I have a BlackBerry for work. I travel quite a bit in my job. My travel is primarily within Canada and the United States. Living in Canada, I needed a phone plan that included North American long distance and roaming, as well as data access throughout North America.
Clearly with a BlackBerry, data access is critical. I do try to minimize the data I access with it where possible. I don’t open big email attachments with it, and I have turned off image download when browsing websites.
I spent a few weeks this summer in the US. I got my bill and was surprised to see data overage charges amounting to about $40. I have a data plan with a 1 GB limit and I know I don’t even come close to that amount in a given month.
When I called my service provider to ask about the overage charges, the CSR said that my data plan only applies to Canada and that when in the US, there is a charge of about $1 per MB of data usage.
This was surprising for two reasons:
- I have a fairly expensive plan that I thought covered all my my North American dialing and data
- $1 per MB is $1024 per GB of data!!!
Think about that one a minute. About $1000 to wirelessly download 1 GB of data when I’m in the US. I didn’t realize electrons and radio waves were that expensive! Thank goodness I turned off the image download when browsing the Web.
When I expressed my surprise to the CSR about the extreme cost of this, he said that I was actually getting a discount on my US data access because of an option I had purchased with my data plan.
Without that option, the cost would be $20 per MB. Yes, that is twenty dollars per megabyte, or over $20,000 per gigabyte of data! WTF??
I said in shock, “Are you kidding me? That’s completely ridiculous!”
He started a sentence where he was going to tell me how expensive it is for them to provide the service. In mid sentence, I asked him to stop because I really didn’t want to hear whatever excuse he was going to give.
I know this cost of $20 per MB is artificially high because the companies want to extort incent people into getting additional service options, and (at least in Canada), the lack of any effective competition and incentive makes Canada one of the most expensive countries in the world for cell phone rates.
So, if you’ve got about $20,000 burning a hole in your pocket, give it to me(!), or go to your nearest Honda dealer and get a new set of wheels.
Or, make sure you DON’T have a US data plan with a Canadian cell phone provider, go across the border with your Blackberry or iPhone, and then click this link, login, download and look forward to your next phone bill.