Rogers under fire for iPad plans

Rogers is taking fire after backtracking on an offer to allow iPhone and other smartphone customers to share their data connections with Apple's upcoming iPad device.

Rogers is taking fire after backtracking on an offer to allow iPhone and other smartphone customers to share their data connections with Apple's upcoming iPad device.

The wireless company on Monday announced it would offer two iPad service plans, with 250 megabytes of monthly usage for $15 or five gigabytes for $35, when the device becomes available in Canada on May 28. Rogers also touted the option to "add iPad to your existing Rogers data plan" for $20, an offer that was listed on Apple's Canadian website.

After a number of customers asked for clarification on the Redboard website of Rogers, a company official revealed the data-sharing offer was an error and would be removed, which angered a number of interested customers.

"My excitement over getting 3G on an iPad has completely disappeared with your statement that the shared data plan was a mistake," said one poster named David. "Can you please explain to me why I am allowed to connect a netbook to my iPhone at no extra charge, but having a second 3G device consuming the exact same data plan is not allowed? It’s the same data."

Apple is selling two versions of the iPad — one can connect to the internet only through Wi-Fi, while another can also use 3G wireless, the same technology used by smartphones to surf the web and send email. Rogers generally allows customers to "tether" their smartphones to laptop computers and use them as wireless modems.

Potential customers also complained about the pricing on Rogers's iPad plans. Although the basic 250 MB plan for $15 is the same that AT&T is selling in the United States, the $35 plan for five gigabytes is a worse value than Rogers's American counterpart, which is offering unlimited usage for $30 U.S.

A Rogers official said this is because 99.8 per cent of iPhone subscribers use less than five gigabytes of data, as do more than 95 per cent of customers who own its Rocket Stick and 3G-enabled laptop devices. The official did acknowledge that the iPad is a new kind of device, so it's too early to say whether customers will need more than five gigabytes of usage.

Other outrage

This is not the first time Rogers has provoked anger in regards to an Apple product launch. The company moved tens of thousands of potential customers into joining an online protest when it announced initial pricing plans for the iPhone in 2008.

The company's plans started at about $67 for 150 voice minutes and 400 MB of usage, which did not compare well to AT&T, which was offering 450 minutes and unlimited data for almost the same price. Rogers customers also had to sign three-year contracts compared to two years on AT&T.

The company eventually backed down and offered better deals.

On Friday, Bell Canada said the iPad would be compatible with its network, but did not announce pricing. Bell shares a network with Telus, which means that all three major wireless providers are likely to be able to accommodate the iPad. Telus, however, could not provide any further information on Friday.

Rogers said the iPad will not be available on its Fido brand at launch.

Prices for the iPad itself, without a data plan, fared well in an international comparison done by Macworld on Monday. Most models placed second or third in price in a comparison of 10 countries, with the website pointing out that Canada seems to have the best deals across the board outside of the United States.

The iPad will sell for between $549 and $879, depending on the model.


Peter Nowak


Peter Nowak is a Toronto-based technology reporter and author of Humans 3.0: The Upgrading of the Species.