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Rogers Abandoning Portable Internet Service: Internet Overcharging 3G in Rural Canada’s Future

Phillip Dampier December 14, 2011 Canada, Consumer News, Internet Overcharging, Rogers, Rural Broadband, Wireless Broadband 33 Comments

Rogers Communications has mailed letters to rural Canadians announcing it will cease operation of its Portable Internet wireless broadband service effective March 1, 2012.

The service, which uses the Inukshuk Wireless network, delivers Internet access to over 150 communities across mostly rural-northern Canada, where DSL and cable broadband is simply unavailable.  Customers were paying $45 a month for up to 3Mbps service with a 30GB usage cap.

Rogers’ decision will now force most of those customers to use the company’s far more expensive 3G wireless network, which runs far slower and has substantially lower usage allowances.  How much more expensive?  Rogers’ 3G customers choosing the company’s 3G Flex data plan will pay between $94-104 a month (depending on speed), for a plan with a 15GB usage allowance.  Overlimit fees run $10/GB. Customers using 20GB on Rogers’ 3G Flex will pay the company $144-154 a month for slower service.

“The price disparity is absolutely enormous,” says Stop the Cap! reader Ted who uses Rogers Portable Internet service in Val Caron, Ont., located north of Sudbury.  “You might as well not bother using the Internet at all at these prices.”

Ted says Rogers Portable Internet was never a perfect solution, but it was priced similarly to what larger city residents pay for broadband.

“It’s not really WiMax, which came after Rogers introduced the service, and the speeds and ping times can be appalling if you don’t have good reception, but it was affordable,” Ted says.  “Using 3G service means even slower speeds and lower caps at double the price, which is typical for Rogers.”

Ted points out the 30GB one receives on the Portable Internet service for $45 would correspond to a bill for $25o on 3G — five times the price for worse service.

“I am talking to my wife about buying the Rocket Hub [Roger's device for mobile broadband] so we have something, because Bell has told us not to expect DSL anytime soon,” Ted notes. “Rural Canada cannot catch a break.”

The other option rural Canadians have is satellite Internet access, but providers like Xplornet have faced withering criticism from customers for poor speeds, network speed throttling, and usage caps.

Currently there are 33 comments on this Article:

  1. Rogers_Chris says:

    Hi, this is Chris at Rogers. I wanted to clear up a few misconceptions brought up in this post about our wireless internet offerings.

    Portable Internet has been a good solution for customers who have historically not had access to high speed connectivity. Now there are better solutions available.

    Rogers is committed to doing what’s best for customers and intends to offer the smoothest transition possible. We are offering our customers a replacement service – either a free Rocket Hub or Rogers Hi-Speed Internet where available. The cost of the replacement service will depend the plan the customer selects.

    The replacement services will offer the following benefits to customers:
    • Speed increase: The speed of the Rocket Hub will be significantly faster than the current product – up to 7.2 Mbps or up to 21 Mbps depending on your choice of plan vs. 3 Mbps
    • Free Hardware: Migration to the Rocket Hub will include free hardware valued at $149.99 with a two year commitment
    • Wireless connectivity for up to 15 devices at once
    • Flexibility to use the hub anywhere in Canada on the Rogers wireless network
    • Voice services: The Rocket Hub offers voice service as well, at potentially lower rates than what customers are currently paying

    We encourage customers who have questions about their portable internet service to give us a call.

    Cheers,
    @Rogers_Chris

    • Alex Perrier says:

      Chris,

      Here are my remarks regarding each and every “point” you made:

      —–

      i’ve tested the “Turbo Hub” plan in rural regions, using the Bell/Telus network. i’ve obtained speeds of up to 3.2 Mbit/s, despite them advertising up to 21.1 Mbit/s. The max i have ever obtained was 12 Mbit/s, in an urban mall. When i am home, speeds are no faster than 4 Mbit/s. Based on Stop The Cap!’s feedback, Inukshuk has a more reliable network than Rogers 3G/3G+/”4G”. So theoretical maximum speeds don’t mean a thing.

      Free hardware obviously requires a fixed term contract, which can be annoying and/or undesirable. What if you don’t use the Internet for one month? What if you don’t like the service? If Rogers can give up to $300 gift cards with its Rocket stick, it should give Inukshuk customers an equivalent rebate, if not more. They already paid for, or at the very least were subsidized, an Inukshuk modem. If they can’t use it, replace it with one they can.

      15 devices? Who would use that with only a 15 GB cap!? 1 GB per device isn’t a lot!

      The Rogers network isn’t available “anywhere in Canada”. Speeds vary. They’re sometimes slow like dial-up.

      Voice services are affordable, i’ll admit, but they come at a huge cost: a much inferior Internet plan.

      —–

      What’s clear is that paying $94 or more for a 3G, 3G+ or so-called “4G” plan with only hard 15 GB of allowance is a ripoff compared to paying less thaf that price for Inukshuk with a soft 30 GB cap, or an even lower price than that for a legacy Lite plan with a soft 10 GB cap. The difference between “soft” and “hard” is tremendous. With the “soft” Inukshuk caps, “Rogers does not currently charge ADSL or Portable customers who exceed them.” They were simply there to protect against abuse. But Rogers’ new “hard” caps for its 3G service means that customers who use more than they are entitled to will DEFINITIVELY be charged. How do i know? Because that’s what Rogers’ website says, and as a Smart hub customer, i received Usage-Based Billing.

      This is just bad for customers. Those who watch video or take part in videoconference cannot do so anymore without worrying about their allowance. With only one-tenth of the original allowance, that is a tremendous limbo game. Customers must pay Rogers if they go over 3 GB, and that is simply unfair and gouging.

      Sincerely,
      Alex Perrier

    • DAVE says:

      WOW THIS IS HIGHWAY ROBBERY.

      NO WONDER WHY THEY CALL ROGERS “ROBERS”.

      FIX YOUR GOUGING FEES ROGERS. YOU MAKE EVERYONE EMBARRASSED OF BEING CANADIAN.

      I SUGGEST ANYONE THAT WAS SCREWED OVER BY ROGERS’ DECISION TO DISCONTINUE AFFORDABLE INTERNET TO GO WITH ANOTHER COMPANY INSTEAD.

      RIGHT NOW I’M PAYING $60 PER MONTH FOR 80GB AND FASTER SPEEDS THAN ROGERS. THEY INSTALLED THE RADIO DISH AND EVERYTHING FOR ME.

      JUST GOOGLE: WIRELESS INTERNET

      YOU DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE ROGERS OR BELL. THEY HAVE POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE, STEAL YOUR MONEY, AND DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU AS A CUSTOMER.

      • Alex Perrier says:

        EASY ON THE CAPS MAN!

        Just teasing you a bit. :) Anyway, i’m planning to leave Bell soon. They failed to honour the free PVR rent-to-own for three years, despite me wasting a lot of my time and calling them a lot. Enough with constantly giving them chances and them taking advantage of customers. Time for me to support an independent ISP!

    • Jon says:

      “Now there are better solutions available.”

      Better? How? Slightly faster and much, much more expensive?

  2. Paul says:

    My father has relied on Rogers Portable Internet Service which has been very reliable and a perfect solution for him for many years.

    He paid over $500 to buy and install the exterior Motorola modem on a tower. He enjoys a 80-100% signal strength using the service in his rural location in Southern Ontario.

    I, his son, have a rocket stick as well as a Rogers cell phone, both of which drop service or reach no better than 2 bars when I visit, which means lucky to achieve 3Mbit/s on a good day, at much greater cost – and certainly a huge step backwards for him…at higher costs.

    I have advised him that the rocket hub is not an option, DSL isn’t available either (or the cable internet service obviously).

    The rocket stick/hub would maintain some intermittent service, but he’s made the decision to not continue with any provider and go offline.

    I am disappointed with the decision of the carrier to abandon this stable critical service to rural customers and the insulting offer of a free (and in this case near useless) rocket hub with a 24 month term, it’s a non-offer and insulting to me.

    • Jon says:

      Wow, this is sad. I’m sorry to hear that a major company is restricting your fathers’ access to affordable internet and stifling innovation in Canada. This is truly an evil tactic.

      I’d love to publish an article with your story and create awareness. We get syndicated with over 40 news sites.

      My email: jon [at] thoroldnews.ca

  3. Raymond says:

    Rogers have made a bad decision. They obviously found it necessary to cancel the rural service so they could charge more.

    Further you don’t get any email addresses with this service to my knowledge, you have to have a gmail or yahoo or hot mail address.

    This service is very expensive and the signal less than satisfactory.

    I got my hub at Rogers store, set it up. The signal was on and off, so I went and got the additional antennae to no avail. The following day I packed up the equipment and took it all back.

    Bell is doing the same thing, same pricing etc. $$$.

    Where is the CRTC on allowing such a ridiculous price increase and denial of service.

    I don’t know what I am going to do, but there are a lot of people apparently in the same boat.

    People really need to send a message to management at Rogers, they are sacrificing customers for profit..

    Raymond
    Caledon, ON

    • STEVE says:

      GUYS! THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES!

      I’m in Niagara, and I found these guys:
      http://www.lastmilenet.ca/pricing.html

      They don’t have usage caps. And I bet they’re faster than over-subscribed Rogers.

      If you don’t live in Niagara, just search Google for “Wireless Internet” in your city. You don’t have to put up with Bell/Rogers price gouging.

  4. Mark says:

    After receiving my notice of cancellation after being a happy customer with Rogers Portable internet for 7 years, I am left with a decision says Rogers customer service representative. It’s purely my decision – Migrate to the new plan and pay approximately 400% per month ( based on their estimates of my usage ) or cancel my service.

    How can any company expect their customer based to see an increase of 400%!!!!!!!!!!

    All I can say is – GOOD BYE ROGERS!!!!

    Others beware. No one needs to deal with corporations that treat their customers like this.

    Oh by the way, GOOD BYE to my cell coverage as well.

    Rest assured the conversation this Christmas with my friends will be how happy I am with my decision!

    Good news travels fast. Bad news travels quicker and wider…

    Mark
    Kawartha Lakes, Ont

  5. Kevin says:

    I have read all the comments and the comments strengthen my feelings on the abandonment of the Portable Internet as a profit for customers deal.
    I am a urban user and have been using portable internet for 6 years on and off. I just signed back up again because I am in a downtown office that rigorously refuses to allow us to use the work internet for anything but work. So I use my Portable Internet to listen to streaming music or listen to documentaries or just surf at lunch for a good buy. I pay for it, so I can use it. My IT personnel even condones it as a good thing BECAUSE of the abuse on their internet. I am angered by Rogers for the huge increase in price and much lower data cap. I agree with Alex, with my current usage (an I am not a gamer or movie downloader etc) my internet will cost me well over $200. Could you imagine if the gas companies, utility companies or Walmart, suddenly said “You’re going to get 1/10th the product you got yesterday because we felt like it”…UM ya, you would drop that service immediately, much like I am going to do with Rogers. Oh, and don’t get me started on their terrible service…

  6. Chris says:

    @Rogers_Chris. The issue is not the up-front cost for the internet hub modem. I have done that and am pleased with the speed and connectivity. I am not happy, however, with the bill I receive at the end of the month. I am in a situation where I cannot obtain high-speed internet access any other way than by using a cell modem, ie. 3G internet hub. I believe, other users correct me if I am wrong, that Rogers offers the best cell data prices for internet usage out of the big 3 telecoms, but only by a very tiny margin. What i don’t understand is why you guys don’t really start opening distance between you guys and the other two? I think that what the big telecoms are doing right now is collusion. I live 15 minutes from Vaughn yet the only way that i can get access to the web at a reasonable speed is to pay a rate, that in any other industry would be considered price gouging. If your company really wants more customers and to grow its business why not get rid of the ridiculous fees and charge 60 dollars for an unlimited download plan?

  7. Lorna says:

    Hi There
    We also received our notice that service would be cancelled.
    We live near Lake Rosseau and have no DSL or cable service available. We have used this PIS for many years and it is the only solution available to us. We also have a Rocket Hub we use when we travel or go to another location. Here at home our Rocket Hub only receives one to one and half bars of service strength. Not a solution for us.
    We have spent hours on the phone with Rogers – going around in circles, and basically to get the service we have now – off the same tower will require a payment of $190.00 per month ++. We also had to install a tower to the roof just to recieve the signal for the PIS. We were told if we install a directional antenna to the rocket hub it will recieve a signal.
    How can this be realistic? In town the internet service for 160 gig per month would cost about 35-40 dollars. For us 25 gig is going to cost us 190 dollars.
    I really do not want to sell my house and move to have access to the internet. Dial up is not an option as we would not even be able to download emails in full as the phone lines are sketchy at best.
    Spoke to Bell and they have the same rocket hub with no caps so the service of 25 gigs would be 250 dollars plus 1.5 cents per extra megabyte. (in our case with our estimated usage would cost us about 775 dollars per month. That is crazy!
    So looking for suggestions.
    Would love to participate in a group that wants to voice our objection to isolating the rural areas in this manner. What happened to the expenditures on infrastructure to help the rural citizens to recieve internet access? Why crush something that is working and providing us with a feasible internet option?

    • Your only option may be the one I always shudder at recommending — satellite Internet. I shudder because it’s always slower than they promise, is capped, and means still more equipment.

      It appears Inukshuk is being shut down nationwide and presumably the towers will form the basis for the 4G network Rogers is telling us all about.

      But while speeds may improve, it’s another step backwards because usage caps are more stringent and the costs are higher. It’s like buying a souped-up Jaguar they won’t let you back out of the driveway. Speeds don’t matter much when you can’t use/afford the service.

      The Canadian government needs to get more involved in this issue and develop a subsidy system that encourages investment in rural broadband and defrays the cost of it for ordinary consumers, especially those already trying to scrape by. Let’s face it, Bell and Telus have no interest in further pushing out DSL, and cable companies want nothing to do with rural areas.

  8. Chris says:

    @Lorna,

    I agree with your comments wholeheartedly. I think that areas where the big 3 don’t reach by fibre, DSL, or whatever, but have cell 3g available should be mandated to offer a realistic competitive plan with similar usage allowances that urban users are given. If my memory serves me correctly, when I signed up for Rocket hub usage, nearly two years ago, the 10gig limit for 60 dollars was in place, but anything over 10gigs was to be charged at 5 dollars a gig. Now the same plan being offered allows for the same 10gigs for 60 dollars but each extra gig is 10 dollars.

    Essentially what we have in Canada, in Ontario at least, is an oligopoly in which the major players are colluding with one another to keep their margins huge and the market substandard. If you don’t invest in your infrastructure even within the GTA, but can still manage to charge customers 120 bucks for substandard service the minute you go North of Vaughn, where you don’t need to upgrade or worry about new market entrants, you have yourself a money printing machine. Revenue – Cost of goods sold(services) = Gross Margin. In Ontario the Telco’s have Revenue – 0= Gross Margin. No wonder the big three keep their prices suspiciously similar, there is no percentage in competing and driving costs down since the threat of competition doesn’t really exist. In turn, they figured out that it is more profitable to agree to keep prices high than to try to beat out the competition. Would you rather make 100% profit serving one customer or 10% profit serving 10?

    Even the fact that Lorna mentions moving as a result of not having adequate service makes it clear to me, and I hope others, that this is now an essential service. Essential services are not luxuries which can be marked up 1000% because no one really needs them. Could you imagine Oil at $30 000 dollars a barrel? I am not a lawyer, but if someone reading this has knowledge of the law could you please tell me, is this even legal?

    Thanks for your time.

  9. gary says:

    BLA BLA BLA bottom line is that all portable users are getting screwed over, what is the solution besides paying hundreds more for the same service, anyone know of other providers who can still compete with portable for rural customers??

    • blaine says:

      Bell portable is available in some areas for 49.95/m I am in simcoe county and I will be moving to bell and saying bye to rogers very soon. The 22.95/m will not stream movies so go bigger if you can get the bell portable

      Portable 3 Mbps

      Surf at high speed while on the go.

      Get online in 3 easy steps – no software to install
      Experience speeds up to 53x faster than dial-up1.
      Download, send and receive large files, stream videos, music and more – on the go.

      Available in the following regions:
      Simcoe County
      South Glengarry
      Laurentian Valley
      Middlesex County
      Bruce County
      Dufferin County
      Dawn-Euphemia Township

  10. Gadjo says:

    Canada is one of the worst place in the world for quality internet services, and it’s just getting worse.

    Any other company that offers Wimax? Is the technology dead as it is? Why change technology if one is less efficient and more costly than the previous? Why trying to
    turn home computers into cellphones/intelliphones (“moneyyyyy” says the devil).

    For me, it will be easy to just transfer to a DSL service. But I liked Wimax for its portability, and the fact that it was “real internet”, not the “phone” internet where you pay incredible fees for little usage.

    At this point Canada needs more competition: these services are screwed because the
    companies think they can get away with anything.

  11. blaine says:

    bell canada

    Portable 3 Mbps

    Surf at high speed while on the go.

    Get online in 3 easy steps – no software to install
    Experience speeds up to 53x faster than dial-up1.
    Download, send and receive large files, stream videos, music and more – on the go.

    Available in the following regions:
    Simcoe County
    South Glengarry
    Laurentian Valley
    Middlesex County
    Bruce County
    Dufferin County
    Dawn-Euphemia Township

  12. christian says:

    @Blaine, just chatted with a customer rep on the bell site, they said that the service was discontinued. I need to check in further by actually calling bell but it appears to me that they have just not taken it off the website yet.

    • blaine says:

      I talked with bell and if you are in those area’s you can still get it, they are under contract with simcoe county (because they help pay for the towers) for the next 2 yrs. Not sure about other areas but that is what I was told so I am moving to bell canada

  13. John Adams says:

    I agree with all of the comments except for the obvious BS from Rogers_Chris. It is amazing how big companies pretend it is for our benefit that they get to rake in huge profits. I wonder if Chris believes his own spiel. This is a huge rip off. I am planning on switching to Bell as well. The biggest problem is the big companies are all the same. You end up trying to figure out which gives the best poor service. At the moment it seems to be Bell for this service anyway.

  14. Bob says:

    I spoke to Bell today. Was told they no longer sell wireless service to my location (rural Caledon) and they offer NO alternative, not even dialup since the line quality is so poor and I am at the far end of the line from the Central Office. I also spoke to some nitwit at the CRTC who said they have nothing to do with internet service because “it’s not an essential service (like radio and TV ARE essential?) Rogers just says if I don’t like their offer with 2-year contract and/or the hub doesn’t live up to their claims within the 15 day trial period I can just get lost -again no alternative. Infuriating that they can get away with this degradation of service from 30gb ‘soft cap’ to 3gb hard cap with impunity. Can anyone say ‘class action’? Know any lawyers interested?

    • Lorna says:

      It just keeps getting more ridiculous. Now Rogers customer relations and support see my name in caller ID and just hang up.
      Ok – I am totally on board for your suggestion of “class action”
      Lorna

  15. Mr lucky says:

    Well I got a shock today when I called Bell to see if I had DSL in my area yet with no again, but also got told to my surprise that my Bell Portable would be ending in March. I thought it was only for Rogers but Bell too is abandoning this service. Luckily for me my county is 1 of the 6 that paid to keep this service available to its customers and til 2015. I also found out today they cant measure your usage amount which I figured because I was positive I was using at least 60GB a month which would cost me $480 with the new 3G bologna now if only that DSL that my neighbour 500 m away has can make it hear by 2015. Im curious though is Rogers in contract to keep there services running in these counties or is it opening up more bandwidth? Im sure Rogers wont tell there customers that Bell is still operating in the region and I believe Bell wont take new customers anymore.

    P.S People that are calling this wi-max is incorrect wi-max is a much more reliable, efficent service then this. I believe that Xplornet is using Wi-Max technology with there new towers and are experimenting with an advanced wi-max 2. That has amazing range and incredible speeds 100mbs per fixed unit customer (non mobile) that’s LTE compatible. And would put shame to Rogers current LTE sysyems but its not even out on the market til 2013 and unless theres competition I wouldnt want to imagine the rates. But anybody looking for true FTTH unlike Bell FTTN go to wightman.ca

  16. BT says:

    Rogers has a retention plan for users of their portable internet service which is a pretty good deal. Now they need to make this available to all of their current Rocket Hub customers. We switched to the Rocket Hub a year ago and as a result it is not available for us or apparently other current Rocket Hub users.

    PIS Migration Offer Ref: RETSRA057

    Level 1 plan: $45/month 10GB
    Level 2 plan: $60/month 30GB

    Must sign up for the 2 year plan, free rocket hub.

    ($10/GB overage still applies with max $100 a month overage)

    You have reached our Online Management Support Team.

    I understand how this can be frustrating to you. If you choose to switch to the Rocket Hub, I am willing to offer the following price plan:

    Flex Rate Data Plan:
    Level 1 – $45 (up to 10GB)

    Level 2 – $60 (up to 30 GB)

    (Overage: $10 per additional GB up to a cap of $100)

    Government Regulatory Recovery Fee (GRRF) applies as well

    The requirement for the price plan above for Rocket Hub is a 2 year term.

    If you accept the above offer for the Rocket Hub, I suggest purchasing the Rocket Hub at a local Rogers’ store near you and once you activate the device, reply to this email and I will change your price plan to the above. I have provided you with a link to find a store near you: http://www.rogers.com/storelocator.

    Thank you for sharing your concern with us.

    Regards,
    Nathalie G.
    Online Management Support Team
    http://www.rogers.com

    • Kevin says:

      Hey BT, Put a sock in it. Bottom line, your company is making more money and traded us loyal customers for cash. Your help is crap. Continue to “promote” your crap elsewhere. I am done with Rogers. No money from me. How is that helping your companies bottom line?

    • Deborah says:

      BT please note you are miss informed, I am in the same boat as everyone here and was told that also had a cap of $160 per month.
      As of August this year the cap has been removed and now be charged full amount. Our average usage was around 90gb per month, August we used 86gb charged $560 for the Internet. Contacted CRTC they cannot do anything completely useless ministry.
      Contacted my Caledon MPP waiting for a reply. Now considering legal action against Rogers.

  17. Blaine says:

    Kevin I am now with Bell portable and Rogers has no money from me, Bell portable is going to last untill 2015 and then it to will be turned off but it is still better than Rogers. So BOTTOM LINE it is what it is and and money comes before loyal customers. I have freinds and family that went to the rocket hub for the portable and rogers sent them all a bill for 149.00 plus tax for the hub. Good plan they had to call and talk to rogers to get the bill changed nice way to be treated by a company. O well bye Rogers!!! THEY DO NOT CARE

  18. chris says:

    @BT I just quoted Rogers your reference code and plan , and they switched me to the plan with not issues. I did have to however sign up for two years again, at least i think. Anyways it was worth the call.

    Thanks again.

  19. Malle says:

    To add further insult to injury, when I looked at my February Rogers bill I was charged for Portable Internet service until March 23, despite the fact that Rogers cancelled this service as of March 1. When I queried they said they billed one month ahead and therefore would credit my next account. Everyone should check their statements because do I trust Rogers to be honest…no. Also, since they were the ones who selected the date you would think they might have worked within their systems so customers are not overcharged.

    Oh wait, no, that would be a company that cared about their customer experience.

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