« How reliable is your retirement income? | Main | Laid off? Protect your severance package »

June 29, 2021

Bell, Telus look to finally get in bed with the iPhone

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

If the current Canadian cell phone market was like the first 90 minutes of A Few Good Men, Rogers – the sole nationwide provider of the mega-popular iPhone – would definitely be Jack Nicholson. Respect-demandin’. Trash talkin’. Large, and in charge.

Of course, that would make Bell and Telus like Tom Cruise. Good-looking and sharp alternatives, but certainly not reaching their potential and absolutely (to this point) in awe of the big man on campus.

But as we all know, Cruise eventually gets the best of Nicholson, and a similar equalizing parallel could be taking place on Canada’s wireless scene that might allow Bell and Telus to finally knock Rogers off its damn happy pedestal.

Rumours first reported in the Toronto Star show that Bell Canada Inc. and Telus Corp. look set to join forces this fall in a network upgrade that would allow them to offer the iPhone.

According to the Star, the two “former phone monopolies” will pony up $1 billion to speed up their wireless network upgrade by a few months to bring the iPhone to customers this year.

As it stands now, Rogers is the only network in Canada that can support GSM-based devices like Apple’s smartphone.

Naturally, neither Telus nor Bell will comment officially. A Telus spokesman told the Star the telecom giant still plans to roll out its upgraded network in early 2010 to coincide with the Vancouver Olympics, which will bring with it a world’s worth spectators and, thus, cell phone users.

Yet the “buzz among industry insiders” says that Bell and Telus have already been in negotiations with Apple, who have been notorious for hard-balling providers with their iPhone because, frankly, they can.

What’s interesting to note is that despite its wild popularity, the iPhone isn’t the runaway cash cow for telecom companies it may seem.

Apple requires carriers to heavily subsidize the $600 price tag of the iPhone, making them eat about $400 per phone so the consumer can buy it for about 200 bucks.

Obviously, Rogers then charges you so much money for an iPhone contract (which requires you purchase both a voice and data plan) you’ll feel like you’ve just signed C.C. Sabathia to a 6-year deal with incentives every month you see your bill. So, you know, providers have that little lucrative diddy to fall back on. Don’t shed tears for them just yet.

Yet for the near-million Rogers iPhone users out there, the news that Telus and Bell are jumping in the game should come as a welcome relief. If my remote, limited and baseless knowledge of business is any indicator, more providers generally boosts competition. And more competition – now stay with me here – should provide consumers with more … competitive  prices. I know, I’ve just blown your mind.

But in all seriousness, the only thing that sucks more than a $100-a-month iPhone bill is watching Alex Rios play baseball in 2009. And that’s saying something.

Bell and Telus, we’re counting on you here. Go ahead and force Rogers to admit they ordered the Code Red. In the name of Private Santiago, we’re begging you.



Post a comment


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...