I sincerely hope the higher-ups at Bell, Rogers and Telus are paying attention to this story in Saturday’s Financial Post. To quote:
The biggest game-changing element of the iPhone is that Apple is reportedly forcing operators to offer generous voice and data plans along the lines of AT&T’s, so that the customer’s experience isn’t hobbled.
Whether you buy into the iPhone hype or not, using any of its connected apps is a glimpse into a utopian future of a ubiquitous internet available in the palm of everyone’s hand. And in Canada the only thing standing in the way is our wireless carriers and their ridiculously-overpriced data plans.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: You get a swanky new phone on a multi-year contract, and one day while poking around you find that there’s a web browser on it — neat! You visit your carrier’s wireless web portal, maybe do a search or two using Google Mobile, and if you’re really clever find a mobile site that’s actually worth a return visit, something like the wireless version of the CBC. This goes on for a couple of weeks until you get your next cell phone bill, at which point you recoil in horror at the tens, hundreds or even thousands of dollars in data charges! In a panic you call your carrier and block all access to the internet from your handset and vow to never open your mobile browser ever again.
Ultimately you need an unlimited data connection (like I had on my beloved hiptop) to fully utilize the wonders of the wireless web, or at the very least have the ability to piggyback on your home and/or office WiFi (like I can with my spiffy new Nokia).
Speaking of WiFi, here’s another opportunity for revenue that our country’s wireless carriers have squandered with a half-baked idea. You may have noticed a sticker in your local coffee shop or bookstore advertising a service called Hotspot. It’s not a bad idea — WiFi access to the internet billed through your mobile phone provider at flat rates by the hour, day, week or month. Only problem is that you need the full version of Windows 2000 or XP to get on it, and last time I checked nobody in their right mind wants to haul a laptop around to check their email or a couple of headlines over a cup of the black stuff…
Google will soon be blanketing their neck of the woods in free WiFi, and it’s only a matter of time before the folks at Hotspot or even Toronto Hydro Telecom find out the hard way that you can’t compete with free. When the iPhone finally makes its way up to The Great White North you can bet that Apple will have something to say about the going rates on wireless data here. If Mr. Jobs & Co. are able to move mountains and get Rogers (the most likely candidate) to offer the iPhone with a halfway reasonable unlimited data plan, Bell and Telus will have to follow suit with their own non-iPhone products to compete. And as a final result we’ll one day be enjoying wireless connectivity out and about at flat rates similar to our internet connections at home.
I say bring it on!