iPhone Officially Coming To Canada

Apple's exclusive deal with Rogers Communications is likely to put an end to unlocked models in the country.
Canadian fans of Apple's iPhone will no longer have to buy the phone in the United States and unlock it for Canadian use. Rogers Communications announced Tuesday that it will offer the phone to its subscribers later this year.

As the only Canadian mobile phone service provider using the GSM standard, Rogers was the logical supplier. However, with the Canadian government preparing to auction more spectrum later this year, an upstart supplier could have muscled into the market.

Ted Rogers, president and CEO of Rogers Communications, announced the deal with Apple in a very brief statement. "We're thrilled to announce that we have a deal with Apple to bring the iPhone to Canada later this year," he said. "We can't tell you any more about it right now, but stay tuned."

Rogers also reported first-quarter revenue of $2.4 billion and net income of $344 million. The company has a network of retail stores likely to be tailor-made for marketing the iPhone.

The iPhone could offer competition to Rogers' lineup of BlackBerry mobile phones. BlackBerry is produced by Research In Motion, another Canadian company not far from Rogers' Toronto headquarters. The iPhone and the BlackBerry are expected to battle for business accounts someday, but to date the e-mail-friendly BlackBerry has seemed virtually impregnable in enterprise accounts.

It is something of a mystery exactly why the iPhone hasn't been delivered in Canada. The phone was announced in the United States last June, followed by its availability in European countries. Typically, Apple requires an exclusive arrangement with a service provider. For instance, AT&T has the exclusive deal to offer the mobile phone in the United States. Canada's other two major cell phone providers -- Bell Mobility and Telus -- weren't considered to be likely providers of iPhones, because they don't use the GSM infrastructure.

The mobile phone industry is moving to a new generation of infrastructure that will offer vastly improved data and mobile-friendly video services. Some infrastructure services are expected to be unveiled before the end of the year. The crowning move is expected in 2010 when LTE networks begin to take hold.