6 GB of data capacity will
enable a customer to visit 35,952 web pages or send and receive
157,286 e-mails or watch 6,292 minutes of YouTube videos every
Rogers first announced voice and data plans for the iPhone
3G on June 27, ranging in price from C$60 ($59) to C$115 ($114)
a month. Those prices include unlimited Wi-Fi access at Rogers
hotspots and those of its Fido subsidiary.
The plans prompted an immediate outcry from consumers. A
protest website at www.ruinediphone.com claims it had gathered
more than 56,000 electronic signatures and letters of
The website is also encouraging consumers to cancel their
Carmi Levy, an industry analyst at AR Communications, said
the bad press Rogers received as a result of its iPhone plans
may serve as a lesson to others on pricing their products.
"It's completely out of line with what Americans are paying
for similar service," Levy said. "The degree of difference was
what was so galling to Canadians this time."
Canadians have long bemoaned high cost of wireless service
compared with what U.S. consumers pay, and many blame lack of
competition in a thinly populated country that stretches across
six time zones.
Aside from Rogers, only Telus Corp (T.TO) and BCE Inc
(BCE.TO) are national carriers, and Rogers is the only one of
the three with the GSM wireless technology that the iPhone
Rogers' top-end C$115 plan will buy 800 weekday minutes for
voice calling and unlimited time at evenings and weekends.
It will allow users to send 300 text messages and have 2
gigabytes of data usage -- something that Rogers has said is
enough for about 1 million text e-mails, or 16,000 Web pages,
or 7,000 photo attachments.
By comparison, AT&T (T.N), the exclusive iPhone service
provider in the United States, offers unlimited 3G iPhone data
plans for $30 a month in addition to voice plans that start at
$39.99 a month.
The iPhone combines Apple's ubiquitous iPod portable music
player with a smartphone that can receive e-mails wirelessly
and let users browse the Internet.
"This is probably the most important product launch in the
history of Rogers," Levy said.
Having the iPhone in its stable is a big plus for Rogers
ahead of the back-to-school season and the holidays -- two
periods during which consumers snap up new handsets.
In the long term, it gives Rogers a leg up as the market
moves away from older wireless technologies and toward
third-generation, or 3G, products, he said.
It also helps it ready itself for stiffer competition
following an auction of wireless spectrum that's currently
under way and likely to yield new entrants.
"The landscape is about to change significantly for
Rogers," Levy said. "They have to go into this period from a
position of strength. The iPhone 3G is what's going to let them
do it or accomplish it."
Prices for the phone itself are almost the same in Canada
and the United States -- C$199 or $199 for the 8 GB version or
C$299 or $299 for the 16 GB version.
But Rogers requires a three-year contract while AT&T asks
for a two-year commitment.
On Wednesday, Rogers shares were up 46 Canadian cents to
C$39.70 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; Editing by Frank McGurty)