Are Canadian Cell Phone Bills the Most Expensive in the World?

Paying huge amounts for phone and mobile internet services has become something that most Canadians are used to. However a visitor can easily be shocked by how expensive it is to use cell phone services.

Canada remains at the top of the list when wireless prices are analyzed by country. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found Canada at the top of the list in terms of pricing on data plans.

“Canada ranks among the more expensive countries within the G7 in every category but one,” University of Ottawa tech law professor Michael Geist said.

The difference in prices compared to other similar countries is disproportionate. This is true for every strata of data pricing and mobile usage. A German could use a mobile plan for as less as $17 a month without any additional frills however the lowest available price in Canada was $41.08.

Telecom companies in Canada do offer $25 plans, however they remain a novelty and are not used by many since they don’t have even the basic data that packages in other countries offer and cannot really be considered on par with them.

European analyst Tefficient said in its report that Canadians were paying more for mobile data than any other of 32 wealthy countries surveyed.  It compared Canadian phone pricing with Finland’s where mobile usage is more accessible and the customers pay a lot lesser than an average Canadian.

The report also said that most mobile customers in Finland have unlimited data contracts, something that is still a luxury in Canada where most customers max out their data allowance and have to pay data overage fees to continue using their internet phones. A Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) survey found that 46 percent of Canadians exceeded their data allowance.

So why do telecoms charge such high prices? Some companies say the geographic size of Canada makes it challenging for them, however it is worth noting that Australia, which can be comparable, has mobile phone customers paying less than half of what Canadians shell out.  Industry experts have long stated that the major telecoms of Canada usually raise their prices simultaneously.

The competition bureau has long warned about Canada’s mobile prices. The bureau noted that Canadian telecoms are free to raise prices without effective discipline from competitive responses by rivals.

The government too protects Canadian telecoms since any foreign ownership of a major telecom is prohibited.  “You have three companies that are protected from international competition and the service they provide us is inferior,” University of Toronto professor Walid Hejazi told the Canadian Press in July echoing the sentiments of many Canadian mobile users.