Fact: Canadians are forced to pay some of the highest cellphone bills in the world.
Yes, we all collectively gripe about the strangely high price to use a smartphone in Canada, especially when comparing Canadian cell-plans to what you’d get in America, but there is some solid data to back up our constant complaining.
A CRTC study from 2016 found that, when it comes to mobile wireless plans, especially plans with data, Canada regularly ranked as the most expensive.
Another CRTC study, referenced by the National Post (which has a very detailed analysis on this topic, consider this piece the SparkNotes version), discovered that in 2015, 46% of Canadians went over their data limit.
So not only are Canadians paying some of the highest rates for data in the world, we’re not even getting enough of it.
Similar studies came to the same conclusions.
Tefficient, a Europe-based telecoms competitiveness specialist, looked at cellphone rates in 32 first-world countries.
Canada, once again, came out on the bottom, with some of the worst rates in the world.
Comparing data plans between Canada and Finland, which is somewhat similar to Canada in terms of climate, Finnish mobile users were shown to pay much less than Canadian mobile users and still get more data.
Even Australia pays less than Canadians do, nearly half as much depending on the mobile plan.
Don’t even start throwing in mobile rates in other countries (like France, where 23$ gets you A LOT) because it’ll just make you more depressed about how much we pay in Canada.
So why are Canadians forced to fork out so much for cellphone plans?
The usual answer is Canada’s size. Boasting the second largest land mass in the world, Canada doesn’t make it easy for telecoms providers.
But that’s just a convenient excuse.
In reality, it’s because Canada’s “Big Three” telecoms providers (Rogers, Bell, Telus) can basically charge however much they want.
Profit is at the core of any business and Canada’s telecoms providers know they can keep prices high. There’s really no other alternative for Canadians.
Foreign telecom companies can’t move into the country due to certain Canadian laws, securing the place of Bell, Rogers, and Telus.
The Big Three don’t need to worry much about outside competition, or even in-fighting between them. For the most part, Canada’s major telecoms providers set rates at the same price-points, ensuring Canadians can never really get a deal.
Feel fortunate, then, that you live in Quebec, one of the more affordable places in Canada to get a cellphone plan. And you have Videotron to thank.
Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec are the only provinces to have a single cellphone provider that isn’t Rogers, Bell, or Telus. That little bit of competition does go a long way, with the aformentioned provinces being the most affordable areas in Canada for cellphone plans.
It’s a silver lining on a dark cloud, because it sucks to say that Canada’s cellphone rates are so high simply because certain companies want to keep it that way.