Canadian Wireless Carriers Hike Prices

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | March 18, 2014 12:55 PM EST

With nary a competition in sight, Canada's big three wireless carriers have all raised prices for their monthly plans by $5 as well as on their discount brands Koodo, Fido and Virgin. All their base plans now cost the same.

A woman uses a mobile device w
A woman uses a mobile device while walking past a Telus store in Ottawa February 19, 2014. Canadian telecom companies have paid a combined C$5.27 billion ($4.78 billion), a record high amount, to secure licenses for prime airwaves on which they plan to build more powerful wireless networks, the federal government said on Wednesday, as a new national challenger looked set to emerge from Quebec. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Bell, Rogers and Telus now all charge new smartphone plans with a new contract of $80 per month. It includes 500 MB of data, unlimited nationwide calling, unlimited messaging, voicemail and call display. Prices for other smartphone plans with more data are prices $145 and upwards.

The price hikes affect every Canadian province except Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The hikes does not affect existing plans.

"In one sense, they're [raising prices] just because they can get away with it," Michael Geist, E-Commerce lawyer and technology law columnist, said. "Until we get more competition in the marketplace, I don't think there's any doubt we'll see fees continue to increase in the future."

"What the big three are saying, in essence from a high level, is that they're seeing increasingly less competition," Ronald Gruia, a telecom expert at Frost & Sullivan in Toronto, said.

A Telus spokesperson said the company's new plans respond to "changing customer usage trends."

The new plans "better reflect the costs of providing wireless services and the multi-billion-dollar investments we make to ensure our customers have access to the world-class wireless coverage, reliability and speed they demand," Donna Ramirez, a Telus pokesperson, said.

Canada in February managed to interest a fourth player when it auctioned off 700 MHz of wireless spectrum. That new player was Videotron, the Quebecor-owned wireless provider which won seven licenses worth C$233.3 million, effectively enabling the new national challenger to expand its service not only in southern Ontario but as well as add customers in British Columbia and Alberta.

Industry Minister James Moore has said Videotron's entry could easily become Canada's fourth carrier.

But Pierre-Karl Peladeau, Quebecor's owner, recently declared himself a Parti Quebecois candidate in Quebec's provincial election, listing Videotron's future as a major wireless player in limbo.

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(Photo: A woman uses a mobile device w / )
A woman uses a mobile device while walking past a Telus store in Ottawa February 19, 2014. Canadian telecom companies have paid a combined C$5.27 billion ($4.78 billion), a record high amount, to secure licenses for prime airwaves on which they plan to build more powerful wireless networks, the federal government said on Wednesday, as a new national challenger looked set to emerge from Quebec. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
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