Canadian Wireless Carrier Rogers 'Surprised' That People Like Unlimited Data Plans

from the surprised-by-the-obvious dept

Despite industry claims, US wireless is painfully mediocre. US consumers pay some of the highest prices for mobile data in the developed world, thanks to regulatory capture and wireless competitors who embrace “competition theater” more than actual price competition. Also contrary to industry claims, these high prices don’t necessarily reflect quality; US LTE (4G) speeds are not only among the slowest in the developed world, arbitrary throttling, caps, and other usage restrictions reduce the value of these connections even further.

Up in Canada the problem is even worse, thanks to industry consolidation the US appears poised to replicate. Rogers, historically one of the more embarrassing Canadian telcos on the net neutrality front, has seen its stock drop this week after the company was forced to slash its revenue expectations for this year. The reason? Rogers, under pressure from the public and regulators, was forced to introduce unlimited data plans this year, causing a user exodus from more expensive, metered offerings that sock users with costly per gigabyte surcharges.

Rogers, for its part, was amusingly surprised by the sudden consumer interest in (relatively) straight forward wireless data plans that don’t nickel-and-dime users to death:

“Enthusiasm for wireless data plans that don’t charge overage fees has forced Rogers Communications Inc. to slash its revenue expectations for this year. Senior executives told analysts Wednesday that they were positively surprised that about one million customers have switched to its unlimited wireless data plans, but acknowledged that has meant less revenue from overage fees generated when consumers surpass the monthly limits.”

That Rogers was surprised here speaks volumes about how in touch North American telecom giants are with consumer demand. The company proceeded to note that while it was taking a slight hit this year, the shift toward less confusing, unlimited data plans was a good thing overall for everybody:

“Chief executive Joe Natale said Rogers did an analysis before making the wireless plan change, but was surprised by how quickly consumers gravitated to the new unlimited data offerings.

“That ended up being three times the rate that we had anticipated, which I think is a good thing,” Natale said.

He said the switch to unlimited wireless data plans, which began in late June, was the beginning of a “critical and necessary shift” that has three long-term advantages: higher consumer data usage, increased customer satisfaction and lower costs to acquire and retain customers.

“Overage is a big pain point for customers. Rather than continue to perpetuate that complexity, which drives all sorts of … costs in our organization, we said ‘Let’s bite the bullet. Let’s create a very simple construct. And let’s get to the simplicity dividend as quickly as we can.'”

Granted it’s worth noting that just like in the States, Rogers’ “unlimited” data plans aren’t truly unlimited; you’ll still hit a usage cap after which your mobile data speeds will be dramatically reduced for the remainder of the billing period. Still, baby steps and all that. That said, Canadian consumers still pay even higher prices for mobile data than users in the US, thanks largely to mindless industry consolidation leading to just three major competitors. It’s a trail the US is intent on stumbling down as well despite ample evidence of negative outcomes.

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Comments on “Canadian Wireless Carrier Rogers 'Surprised' That People Like Unlimited Data Plans”

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crade (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Unfortunately this isn’t even close to true.. and the reason is because governments are corrupt, so regulations are more often than not "for the corporations and by the corporations".

This is actually a fine example as a big reason (probably the biggest reason) we have only a few choices for telecoms is because there are protectionist regs that make it difficult for both new and existing foreign companies to enter this space.

Anonymous Coward says:

I know I, for one, absolutely hate getting a better deal on anything. Given an option for better, more reliable internet service with no caps and at a reasonable monthly cost without all the little "fees" there’s no way I would take that over my slow, often unusable internet at sky high rates. Obviously I feel the same about cellular service.

Joe Natale is an idiot.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s great to commend him for that…

…until you realize that we the consumers have been telling him this for over a decade. This change came precisely because the uproar got so loud that the CRTC (Canadian FCC) could no longer ignore it and was beginning to investigate whether it needed to start setting rules. At which point Rogers (and Bell and Telus) magically created, all at the same time, "Unlimited" plans, all working the exact same way and priced at the same level.

And THEN Natale has this big revelation that maybe cutting the crap is good for everyone, not just his victims.

AricTheRed says:

Shocked I Say!

My wife was really surprised about my initial eagerness at her unlimited seks plan.

When she originally offered it I though it was sex with her, but it turned out to be an unlimited seks with whoever wanted to do it with me.

Let me tell you I was shocked, shocked I say, when Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, T Mobile, Frontier, & Rogers all came over for unlimited seks and totally screwed everyone over.

bt says:

My only comment is that these companies are not "out of touch" about any of this. Their comments are absurd window-dressing, and all of the financial analysts who follow their finances are in on the gag.

All of these people know exactly what they are doing, they know what they want, they lie more or less constantly about it, so that they can get as much as possible out of a compliant government and disengage voters/consumers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

More than you know.

Rogers started out as a national Cable TV company, then sold Western Canada to Shaw Cable because it wasn’t profitable enough. Then they bought up some small cellular networks, lumped them all together, killed all the competitive contracts, and put them all under Rogers’ fabled Customer Services and fired the support teams at the original cell cos. I say fabled, because I know of nobody who has ever seen it.

Rogers, Bell and Telus also have another thing going: they have alternate "brands" that pretend to be independent cell providers, that do contract-free cellular, where EVERYTHING is a line item. So you can choose between these "pay as you go, get charged through the nose" outfits, or RogersBellus term contracts where you’re locked in and get the OPTION to pay more to get things like pooled data, unlimited NA calling, unlimited NA texting, etc.

In Canada, everyone knows when they’ve been rogered. And there’s only so much the likes of Teksavvy can do about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: It's worse than that

The same companies who control cable and landline also control the satellite TV and also control most of the broadcast networks.

I’m sitting on the Ontario-NYS border watching Canadian OTA signals drop like flies over the last several years while US OTA broadcasters add new subchannels and actually try to improve their coverage. It’s this way because those who own the Canadian networks also own the cable companies, so stand to benefit if OTA dies outright.

And then there’s mobile telephony. Can’t even start an MVNO in Canada. Ice Wireless (which is a facility-based carrier in the high Arctic) tried with sugarmobile, and Robbers – er – Rogers shut them down for permanent roaming. The CRTC and the Competiton Bureau are both a bad joke, as they’re a dumping ground for patronage appointments from the very companies being regulated.

Almost makes the FCC look like a model of southern efficiency and northern charm by comparison.

Anonymous Coward says:

Rogers’ "unlimited" data plans aren’t truly unlimited; you’ll still hit a usage cap after which your mobile data speeds will be dramatically reduced

It should also be noted that the caps are extremely low, usually in the tens of gigabytes. If you’re planning to ask "why could anyone need so much data on a phone?" that just reinforces the idea that we’re talking about second-class data connections for second-class devices, because nobody would think twice about a few hundred gigs on a proper broadband connection—or accept the idea that they should pay for a separate connection for every device.

Crazy Canuck says:

I was paying $90/month for a plan that included 4gb. I ended up accidentally using most of my data one night as I disabled my wifi earlier in the day and forgot to re-enable it and spent the night watching movies/youtube. I called Rogers to try to tack on a data upgrade for the month, as I knew the overage charges would be far worse. The agent ended up talking me into a unlimited plan, which was 10gb un-throttled per month, and it was only $75/month. It still had all the other perks, like Canada wide calling, so there was no decrease in other services. So they saved me $15/month and overage fees for that month, while also more than doubling my effective data usage cap. So that made me happy. Though I still think $75/month is excessive.

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