Saturday, February 14, 2009

US Roaming Costs with a Rogers iPhone: Rogers vs AT&T GoPhone

Many people know Canadians as hockey players, or people who say sorry too much, or people who pronounce 'about' funny.

Not as many people know our proud tradition of extortionate wireless plans, so I thought I'd share.

By now you may know we have the longest minimum contracts to purchase iPhones - 3yrs. Something like a $2-3k commitment.

Since I recently went to the US with my Rogers iPhone I got curious about how much it might cost me to use it while I was there. Rogers make it quite difficult to find out their international data roaming and voice rates, at least to find a consistent answer. Online I found three different data roaming rates, ranging from outrageous to highway robbery to obscene "I demand a full public inquiry" material. I couldn't actually find the lowest rate on a Rogers site, but someone posted it in a forum and claimed it came from Rogers. The other two more expensive rates came from different pages on

I decided to compare the different rates I found with the comparable cost to buy an AT&T GoPhone in the US and use their Pay As You Go plans.

The table below shows some representative numbers, obviously not based on what I might have used for the week I was there had I actually used yellowsn0w to unlock my iPhone before leaving for the US, and bought a GoPhone + SIM at Fry's for $20 when I got there.

The GoPhone plan I didn't actually purchase online from AT&T after buying the phone at Fry's costs $.10/min for calls within the US plus $.29/min to Canada. They just introduced a 100MB data plan for $20 when I got there.

As you can see, the Rogers costs range from 8 to 50 times the costs of the completely theoretical 'GoPhone' approach.

Oh, sure, I probably could have phoned Rogers to ask about adding a US data roaming package to my monthly bill and got something a little less obscene, but this analysis is so much more fun, plus I didn't have to waste another half hour waiting in their call center queues.

If anyone reading this knows details of cheaper approaches that don't require getting a new phone number, the comments are open!


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