A new study commissioned by the CRTC confirms that the Big Three -- Rogers, Telus, and Bell -- are offering Canadians far less bang for their buck than new independent providers when it comes to mobile phone and Internet service.
Sadly, the report confirms that Canadians still pay some of the highest prices for wireless service in the industrialized world. Canada continues to lag behind its global counterparts, especially when compared with European nations. The silver lining on this familiar cloud is the impact that new independent providers like Wind and Mobilicity are having. As the report points out, overall, new independent providers in Canada are hugely outperforming Big Telecom on a number of key metrics.
The study showed that prices were up to 49 per cent lower for new independent providers than Big Telecom (depending on the service level), and that indie providers often have greater allowances for data. In terms of roaming rates, indie providers in Canada offered far lower rates than Big Telecom -- who have recently been revealed to be charging rates that are marked up by nearly 50,000 per cent.
Shockingly, Canadian subscribers are paying nearly 150 per cent more for calls and texts while roaming in the U.S. than American subscribers are paying to roam in Canada. And prices for basic wireless service without data increased 16 per cent since last year, which will particularly impact low-income Canadians who rely on these plans.
Overall, the report confirms that independent providers are having a positive impact in helping to lower prices for Canadians. It conclusively backs up what the OpenMedia community has been urging for some time -- ensuring Canadians have indie alternatives to the Big Three is the only cost-effective way forward for Internet and mobile phone users.
Despite Industry Minister James Moore’s claims that choice and affordability are improving in our wireless market, data (wireless Internet) is what more and more Canadians want; yet prices for plans with data are still far more expensive than for plans without. Without question, this is holding back innovation in the digital economy.
The findings on independent providers come as good news to the over 70,000 Canadians who have been calling for greater choice and affordability in Canada’s dysfunctional mobile market. Led by OpenMedia.ca, the Demand Choice campaign has been critical of Big Telecom providers blocking new innovative companies from entering the Canadian market -- ensuring Canadians continue to pay some of the highest prices in the industrialized world for some of the worst service.
The news also comes on the heels of a promise from Minister Moore to set aside scarce wireless spectrum for new market entrants who have less than 10 per cent of the national (and 20 per cent of the provincial) wireless subscriber market share. While this is a good step toward improving choice in our market, The Wall Report strongly suggests that government still has a long way to go in reining in Big Telecom -– part of which could be done by accepting suggestions that leading experts and innovators called for in a letter to Minister Moore last year.
While the report offers a fairly comprehensive overview of affordability in Canada, there were a few notable omissions. For example, international comparisons included affordable providers for Canada, but didn't include cheaper U.K. wireless companies like GiffGaff, for example. Because the U.K. has opened their networks, U.K. residents can enjoy a nationwide wireless plan with 1GB of data for the equivalent of less than $20 a month. Similarly, the Wall Report included Public Mobile and Mobilicity in the Canadian basket but Public Mobile was recently taken over by Telus and Mobilicity is struggling to stay afloat.
In the meantime, we can clearly see that more independent service providers are what we need in order to ensure Canadians have affordable alternatives to the sky-high prices charged by the Big Three. Recent steps by government have helped, but bold action is needed to open our networks and ensure indie providers can operate on a level playing field to the Big Three.
Speak out today to keep the pressure on at https://OpenMedia.ca/Gatekeepers
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