Bell Canada’s Mobile Browsing Bomb: What You Need to Know

Ask and ye shall receive… Yesterday faithful reader Elias wondered why I hadn’t yet covered the new $7/month unlimited data plan from Bell Canada. Today I present your answer!

For anyone who hasn’t heard, Bell Canada made a surprising move in offering an unlimited data plan for a shockingly-reasonable seven bones per month with their newly-released HTC Touch. The Howard Chui Forums are all abuzz over this, but as any good web surfer should know, forum does not necessarily equal fact. So I set out in today’s blinding snow flurry for an arduous ten-minute walk over to the Eaton Centre Bell World on a fact-finding mission.

I can’t say I was too impressed with the answer I got there. A sales associate told me that this plan wasn’t available for any other Bell handset, only the Touch — the reason being that the Touch is the only handset in Bell’s lineup that offers a full HTML browser.

Oh-kay… I found that a bit hard to believe as Bell currently has at least two other high-functioning HTC devices on their roster. So I trudged back home through the trace of wet snow and logged onto the Bell Canada website, where I found this handy live chat feature:

Bell Live Chat

As you can imagine, the wait was a little more than 3 minutes… When I was eventually connected to someone, here’s what went down:

Chat Information: Welcome to bell.ca! You are chatting with Khalil H.
Khalil H: Hello, thank you for visiting bell.ca. How may I help you today?
you: Hi, I’ve a question about the HTC Touch, one of your wireless PDA phones…
Khalil H: Sure, I can definitely help you with that.
you: It’s specifically about the $7/month unlimited data plan that comes with the phone.
Khalil H: This is the mobile browser .
you: Does this data plan also apply to any other handsets in your lineup?
Khalil H: Yes, any phone you want.
you: Are there any restrictions? Acceptable use, tethering to a laptop, that kind of thing?
Khalil H: Well you need to get a data plan in this case.
you: So the plan wouldn’t apply to an email client on the HTC Touch, for example…
Khalil H: That’s right.
you: Ok. One more quick question if I could trouble you: Is this mobile browser plan available across Canada or just in Ontario?
Khalil H: All the plans offered by Bell Mobility are available across Canada.
you: Ok, great. Thanks for the info…

So there it is… The $7 unlimited plan is for web browsing only, but you can use it with any handset. Here’s Bell’s official page for the plan.

First, the bad news:

  • BlackBerry users are out of luck, and still at the mercy of whatever Bell wants to charge them for their precious push email.
  • Even though these fancy HTC handsets come with USB connectors, you can’t tether them to your laptop and use your Bell connection to surf on a bigger screen — well you can, but you’re gonna get charged much more than $7/month for it!

And some good news:

And some things to watch out for:

More on this as it develops…

By Andrew

Mobile phones, Linux and copyright reform. Those go together, right?

14 comments

  1. AC:
    thanks for the dogged legwork on this, through sleet or snow. Today my son you are a mailman….
    There are quite a few Bell phones that can operate Mobile Browser, according to the Bell site (which you linked to above). On the official page, you can check your phone on a link that opens to a PDF:

    http://tinyurl.com/3bwc92

    Curiously, the Toronto Star article on the new $7 miracle parrots what the sales rep told you:

    http://tinyurl.com/2u5lya

    I’m guessing the Bell World people have been told that the plan is only available for the HTC Touch, but with all the links active on the Mobile Browser page I could log in and add it to my own phone (with a 24-48 hr delay, naturally). Makes me think they’re tying in the rate plan as part of the Touch’s launch and PR, just in time for Christmas.

    I’ll probably drop by the Bell World at Yonge & Eglinton this weekend, just to check out my theory. I do plan on adding the $7 feature since I’m only using my LG Chocolate for phone calls and timing my laundry–it would save me a lot of hassle to have mobile internet access to things like weather reports, Google, and maps (and this blog, naturally…).

    Ed

  2. Okay, I have to correct an error made by Bell’s own CS! The plan works for everything, the built-in email client, 3rd party apps, web browsing etc. How do I know this? Well, this phone and plan can be had on prepaid, in fact quite a few people over at the aforementioned forums have done that, and for all their browsing /email/3rd party apps they have only gotten charged the $7 for the plan, nothing else. Heck, the actual phone is advertised with unlimited email included. Its definitely NOT just for web browsing. Take a tour of the Bell section over at HowardForums for proof.

    At the same time, this has caused a change in Telus: they just introduced a $15 unlimited data plan, available for any device including the Pearl and Telus’ multiple HTC’s.

  3. In addition to my last comment, I also wanted to add some explanation for this:
    Bell had no idea what data is what, other than for tethering. They don’t know if you’re web browsing on your Touch, emailing etc. etc. They CAN tell if you are buffering something (extreme data use) and they WILL eventually cut you off for that, and they can limit your access to tethering. But thats all they can do.

  4. Thanks for the heads-up on that new Telus Mobility plan… Interesting times we’re finding ourselves in!

    Here’s the (Ontario) link to what Elias is writing about:

    http://preview.tinyurl.com/2qf9tk

    It should be noted that the page states that the plan is for email and IM only — the email should be easy to enforce on a BlackBerry, as it goes through a dedicated BlackBerry pipe. As for the IM, or anything on the Telus Touch, I have no idea how Telus could differentiate one type of data from another. I guess the same goes for Bell…

    I’m still waiting for my first Fido Bill with my new 3G value pack, and hoping there’s some truth to the rumours of subscribers getting unlimited data for the first four months.

    I guess one thing is clear from all of this… That iPhone is definitely on its way, and the other carriers are moving fast to lock in as many people as they can before it gets here. But as we all know, multi-year contracts on any carrier are a bad idea

  5. Actually, although thats what the Telus plan says, its not true. Telus started with that plan, but around Tuesday started calling all their data customers to get them on a new plan that included, at first, 250MB of web browsing data, and apparently now includes an unlimited amount of web browsing. Telus is at least make an effort here. Rogers is not budging at all. In fact, I’m leaving them on Monday (bye bye E61).

    Here is the link:
    http://howardforums.com/showthread.php?t=1281082

  6. I have two friends this weekend that pulled out that HTC with the seven dollar a month disclaimer.

    I hate the phone it’s really waaay too small, but the landscape certainly seems to be changing. Again, AC, thanks for doing the hard work for me. I was curious about what the dealio really was. Looks legit.

  7. I have to admit I’m not exactly warm to the Touch myself (get it?) — a friend let me play with his Telus-branded Touch and I couldn’t even get the damn screen lock to open!

    But even if it is an iPhone-wannabe, HTC has already sold a million of ’em — I wonder if non-exclusive carrier agreements has anything to do with that…

  8. AC:

    I signed up online for the $7 miracle on Saturday, got the confirmation e-mail Sunday night, so I ventured into Mobile Browser Land for the first time ever.
    Apparently, it’s Van Halen ringtone day, because the first thing that came up was the VH logo. A 2-page menu is the home page for the browser, with categories to different sites. Weather, news, etc. are all there. I found Google buried in the 2nd page and googled “Andrew Currie,” which led me to this blog, which loaded in a nice, readable format. I’ll have to play around with bookmarks, settings, etc. to see what happens.

    And if I get my camera to take readable images, I’ll link the results here….

    Cheers,

    Ed

    I tried taking photos of the screen, but the macro capability of my camera sucks.

  9. Goes to show you, I guess, that “unlimited” in this country is a bit of a misnomer.

    Rogers starts charging extra for broadband internet traffic that goes above 100 GB/month. Even the unlimited local calling I get with my old City Fido plan has a soft cap of 5,000 minutes — although I’ve yet to come anywhere near that…

  10. Someone who took such plan (I am not sure that it is specifically this one, but it looks like) did not understand the difference between “unlimited browsing on any handset” and “unlimited access to Internet”. I understand such “mistake”. I am a software engineer, connected to Internet for 15 years, and I don’t either.

    So the guy got this month a $85,000 bill from Bell Canada…

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/reuters/071213/tecnology/tech_phonebill_col

    But these people are really nice ones. They ask him only a few $3,400… To learn that that “unlimited” is only a marketing empty buzzword.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: