Starting October 15, Montreal-based Microcell Telecommunications Inc. will launch the first national GPRS product in Canada.
It ‘s going to mean a significant jump in data transfer rates of up to 56 kbps – approximately six times as fast as current, poky WAP throughput. And it’s going to be a fast leap in the billing paradigm. Microcell will start selling its GPRS technology by the volume consumed and not flat-rate pricing. What remains to be seen is how willingly Canadian users will pay for a packet?
“Setting a rate plan for a carrier can be seen as the most simple or complex task known to mankind. But we’re convinced that selling by megabyte for data transmissions is the model that’s going to evolve over time,” says Alex Brisbourne, vice-president and general manager of business development for Microcell Connections.
Operating under the Fido brand, Microcell will charge subscribers for its cheapest GPRS data-only plan $25 (all figures in Canadian dollars) for the first 2 Mb and then $10 per additional Mb. Three other plans will be offered, with the most expensive plan at $150 for the first 100 Mb and $1.50 for each additional Mb. Subscribers with WAP phones will be charged 5 cents per Kb. At first, Microcell will sell a Motorola GPRS terminal at $500. Other GPRS phones will be introduced on availability.
Brisbourne says Microcell examined pricing models for GPRS in Europe and did extensive market research in Canada before going with the pay-per-megabit gambit. The carrier expects to gain market share by being an early mover in the GPRS field.