Is it possible

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 UlethClimbing -
do you need the internet to have the iphone?

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No you don't.

When the iPhone first came out in the USA it wasn't available in Canada, because the phone companies didn't yet support the data streaming that the iPhone is capable of. However, some people still bought the phone in the US and were able to unlock it and use it on the Rogers network in Canada. It still functioned as a normal phone, but you couldn't browse the internet over the network.

Today I think it would depend where you got the iPhone. Some phone companies that sell the phone require that you have a data plan in order to use it on their network. You're going to have to shop around and find a service provider that will give you the phone without a data plan, which means you may have to end up paying the full price for one.