US Data Roaming: New Low Price of $6,000 per GB, Or More?

Via mobile maven Roland Tanglao, Alec Saunders of Ottawa blogs about Rogers recently reduced roaming rates. I recall at one point the rate was something insane like 5¢ per KB. So what is this new rate? Let’s play “ask a CSR and hope for a meaningful answer”:

The friendly CSR who answered Howard’s call provided the answer:

“How much data are you likely to consume on your trip, Sir?”, she asked.

“I don’t know”, said Howard.  “How much would a gigabyte cost?”

“Umm….”, came the reply “$6,000.  Let me just double check that for you.  (pause) yes sir, it actually is $6,000″.

For what?  So that AT&T and Rogers can exchange billing records?

$6,000 per gigabyte. Jeez frak, that’s “reduced”?  By comparison, my data plan works out to $5 per gigabyte, of which I’ve never come close to the monthly allotment.

Alec goes on to describe how he worked around these insane rates by using an old Cingular SIM card he had with a Rebelsim, which tricks locked phones into accepting SIMs that it ordinarily wouldn’t. The phone is able to run in the US, with a second US account paying standard rates.

After reading this, it occured to me to check my bill to see what I was charged during a recent trip to Seattle. Of course, I kept data roaming off except for a few instances where we needed directions. Just loading the map, getting directions, and turning data roaming back off. The iPhone’s map capabilities are useless without an Internet connection as they depend on being able to connect to Google. For 1.4 MB of data roaming: $43.38. Grrreat, interesting. Really curious about that since that works out to ~$30,720/GB. A phone call is in order, just as soon as I have the time to wait around on hold. Sorry little Timmy, it looks like it’ll have to be a Kraft Dinner Christmas this year.

In other news, Ted Rogers was recently hospitalized for cardiac problems. Did it happen after he learned of these rates?

I’ve learned my man lesson for the day: when lost in a foreign city, forget your iPhone and it’s many magical, data-dependent capabilities. Just man up and ask a local for directions.