A little iPhone data plan math

Unlimited data ftw!In light of today’s news, I’ve had some time to think about the plans that Rogers/Fido are offering for the iPhone.

I happened to be heading down to Seattle/Portland for a little vacation and decided to ‘splurge’ and buy the $19.99 unlimited (edge) data addon for my AT&T Pay-as-you-go sim card that I use in my iPhone when I’m in the US. It’s a fairly recent feature that is available to PAYG users. You simply call up the GoPhone number (611) and have it added to your account. It expires 30 days after you add it assuming you have money left in your account. So for my 5 day trip, I have unlimited data on my iPhone for about $4/day. The cost will go further down if I travel again down here within the next 25 days after my return.

I figured this would be a good way to see what my actual usage will be and may help to decide if I actually signup for the iPhone 3G or simply add the newly added $30 for 300mb plan that Rogers has to my existing iPhone.

Here’s how my first day went:

I reset the data counter before I put my AT&T sim into the iPhone and turned off wifi so this is just today’s usage. This is a couple hours of web surfing, checking three email accounts every 15 minutes, a bunch of google maps lookups and sending a few photos to Flickr. No Youtube.

Basically about 15mb of usage for what I would call a slightly above average day…probably more consistent with a weekend day. Let’s say that I do 30mb on an average weekend and multiply that by 4 weekends a month = 120mb.

So let’s say I do 10mb on a weekday. 10mb x 20 days = 200mb for an average month of weekday usage. If we total this usage for an average month we get about 320mb. Keep in mind I haven’t done any audio or video streaming and only basic email and web surfing. Who knows what kind of usage things like the Apps Store are going to incur.

I’m trying to be realistic in my usage. I’ve had my iPhone for almost a year now so the ‘oooh shiny new toy’ feeling has long worn off. Let’s say just for fun, that my monthly usage is rounded up to 400mb/month…conveniently the same as Rogers least expensive iPhone plan.

The biggest problem I have with the plans probably isn’t the amount of data (of course I would have preferred something similar to what AT&T offers), it’s everything else. A paltry 150 weekday minutes and 75 text messages just isn’t servicable. Evenings/weekends that start at 9pm? COME ON!

Maybe this works with a crappy Motorola phone but not with the iPhone. Of course you can pay more to add on more….but why does it jump from 75 to 10,000 texts if you spend an additional $20?

There just is no middle ground.

This doesn’t even take into account (or at least speak to) what about people on family/couples plans? I currently have unlimited incoming voice. It would appear that I would lose that unless I can ‘buy’ it back.

I’m just curious who Rogers is expecting to spend upwards of $100 a month for a basic plan? I know a lot of people already pay this or more for their plans, but it’s usually either business users, people with shitty plans to begin with or people with huge overages. I’m talking about the base plan. The fact is these plans are bundles of shit that can’t be decoupled or mix’n’matched.

We’ll see how my data usage experiment plays out of the coming days. I just may be sticking with my 1st gen phone.

Stogats, over on HowardForums has posted some contact email addresses for all the people you might want to let know how you feel about these plans.

Also, check out Tod’s post with a lot more info about the iPhone rollout.


  1. With my current unlimited EDGE data plan, I do 400MB a month which is mostly ShoZu uploading 5 Megapixel photos to flickr and a few 1 minute (the most i can do before Qik falls irrevocably behind) streaming video uploads as well as a bit of web surfing.

    With 3G and ShoZu and Qik on the iPhone, I bet I’d do over 800MB to 1GB just because Qik on 3G is actually usable for 20 minute live video streaming uploads. Unfortunately I can’t afford $100 plus system access fee plus tax for 1GB. I’m guessing that Rogers doesn’t think live video streaming via Qik or Flixwagon et al is a mass market app. Mark my words it will be (maybe not now but definitely within 5 years)

  2. Of course nobody responded to my critique of your last post, because it’s much easier to just wail on about things. Here though I do agree with you, though maybe I’ll point out a few things.

    1) You’re right in usage. 300 -> 500 MB a month is probably realistic. I used the same as you, about 10MB a day not counting Wi-Fi. Let’s say we’re going to use more on 3G, and round it up to about 400. That still puts us at the second tier of plan pricing, on the basis of data.

    2) These prices are not nessicarily the only prices and plans you’ll be able to do with the iPhone. Rogers has bundled pricing plans with the BlackBerries too, though most people opt to select a voice and data plan seperate. Rogers is still being cagey about what the options with the iPhone will be, we’re not even allowed to talk about these plans in the store even though they’re released online, but it’s very likely that you’ll be able to do a regular data plan and any voice plan you want. I can’t promise it, but it’s the way every other phone they offer works.

    3) I already did the math on one of the reason data rates in Canada are higher in than in the states in your post yesterday. Again smaller potential market and higher network costs per customer do drive it upwards. A better comparison than between Rogers and AT&T would be Rogers and Telus or Rogers and Bell. At least they’re selling (almost) the same thing in the same market.

  3. Aak. Once again forgot some points. Apologies for double posting.

    You mentioned the apps store. We’re not sure how this will run yet, unless it’s been said somewhere that this will work on 3G I’d actually imagine that it’ll run like the iTunes store and only through Wi-Fi. Thus downloading applications won’t be an issue, in regards to the data plan.

    Though as pointed out by Roland some of the apps may start eating a lot of data, especially ones that do things like stream video (though with no video recording the iPhone won’t be upstreaming video with this rev.).

  4. John says:

    @Jeffery The Apps Store was discussed in detail during the WWDC Keynote. Unlike the iTunes WiFi store, you’ll be able to download apps over the 3G network as long as they are 10mb or less in size. Judging from the size of the ones on Installer, there will be tons that fit this size limit…assuming Apple approves them.

    While video recording is not officially offered by Apple, there are already apps available for jailbroken iPhones that can do this….and do it quite well at least as a camcorder (record then upload – no realtime streaming that I’ve come across). Qik and Shozu have publically stated they have versions of their apps running already via the SDK.

    I didn’t even address things like how Mobile Me will impact users from a data perspective….pushing out email/calendar/contact updates on a daily basis could potentially eat a nice chunk of that 400mb plan on the low end.

    I’m currently leaning toward the $75/month plan from a ‘what I would feel comfortable with perspective’….I just have to justify the cost of it. $75 $20 value pack SAF taxes means a significant jump in my monthly bill. It’s one thing if that was unlimited but since it’s not, it’s a tough pill to swallow.

    At the moment though, I’m seriously considering just adding the $30/300mb plan to my exisiting iPhone…I’ve gotten along just fine with my 5mb allotment lots of wifi access for the past year.

  5. Unless Apple’s doing things way differently, Mobile Me shouldn’t be too much of a bandwidth hog. BlackBerry has had this sort of over-the-air data syncing for years now for corporate BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) clients and their plans have required a far smaller amount of data.

    I didn’t watch the full keynote, so I missed that about the apps store. Thanks for the info. Again it seems like Apple’s trying to keep the 3G data usage down with the limit, but it could impact it.

    Again Rogers has not really be that public about these plans. Rogers reps aren’t even allowed to mention them in store to customers yet. I actually would not be surprised if you can actually use your current voice plan and the $30 data plan on the new iPhone 3G. Having read over the new plans, and with nearly ten years experiance working with Rogers, I’m not seeing anything to suggest that as with every other phone they sell you wouldn’t be able to build your own plan. I’d be surprised if these weren’t just bundles that they’re offering to save people the time of building their own.

    Again with Rogers being so cagey I can’t say for sure. It’s just based on experiance and what little they’re saying now I can’t see why you wouldn’t be able to do that.

  6. Peter says:

    @Jeffrey I’m assuming you work for Rogers based on your responses. This makes you more informed about certain things, I’m sure, but don’t take it the wrong way when we read your responses with a guarded view.

    I wrote Rogers about this and got a response back. Their general attitude is that most people don’t use much data so they’re doing us a favour by providing such “value priced” packages. I do not agree with this statement. While it may be true right now that people are not using much data on their 1st gen iPhones I feel that is directly related to the fact that 2-way apps are not yet readily available. Oh, and related to the fact that EDGE is basically too crappy to be useful with anything, nevermind data-hungry apps. When the App Store is announced along with 3G, as John says, things will no doubt change.

    I have considered the fact that this is protection for Rogers, pure and simple. It’s entirely possible their network can’t handle the potential load from opening the pipe and they would be faced with a customer support backlash. It’s happened in the past, so I’m sure they are covering their asses this time around. That’s somewhat acceptable, but don’t tie in a 3-year commitment around what might just be bad infrastructure.

    And if a la carte and/or other plans will be available, why shoot yourself in the foot by announcing such contentious plans in the first place? As this was a press release it has to be taken as their intentions. With no other announcements, they have drawn their line in the sand and show no other options or flexibility.

    Plus we all know how geeks love to have companies tell them they know better and know what’s good for them. It tends to initiate a rebellious response, not to mention most of the time “they” are incorrect anyway.

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