Canada Competition Bureau

PC Mag Claims Canadian Wireless Costs Among the Highest in the World

September 23, 2014 - Written By Cory McNutt

Sascha Segan, lead telecom analyst at PC Mag, is looking into the state of the Canadian wireless service and although the Big Three – Rodger, Bell and Telus – are giving good service, it is among the highest prices in the world.  He said, “What you see compared to the U.S. is that your prices are competitive with our most expensive carriers.”  This follows on the heels of a report last Friday from Statistics Canada that telecom costs have risen 7.6-percent since this same time last year.  All of this is occurring even after Ottawa has continually tried to increase competition.

Segan made several observations, though none of them were any real revelation to those following the Canadian wireless business.  There are no carriers in Canada like a Sprint or T-Mobile, as we have here in the U.S.  He remarked, “We have a tranche of less-expensive nationwide carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile, that there is no comparison to in Canada.”  He added that North American prices are more expensive than wireless plans in Europe and that only Australian wireless plans are more expensive.  The ‘Sprints’ and ‘T-Mobiles’ in the U.S. offer true nationwide alternatives for subscribers to Verizon and AT&T.  Whereas in Canada, if you want true nationwide coverage you really need to stick with the Big Three, giving them more control and less incentive to reduce prices.

Segan is impressed with the regional carriers and believe that the only real hope for competition in Canada can come from them – Videotron in Quebec and Eastlink in Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland, as well as MTS in Manitoba and SaskTel in Saskatchewan.  Their fees are about $30 a month lower than the Big Three and while they give excellent service in their local regions, once outside that area, service coverage drops off considerably. He also noticed that while the Big Three offer high quality speeds and excellent coverage, that each one has a strength and a weakness and some unevenness from city-to-city…which is the same thing we experience in the U.S. with our major carriers.  The Rogers network is best for downloads, Bell is good for both downloads and uploads, while Telus just seemed slower overall from last year.

He said that most disappointing, was the failure to really create a new entrant into the mix and he summed it up by saying, “It looked to us that the attempt to create a fourth wireless competitor that the government started in 2008 has failed.”  Public Mobile is no longer a factor – Mobilicity is waiting for someone to put it out if its misery – WIND just cannot compete with LTE speeds according to PC Magazine’s tests in six cities. So for now, if you do not travel and stay around your region, you might choose a smaller, regional carrier to save up to $30 a month.  However, if you travel outside your region, you may have to go with one of the larger carriers and pay the extra money until Canada can get some real competition and possibly drive the prices down. Please hit us up on our Google+ Page and let us know what you think of the wireless situation in Canada…as always, we would love to hear from you.