updated 02:15 pm EDT, Wed March 18, 2009
Rogers HUP Now Two Years
A Rogers internal notice obtained today by BGR suggests that existing iPhone owners may be asked to pay full price to upgrade for a likely hardware replacement this year. The Canadian cellular provider's memo notes that the period before a smartphone subscriber qualifies for the Hardware Upgrade Plan (HUP), or a discounted phone replacement, has been doubled from one to two years as of Tuesday. Only users of regular phones upgrading to smartphones are allowed to upgrade in an earlier timeframe.
The company argues that the move is necessary to continue subsidizing phones while still adding new phones to its catalog in a "fair timeframe." However, it adds that the surprise extension also affects existing customers who might have qualified for an upgrade before March 17th and hadn't yet traded up to a newer device.
Unofficially, the move is believed part of a panic reaction by Rogers executives to a sudden $30 million shortfall created by acquisition costs. The attempt to quickly compensate for those expenses has also raised BlackBerry prices at the carrier by as much as $50, even for the year-old BlackBerry Curve 8300 series.
Whether or not the extension will specifically affect iPhone owners isn't clear. Although it officially prevents many of those who bought an iPhone 3G on launch from getting a discounted device until July 2010 at the earliest, AT&T and other carriers that have had iPhones for more than one year have previously waived their usual policies on upgrades for those trading up to new iPhones. Rogers itself allowed customers to upgrade early without boosting the iPhone's price but hasn't said what its policy would be for future updates.