The European Commission has released a new study it commissioned on broadband pricing in Europe and several other leading countries. It confirms yet again what Canadian consumers have long suspected: Canada is among the most expensive countries in the developed economy world for broadband Internet services. The study, which provides data on the 2016 retail pricing for consumers throughout the EU, Canada, the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Norway, and Iceland, found Canadians consistently face some of the most expensive pricing regardless of speed or whether the packages include local telephone and television services. The survey was conducted over a two-week period in October 2016 and included retail pricing for five major Canadian ISPs: Bell, Shaw, Rogers, Videotron, and Telus. The data includes procedures to account for one-off fees and other discounts.
While the focal point of the study is European broadband pricing, the comparative data tells a discouraging story for Canadian consumers. The study examines several tiers: 12 – 30 Mbps, 30 – 100 Mbps, and over 100 Mbps. For each tier, the study considers several options: standalone broadband, broadband + local telephone, broadband + television, and a triple play that includes broadband, local telephone, and television.
Canadian pricing is expensive relative to others for most tiers and options. For example, broadband in the 30 – 100 Mbps range covers the CRTC’s target of 50 Mbps for all Canadians. Standalone broadband at that speed range is the most expensive in Canada with pricing far higher than those found in Europe, Japan, South Korea, or the U.S. The same is true for most combinations where Canada is the highest for broadband + television and broadband + local telephone + television. Canada is similarly expensive in the 12 – 30 Mbps tier, where Canadian prices are either the highest or second highest (to the U.S.) in each combination. Canada ranks as the second most expensive market for all combinations in the fastest broadband tier.
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains has focused on wireless affordability, emphasizing that the market suffers from high pricing and a lack of competition. The wireless sector remains a significant problem, but affordable broadband is also a significant concern. Studies on the issue invariably reach the same conclusion: Canadian prices are high relative to other developed countries. If the government is serious about fostering an innovative economy with opportunities for all, addressing the need for affordable broadband and competitive pricing must be a key priority.