While shopping for a new cellphone, it has come to my attention once again that I am living far outside the bounds of modern civilization.
Do you know what it cost to get data out of the interweb and into a cellphone here in Canada? Four cents per kilobyte. Which is to say, forty dollars a megabyte, or approximately two hundred dollars for a moderately-sized MP3.
Two hundred fucking dollars.
That’s your base rate, if you don’t have a data plan. Data plans start at $25 for half a megabyte, with additional megabytes costing thirty dollars each. And all of that is only available in addition to your normal voice plan.
Which is to say, if you download about one mp3 every month, it’s actually cheaper to get an American data plan and pay the roaming fees. Not just a little cheaper, either; vastly cheaper. Rogers claims that 1 megabyte is “approximately 500 to 1,000 e-mails per month”, which I think we sane people can all agree is both a lie on its face and disingenuously overlooks the fact that it is also “one largish picture”, “half a moderately-sized PDF”, “a fifth of a song”, “a thirtieth of a small movie trailer” and “one half of one percent of a large movie trailer.
And, if you want to upload that memory stick full of photos you just finished shooting? Backing up your 256mb CF card over this system will cost you about eight thousand dollars.
Did I mention that there’s no such thing as an unlimited data plan, here?
What I want, what I’ve wanted for a long time, is laptop to cell via bluetooth, cellphone to world via whatever juju puts bits through cellphones, and to be able to check my mail and browse the web a bit without fearing for my wallet if a friend sends me an mp3 as an attachment or I suddenly get the urge to watch a movie trailer; I’m not talking about leaving my bittorrent client running overnight, I’m talking about a terminal and a web browser. And, if I was virtually anywhere else in the world I could do that trivially, for something in the ballpark of forty dollars a month.
But not here. Because here, it’s a “business” thing, which I’m pretty sure means some asshole in a suit has decided that the only people who’d be interested in that sort of thing are other assholes in suits.
If you, dearest audience, happen to be living in one of these digital utopias, perhaps one of my friends withing spitting distance of Akihabara, rest assured that I both don’t want to hear it, and also want you to send me a new cellphone. So, you know, don’t think I love you any less, but seriously, just shut up. And also send me new toys. Also seriously.
On the other hand, if you’re one of the people who actually makes decisions about which services actually get sold in this country, I’m going to need you to take a good hard look at the uptake of these services, which I’d confidently wager is as close to zero as makes no difference, and change your minds. You are clearly in the wrong.