sad phone by Ron Bennetts (CC BY-ND 2.0)

sad phone by Ron Bennetts (CC BY-ND 2.0)


More Steps Needed: Government Commissioned Report Shows Canadian Wireless Pricing Remains Among Highest in the Developed World

The Canadian government released the 2018 price comparison of wireless pricing just before the holidays, promoting the report with a press release trumpeting “greater competition leads to reduced mobile wireless price plans for Canadians.” Despite the optimism from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, a closer look at the data shows that Canadians continue to pay some of the highest wireless prices in the world. In fact, a comparison of pricing changes since the Liberals won the 2015 election reveals that Canada lags badly behind peer countries in the reduction of pricing of common wireless plans.

Consider the two baskets (or levels) that many consumers encounter when they consider a wireless plan: unlimited talk and text plus either 2 GB or 5 GB of data. In each case, Canadian prices are either the highest or second highest among the reviewed countries. Not only are the prices high, they are typically falling more slowly than in those other countries. In other words, the gap between Canada and other countries on wireless affordability is growing, not shrinking.

Level 4 – 2 GB, unlimited talk and text

Percent change
Canada 83 75 -9%
US 92 61 -34%
UK 62 27 -56%
France 48 31 -35%
Germany 72 46 -36%
Italy 63 21 -67%
Australia 78 25 -68%
Japan 82 NA


Level 5 – 5 GB, unlimited talk and text

Percent change
Canada 107 87 -28%
US 131 98 -25%
UK 69 31 -55%
France 61 34 -44%
Germany 103 65 -37%
Italy 77 30 -61%
Australia 97 27 -72%
Japan 103 NA


While the Canadian carriers seem determined to adopt a climate change denier style approach by injecting dubious data into the debate (more on that in a post tomorrow), the reality is that comparison data overwhelmingly points to Canadian wireless prices as uncompetitive, leading to reduced usage and harming the innovation economy. As Meghan Sali points out in her excellent Globe and Mail op-ed, the lack of wireless competitiveness is emerging as a political issue. With an election only months away, the time for real policy reform – including mandated MVNOs to encourage greater competition – is long overdue.


  1. Kelly Manning says:

    It always amazes me how much people are prepared to pay for telecom “service”.

    Besides living in a wireless service black hole the cost of mobile in Canada is just not worth it to me for a personal mobile device. My work cell phone used to roam to USA Cell Towers in Washington State at my home, until I reminded my Employer’s Corporate Services that our contract with our client specified that no voice or data communication pass through another country. They had to tell Bell to disable Roaming.

    Employers had me start carrying brick sized cell phones that they paid for back in the early 1990s and I never understood the appeal. People think that they can interrupt you in the middle of meetings for things that are better left in an e-mail or voice mail queue to assign a relative priority to and deal with later.

    I remember Shaw sending out a sample invoice to “explain” their new invoice format a while back. With all the various charges it amounted to several times the rock bottom basic cable I was paying for.

  2. Vincent Wesley says:

    Navdeep Bains and Ian “the Mole” Scott can’t change anything since going against the Cartel would be a conflict of interest.

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  4. A billion times said over the decades… cut foreign ownership restrictions and let in real competition from abroad, period.

    • Bingo! This is the real answer. Canadian government is in the pocket of Big Corporations and the only way to get reduced costs and plans is to let the market dictate on good ol’ supply and demand principles. The market will always charge whatever it can bear, especially when propped up prices are supported by government!

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