Petition won’t budge Rogers on data rates

As I write this column, almost 8,400 people had signed a petition in an effort to pressure Rogers Wireless to lower data access charges for iPhone users. (The petition also asks that Rogers lift the 25 MB cap on its ludicrously named Unlimited data plan.)

I am a big fan of grassroots participation. I am also a cynic. So on the one hand, far be it from me to discourage anyone from signing the petition . On the other, I don’t count on it to effect any change.

The fact is, Rogers is the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in Canada. One could try to float the anticompetiveness notion with the Competition Bureau, but the fact that there’s no other GSM carrier in Canada holes that boat. And given copyright legislation that would make it illegal to unlock GSM devices, Rogers holds all the iCards even if Telus does switch to a GSM network.

This being the case, Rogers will charge what the market will bear. And you are the market. If you find Rogers’ rates unbearable, vote with your feet — there are other devices out there (not nearly as slick and intuitive, of course) and cheaper networks. Go out and get an HTC Touch from Bell or Telus. The only thing that will shift Rogers’ stance on the issue is a spectacular lack of uptake of the iPhone.

Yes, I know it’s cool. The interface is much more intuitive and Windows Mobile can be an irritating operating system. I understand the weakness for slick. I have it myself.

You can have it both ways, of course.

How? Step 1: Keep your existing mobile phone. Use it only for voice and text messaging. Step 2: Buy an Apple iPod Touch. It’s pretty much everything an iPhone is, except for the phone part. In most urban environments now, it’s easy to find cheap or free Wi-Fi service. (You lucky Fredrictonians!) No caps, no fees. You’re welcome.

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