CRTC report finds wireless and internet prices among highest in comparison to seven peer countries.
Telecom Pricing Olympics:
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A new pricing comparison study on Canada’s telecommunications market shows, to no one’s surprise, that the country is on the high side with those services that matter most.
The report, prepared by consultancy Nordicity on behalf of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, shows that wireless and internet prices in Canada are high when compared against seven other peer countries.
Entry-level smartphone plans that include at least one gigabyte of data, for example, cost about $74.67 in Canada. Only Japan is higher, at $89.72. A similar plan in the United Kingdom is much cheaper, costing only $30.13.
Canada is also the most expensive country among those compared for lower-level talk-and-text plans, at $41.08. The country places second in all three higher-tier smartphone plans:
Canada also ranks poorly on the internet side, coming in the more expensive half of the eight countries in lower-speed plans. With higher-speed offerings – those over 41 megabits per second – the country’s performance is worse, ranking second. Only the United States has more expensive super-fast plans:
How such results are to be interpreted depends on who’s doing the interpreting. Bell points out that Canada fares well against the United States – the most comparable market – when it comes to higher-tier wireless and internet plans.
“It’s worth noting the [report’s] authors’ own caveat that they don’t take into account average data usage per mobile user or average network speeds, on both of which Canada comes out well ahead of the European countries in the study,” says Bell spokesperson Jason Laszlo.
“[Those are] pretty important factors when you consider the scale and investments associated with the geographic size of our networks relative to European countries.”
Consumer advocates, on the other hand, see the report’s findings as more proof that regulators and government need to step in to curb runaway telecom prices.
“If this were the Telecom Olympics, Canada would be medaling often in the highest price, biggest restrictions, competitions,” says Geoff White, counsel with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.
“The CRTC hopefully will consider this as it makes its decision on whether or not to mandate universal affordable broadband, and take into account the role [usage] caps are playing in terms of limiting Canadians.”