Monday, February 12, 2007

Verizon finally quotes Canadian roaming rate as $2.05 per MB!

Verizon has finally conceded and started to quote their roaming rates as "$2.05 per MB." It seems that reason has finally worked its way into their silly little heads.

I'm not sure when this revision was posted. A google cache search only goes back as far as Feb 9, 2007, so no luck there. I do know that back during all the controversy I tried to find the rates online and couldn't find them anywhere. My suspicion back then was that all the materials were pulled pending a review of this situation.

At any rate, at least they finally acknowledge that the correct and clear way to quote is per MB, while of course they still mention the $.002/KB first... go figure.


Additional Plan Information
Required Minimum Term, Activation Fees, and Early Termination Fee
• One- or two-year minimum term required
• Activation Fees: $35, except $25 for $59.99 BroadbandAccess Plan
• Early Termination Fee: Up to $175 per line

NationalAccess roaming in Canada will be charged at a rate of $0.002 per kb or $2.05 per MB. For more information on roaming in Canada, visit


Aunt Nancy said...

This is really cool!

Nice work!

Paul said...

Hmm, it doesn't line up...
$0.002 per kb = 0.001600 cents per byte
$2.05 per MB = 0.000205 cents per byte
Where kb is kilobits, MB is megabytes, there are 1,000 bits in a kilobit, there are 1,000,000 bytes in a megabyte, and there are 8 bits in a byte.
See for an explanation in data units.
Maybe they meant to write it this way:
$0.002 per KiB = 0.0001953 cents per byte
$2.05 per MiB = 0.0001955 cents per byte
The above was rounded.
Even with that, if you use 0.0002 cents per byte, which is the most exact number that's the same for both originals being rounded, you still get $0.002 per KiB and $2.10 per MiB, rounded to the nearest penny.
Ugh, who knows what they'll charge you?

Andrew Taylor said...

Oh, come on, nobody in the world uses "kibibytes" or "mibibytes" and nor should they because they're bloody stupid units anyway. Using them would just confuse people, and using the (also bloody stupid) 1000-byte definition of "kilobyte" might even anger extremely tight-fisted people who assumed they were using the original, and far more sensible, 1024-byte definition.

Personally, I think the idiots who came up with the whole stupid "kibibyte" concept should be punished severely, and I applaud any company that stands up to them.

I don't see what authority they have over our language anyway. People say "kilobyte" and mean 1024 bytes by it and other people hear it and understand exactly what was meant, so it seems to be Verizon aren't being remotely confusing and you're just trying to be pedantic and find something to complain about after they finally get this whole silly mess sorted out.

George Vaccaro said...

I wonder if they are using the "$2.05 per MB" over the phone? Anyone want to try them out?

Jason said...

Brilliant stuff George.

A stroke of genius to record the call.

Craig said...

Actually, it looks like they are misquoting, as paul said. They are quoting kb (kilobits) as KB (kiloBytes). As well they are using the 1024 conversion from KB to MB.

so if we assume that they have always meant KB not kb, kiloBytes not kilobits. Although throughout phone conversations they were saying kilobits. And they quote at $0.002 /KB and using 1024 KB/MB we can finally get the charge they have quoted per MB.

As we can all see, there is a big problem with people not knowing units or how to do proper conversion, as illustrated by Verizon very well.

In summary: Verizon is charging $.002 /KB and using the conversion of 1024 KB/MB so they get $2.05 /MB rounded to the nearest penny.

.002 $/KB * 1024 KB/MB = 2.048 $/MB
Rounding = 2.05 $/MB or normal writing $2.05 /MB

Craig said...

Plus the fact that they use kb and MB should indicate an understanding the b and B are not the same.

Otherwise, why did they change from b to B? Most people who do not know units choose one way to print it either capitalized or not.

But as long as they use the $2.05 /MB then people should be fine.

Andrew Taylor said...

Craig, watch yourself: you're mostly right, but "KB" doesn't mean kilobytes. "kB" means kilobytes. "KB" means Kelvin-Bytes, which is a pretty useless unit.

Jan said...

A question since I am not from the US but Germany, and used to 0.002€ being 0.2 cents and €.002 being 0.002 cents. Does that work for the US too or do you always put the $ in the beginning? Would at least be much more simple and understandable that way.

@andrew: since kilo(k) and mega(M) indicates the decimal system and kibi(Ki) and mebi(Mi) the decimal one I would not really call it "bloody stupid units". Or do you want to buy your next falsely as 1 terabyte adverted harddrive and realize it actually only is 0.91 terabytes in your Windows(correctly 0.91 tibibytes, but we all know Microsoft is a little slow sometimes)?

Actually people do NOT understand exactly what is ment by kilobyte these days. Simple example: on CDs the binary system is used, on DVDs the decimal one. 4.7GB capacity sounds better than 4.38GiB doesn't it?

Get used to it soon and rather try to fight for the metric system to ease alot of calculation. Or is that "bloody stupid units" too?

Andrew Taylor said...

€.002 is 0.2 cents no matter where you live or where you put the unit.

And using decimal-based units to describe binary data is bloody stupid for the same reason that counting guitars in the spurious unit "decastrings" is bloody stupid: because you will, more often than not, end up with a really awkward number. Using binary-based units gives you a nice round number more often than not.

I agree that the decimal metric system is a marvellous tool for simplifying calculations, but only when it's used appropriately. Using it to describe binary data is clearly not appropriate.

A hammer is a wonderful tool for putting nails in wood, but you shouldn't use it for a screw. Sure, it'll work, but it's the wrong tool for the job and the consequences of that will emerge in the fullness of time, when rounding errors creep into your data calculations and your veranda falls down.

boka_do said...

Verizon dont know the difference between $ and ¢.
They quote in ¢ and charge in $.
$0.01 = 1¢

Hilary said...

You have an incredible amount of patience with what is clearly something that was, despite it's simplicity, far too complex for their tiny brains. I don't know how else you could have explained it. I personally find it hilarious that just because the explanation includes numbers, the woman wrote it all off as mathematics (mentioning that she just couldn't follow, not being "mathematician" herself"). Kudos to you for letting them know. You have made our morning.

- Hilary and Niko

The Fringe said...

Out of curiousity - were you compensated by Verizon in any way in exchange for listing their website and including "additional plan information"?

George Vaccaro said...

@everyone - thanks for the comments.

@hilary - I'm glad you found it amusing - this situation has been worth its weight in laughs for me.

@the fringe - of course not. I find it funny how cynical many people are on the web. If you read my blog I would think it would be clear that I couldn't be bought. This post was for everyone following the saga, to inform them that this little internet phenomenon - which included a huge amount of effort from individuals in the blogosphere (making calls, sending emails etc.) actually had an impact. Your voices were heard. Thank you everyone for your input and efforts.

The Fringe said...

Ah! I figured as much, I've been following this saga since it first went down and didn't think you the type, but it did seem somewhat suspect. Anywho - keep fighting the good fight and thanks for granting me a few belly laughs, this whole thing has been a hoot.

The Fringe said...

Oh, and I also find myself being very cynical in real life as well.

George Vaccaro said...

@the fringe - no problem, I understand - and don't be cynical! :)

Wacko said...

Some thoughts on the kilobyte data usage unit:

In the early 1990s wireless networks were purely analog based. "Wireless" phones were nothing more but 900mhz (or 1.2ghz) radio transmitters and receivers. Digital communications were non existent during that time.

As the years went by, packet-switched (X.25) was installing on the wireless network. X.25 switches used a modulation method known as "Frequency Shift Keying" or FSK.

So some form of "digital" communication was transmitting over the analog network. There were 'dedicated analog channels' that Packet-Switched data would flow over. Think of two-way pager networks.

It takes analog bandwidth to send packet-switched data over an analog network. For example, 1200bps or 1.2Kbps (bits per second) consumed a channel that is 15khz wide.

In the old days, the number of analog channels were limited, thus the packet switched data speeds were low - typically 1200bps (1.2Kbps) to 9600bps (9.6kbps) again, bits per second. For bytes, divide by 8.

What data was passed on a packet switched network at a typical 1.2kbps service? again, two-way pages, text-based commands to linked communication equipment were common. And don't forget about the beginnings of wireless based email.

These messages were very small, containing a few hundred bytes. Nothing fancy, a numeric address to send back a reply.

Thus, in the beginning, "data service plans" typically were offered as 500kilobytes, 1000kilobytes or 2000kilobytes. Each level of service would cost a few (whole) cents down to maybe a cent and a half.

Wireless, analog data service was very expensive. Now that the networks have replaced analog equipment with the digital equipment today, the different modulation methods (CMDA, etc), the available bandwidth on these systems is quite high.

Most of today's cellular service is operating on the 2.4ghz band and its available channels runs into 10-20mhz or more per dedicated channel. Compare this bandwidth as above with the old analog networks.

So now, data communications are cheaper today. As people eluded to in the posts, you can download whole MP3s at about 3megs (3072kilobytes) each.

To wrap the post up, I think the reason why people still quote in kilobytes is because that has been the standard in the beginning. As we know now, kilobytes are too small of a unit for today's multimedia demands.

How did I crank out this much information? I've worked as a ham radio operator for fifteen years were we introduced packet-switched networks that were of low data rates (1.2kbps and 9.6kbps respectfully).

Payback said...

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