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Rogers wraps 'unlimited' mobile browsing in small print

The True North not so free

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In announcing its unlimited mobile data plan, mega Canadian telco Rogers Communications has redefined the word unlimited.

As revealed by the folks at the metro-blog The Torontoist, Rogers' new data plan is completely unlimited except where it's limited.

First off, the seven-Canadian-bucks-a-month plan applies only to "on-device mobile browsing". That means there's a cap on text messages (2500 per month) and photo or video messages (1000 per month).

And "on-device mobile browsing" applies only to certain devices and certain sorts of mobile browsing. As long as you're using one of four Rogers-approved handsets in tandem with Rogers-approved applications, you can browse the mobile web as much as you like without paying an extra penny. Otherwise, you're charged five Canadian cents for every kilobyte.

"[The plan] is available on select phones only (PDAs such as Blackberry or Windows Mobile devices, PC cards and non-Rogers certified devices are not eligible)", reads the fine print. "Data usage incurred on ineligible devices, incurred while tethering (using device as wireless modem for laptop) or incurred using non-Rogers (3rd party) applications downloaded to your device will be subject to pay-per-use charges of 5 cents/KB."

So, this unlimited plan doesn't even apply to all Rogers-certified handsets. It's not available with Rogers BlackBerries, for instance, and it's certainly not available with unlocked iPhones (the Apple status symbol isn't officially available north of the 50 states).

We gave Rogers the chance to discuss this unlimited data plan, but a spokeswoman told us it would rather not. "We are declining the opportunity," she said.

Meanwhile, the company said this to the CBC: "We're in the business of offering high-value services to customers. As subscribers grow, as applications change and are adopted over time, pricing can change," said another spokeswoman. "New plans come into play all the time."

A word to all you Apple-loving Canucks: Don't hold your breath. Rogers also owns Fido, Canada's only other GSM carrier. Your unlocked iPhones will continue to cost you a pretty (Canadian) penny. ®

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