News and views on the Canadian telecom industry, and tips and tricks for saving on your cell phone bill.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chat-R Wireless, One Small Step for Rogers, One Giant Leap Backwards for Telecom

Chat-R Wireless, which launched in the Summer of 2010 is a discount carrier owned and operated by Rogers. They piggy back off of their parent company's network and share a lot of the same infrastructure. Not surprisingly your Chatr bill looks a lot like a Rogers bill in actual layout and printing format.

Chat-R wireless is in essence just Rogers wireless in a bad costume. Its the rich kid no one likes trying to slum it a little by putting away the designer clothes for a day thinking no one will notice. Make no mistake though, no one wants to be friends with the rich kid trying to slum it out.

What I mean by this of course is that there is something that doesn't sit well with us Telecom observers when a major player which has been notorious for overcharging makes a move like this. (see Grif's Vantage point for more on Rogers' overcharging)

It stems from the spectrum bidding back in 2007 when Wind, Public and Mobilicity all entered the game. We'll call them the Small 3. The Small 3 saw the potential for undercutting the big guys by simple pricing and unlimited plans. Their drawback? Small 'zones' because of few cell towers.

What this means is that although you have an "unlimited plan" while in range of the tower of your provider (be it Wind, Mobilicity or Public), once you leave that range or 'home zone' you begin paying an overage for piggy backing off of another network. The Small 3 all have arrangements from the Big 3 (Rogers, Telus and Bell) to use their networks when the Small 3's customers are out of range.

Now, this is all well and good for a business model of a start up. Great pricing, but with a functionality cost.

Now, Rogers puts out Chat-R to compete directly with these start ups. Remember that Rogers' inconsistent and confusing pricing is the reason for these companies starting up.


Rogers: National network, confusing pricing

Small 3: Small Home Zone Network, simple pricing, need to piggy back off of Big 3 when out of home zone

Chat-R: Owned by Rogers, Simple Pricing, Uses Rogers' Towers. Has predefined home zones...

Wait, what was that last part?

That's right, Chat-R despite being owned by Rogers' has predefined home zones. How these towers differ to warrant the increase in charge.

The ChatR Southern Ontario Coverage

Anything in Orange is the ChatR network where your unlimited plan will work. Anything in Purple is the "No Worries" Network.

Make no mistake, you should worry. We should all be worried when Coca-Cola makes an effort to take out Susie selling lemonade.

Rogers has once again outdone themselves in confusing pricing. Determining home zones based on nothing more than just what the other Small 3 were doing is ludicrous. The impetus for this isn't to be a good corporation, nor is it to save their customers money. Its jumping ship rather than trying to fix what's so broken.

When Rogers puts out Chat'R plans through Rogers without No Worries networks, then we as Canadians have won.

For what its worth, MobileVantage can get you a ChatR plan through Rogers with no home zones...

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