Government Trumpets Declining Wireless Prices, but Canada Still Middling in Global Comparisons

The 2013 Wall Communications Report on Canadian wireless and Internet pricing, produced annually for the CRTC and Industry Canada, was released yesterday. The study generated headlines on declining costs for wireless services, with Industry Minister Christian Paradis claiming that government policies were delivering lower prices for consumers. The key takeaway came from yet another shot across the telecom bow from the government:

Our plan is working: important progress has been made and Canadian families are seeing the benefits. The Harper Government will not let this progress be lost or undermined. We will continue. We will not hesitate to use any and every tool at our disposal to protect consumers and promote competition in every region of the country.

The continued focus on wireless competition will be needed since the Wall Communications report also found that Canada is middling at best relative to the other countries in the survey (US, UK, France, Australia, and Japan). In fact, Canada is described as being “on the high side” for virtually every key category, with only the U.S. faring consistently worse.

On wireless services, Canada ranks as the second most expensive for average use and the third most expensive for high volume use. The study states:

In sum, the Canadian Level 2 (average usage) mobile wireless service basket price falls in the middle of the group relative to the five foreign justifications included in this study. However, in the case of the Level 1 (low usage) and Level 3 (high usage including data) service baskets, Canada tends to fall on the high side of the average for the group of surveyed countries.

Broadband pricing ranks are similar with the second most expensive broadband services for the faster categories (16 – 40 Mbps and above 40 Mbps). As the study, notes Canadian pricing is relatively good at lower speeds, but poor for faster services:

In sum, Canadian broadband Internet service prices compare favourably with the other surveyed countries in the case of the Level 1 (< 3.0 Mbps download speeds) and Level 2 (4 – 15 Mbps) broadband service baskets. However, Canadian Level 3 (16 – 40 Mbps) and Level 4 (> 40 Mbps) prices are higher than the prices measured in the surveyed countries included in the study, with the exception of the U.S.

On mobile data, the survey finds that Canadians have access to fast mobile networks, but pay the highest rates among surveyed countries for larger data allocations (ie. 5 GB per month).

On balance, Canadian Level 1 (2 GB/month) mobile Internet service rates fall on the high-side of the average of the group of surveyed countries, whereas Canadian Level 2 (5 GB/month) rates are the highest of the group. On the other hand, Canadian advertized mobile Internet download speeds are higher than those in the other surveyed countries (largely due to the launch of 4G LTE services in Canada).

The full report can be accessed here.

One Comment

  1. drive by commenter says:

    Just a thought but…
    Here is a thought to mull over; in a smoke filled room a bunch of fat cats worry over the fact that the rubes are catching on the the lack of competition in the telecom game.

    So they come up with a scheme to show every one that things are getting better. In this scheme they make the CRTC watch dog look like less of a lap dog by shaving off just one year from the contract game they play. As long as the fat cats hoot and holler about how painful loosing one year is going to be then the rubes won’t guess that the game is still played by the house rules.