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Canada Still Among Highest Mobile Wireless Prices Globally

Although lower-tier plans are decreasing in price, mobile data is increasingly unaffordable

December 13, 2017Canada still ranks among the top three most expensive countries for mobile wireless plans in an annual price comparison report released yesterday by the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED). The report, prepared by Nordicity, showed that out of six basket levels of service, Canada is the most expensive for mid-range and higher-tier plans, compared to the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Australia, Japan, and the United States.

While prices have declined somewhat for lower-tier plans, they are notably talk-and-text heavy, and offer limited data. In a world rocketing towards online connectivity, mobile wireless data is one of the most important resources for Canadians today. Looking at mobile wireless Internet, Canada was in the top two highest prices for every single plan level.

“It is unacceptable that Canadians continue to pay ever-rising prices year after year for something as critical as mobile communications services,” said Katy Anderson, Digital Rights Advocate at OpenMedia.

“We hope this is a wake-up call for ISED Minister Navdeep Bains and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission,” Anderson continued. “It was encouraging to see ISED recognize Canadians’ affordability struggle when it comes to mobile wireless prices, and ask the CRTC to reconsider mandating open access to independent wireless providers, but more needs to be done. Canadians simply can’t afford to keep paying the price for the lack of mobile competition.”

The report also confirmed what is already widely known, that prices are lower in provinces where there is a strong regional player to impose competitive discipline on the three national carriers – on average, 31% lower than the national average. Notably, Winnipeg has some of the highest prices, perhaps due to the recent loss of MTS to Bell Canada.

Over 8,000 Canadians signed onto OpenMedia’s intervention calling for WiFi-based MVNOs, in a recent CRTC proceeding instigated by ISED’s concerns for mobile wireless affordability.

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