Here’s what you need to know about the 700Mhz auction, Videotron’s wait-and-see approach, and why monthly plans keep rising

Daniel Bader

March 19, 2014 5:15 pm

There’s been a lot of talk recently about why Canadians seem to be paying an increasingly high monthly rate for smartphone plans. We recently brought you news that nearly every provider in Canada, from the incumbents like Rogers, Bell and Telus, to their subsidiary brands, Fido, Virgin and Koodo, has increased the cost of their plans, but that’s not the whole story — and not entirely accurate.

So let’s take a look at what’s been happening in the Canadian telco industry of late, and see if we can’t try to better understand the reasons behind the trend of rising prices.

tower

The auction

The government raised over $5 billion from its 700Mhz spectrum auction, and was accused of favouring the incumbents with its combinatorial clock format. As a result, companies like SaskTel and MTS complained that they didn’t have the opportunity to purchase price spectrum, even in their own provinces. Rogers reaped the highest reward, but paid around three times what TELUS paid, which paid twice that of Bell. In short, Rogers got really good spectrum that aligns with AT&T, while Bell and TELUS, likely to continue their network partnership, aligns more with Verizon. This no longer carries the advantage it once did, as Verizon is transitioning its voice customers from CDMA next year in favour of VoLTE (voice over LTE), so phone interoperability will only get better.

Rogers already has a considerable lead over Bell and TELUS — especially TELUS — in its overall spectrum acquisition, and while the actual number of 700Mhz licenses it purchased is lower, the company only purchased paired spectrum, which is far more versatile than the combination of paired and unpaired shared between TELUS and Bell.

While none of the incumbents are hurting for spectrum, if you had to bet on one horse solely by the amount and quality of its spectrum, Rogers would win.

videotron

Videotron’s “wait-and-see” approach

Even if you discount former Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau’s separatist leanings, Videotron’s acquisition of 700Mhz spectrum outside of Quebec and eastern Ontario is not necessarily a call for celebration.

Under the auction rules, companies have 10 years to deploy towers that offer 700Mhz service, and a requirement to cover between 20% and 50% of the affected population. Based on the high-density regions in which Videotron spent its money, that may only mean deploying half a dozen towers in each region, not a huge investment. While it’s unlikely Videotron will ever be able to sell the C1 block spectrum it bought to an incumbent like Rogers or Bell, it’s also not under any pressure to deploy a nationwide — or at least region-wide — LTE network. The Big Three don’t have to worry about Quebecor eating its lunch anytime soon, either, as Videotron representatives have repeatedly stated that its participation in the auction was more an investment in the future than a declaration of expansion.

IMG_20140313_234626

Higher data prices…right?

Much of the Canadian media, including MobileSyrup, began reporting in January that the incumbents were raising prices on their shared data plans. TELUS was first out of the gate, rejigging its data pool offerings while raising rates on per-line monthly costs, but Rogers and, more recently, Bell followed suit. If you look at the companies’ prices on shared data plans today, they’re identical.

Let’s start with the specifics. TELUS did in fact lower the price on two of its data packages: the 500MB allotment dropped from $25 to $20, and the 1GB allotment dropped from $30 to $25. Why, then, are the prices the same — $80 and $85 —  as they were before the change? Because the per-line cost of a smartphone rose by $5 across the board: $40 for BYOD (was $35), $50 for Smartphone Lite (was $45), $60 for Smartphones (was $55). Rogers and Bell have since adopted this change, too.

Now let’s talk about the other stuff. The 3GB data pool has been dropped in favour of separate 2GB and 4GB plans. We’ve been told by both Rogers and TELUS representatives that LTE users tend to use around 1.5-2GB of data per month, so a 2GB plan was necessary to appeal to those users. At $90/month, the 2GB plan is also considerably lower than the $105 being asked for the 3GB plan; at $110, the 4GB plan is also only slightly more than the now-eliminated 3GB option.

Where the price increases are unequivocal are in the higher-data tiers. The 6GB shared data plan increased in price by $5 across the board, from $120 to $125. The same is true of the 10GB plan — $140 to $145 — and the 15GB plan, $160 to $165 (only Rogers and Bell offer a 15GB package).

Screenshot 2014-03-19 16.48.33

Much spittle has been generated towards the carriers this week as a result of this “across the board” price increase; CBC even went so far as to suggest the carriers colluded on the price changes, raising prices on the same day (they didn’t: TELUS did it in January, Rogers in February, and Bell in March). But there is no question that the price increases are in places that hurt consumers the most: because the price of each line, per month, has increased by $5, accounts with multiple numbers sharing a single data pool will feel the pinch the most.

Let’s do a bit of math. Before the price change, it cost $85 for a single smartphone line with 1GB of shared data, broken down into $55 for the smartphone with unlimited voice, messaging, etc., and $30 for the shared data pool. Adding a second line to that account cost between $35 and $55 depending on the type of smartphone, but say for argument sake we’re adding another high-end smartphone. That will increase the monthly cost to $140; a third smartphone brings the monthly cost to $195.

Under the current pricing model, though, things are a bit different. That first line still costs $85 — $60 for the smartphone with unlimited voice, messaging, etc., and $25 for the shared data pool. But add an extra smartphone to the account and we’re suddenly paying $145; a third smartphone increases the cost to $205.

So while some data prices for shared data plans may have dropped (and let’s be honest, the majority have not, but have merely stayed the same) adding a second, third, fourth or fifth smartphone to a shared data pool got more expensive for everyone. Sure, there are alternative plans for those who don’t want or need shared data, but they are either for lower-priced smartphones that don’t require as much subsidy, or provide far less data than the shared data equivalent.

telusprovincialcomparison

The regional divide

Here’s the problem with the above comparison: it doesn’t take into account provinces that have regional incumbents with significant market share. For example, if you head to Rogers’ page for Manitoba or Quebec, you’ll be graced with completely different offers than those in Ontario, British Columbia or Alberta. Due to the presence of MTS, SaskTel and Videotron, the incumbents have been forced to compete on a completely different scale than in provinces where Wind or Mobilicity have traditionally played the same role.

Screenshot 2014-03-19 16.45.08

For example, in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, it’s possible to get a 10GB shared data plan on Rogers for $75; as seen above, the difference between a TELUS Lite 60 plan in Ontario and Quebec is 2.5GB. The existence of Videotron is likely the sole reason for that compelling option.

Ben Klass, Manitoba resident and wireless critic, wrote a fantastic blog post on this very subject, indicting Rogers for misleading pricing practices on its own website.

iphone5sreview-18

So what now?

That’s a difficult thing to predict. The incumbents survived the 700Mhz spectrum auction without ceding territory to a US entrant like Verizon, and made few sacrifices in allowing Videotron to purchase a single block of spectrum in several high-population regions around the country.

Some have speculated that the price increases have been issued because the balance owed to the government is due soon — 30 days after the list of winners. But that’s only taking a narrow scope of what’s actually happening: as quickly as data revenue is increasing, voice revenue is dropping faster, negatively affecting blended ARPU (average revenue per user). Wireless profits dipped for all but TELUS in this past quarter, and net additions have slowed due to an increasingly saturated Canadian smartphone market. Rogers, for example, says that 75% of its postpaid base are using smartphones, a 6% increase from the same period a year earlier.

There is still plenty of room for growth in the wireless market, but the vast majority of that growth — revenue and profit — will come from data. Voice and SMS usage — and profitability — is quickly shrinking, so don’t expect carriers to let up on data prices when it’s their sole source of butter for an ever-shrinking loaf of bread.

My thanks to Mark Goldberg for help hammering out the finer points in this article.

  • southerndinner

    tl;dr

    Carriers are scumbags and rip off artists, but less so in SK/MB where they actually have legitimate competition.

    • Matt

      ^^This.

      These guys should be mandated to offer the same price nation wide. If you can afford to give away your service in one province you damn well can in all of them.

  • D Kupp

    According to our minister, Mr. Moore, “We have a dynamic mixed of firms” serving Canadian consumers and their lovely commercial of more choices, lowers prices and less commitments.

    Recent price increases from the parents, to its flanker brand and down to Public Mobile are also increasing prices! Cell phone is becoming a luxury item instead of an affordable daily equipment. I am glad that I am on Wind and none of these non-sense is hitting me. Those who are on contracts or doing hardware renewal will feel the biggest pinch and it is now minimum of $80 + tax…. Mind you, if you go over slightly on data, you can rest assure your bill will be $100+.

    I know Wind is not for everyone but those those conduct their daily life 90% of the year within their zone should join Wind. To the extend that a number of my co-workers are now buying unlocked devices and keeping their existing plans for as long as they can, this is a sad moment for Canadian cell phone users

    • collinpage

      Amen… Im glad I spend 99% of my time in the wind zones because I really wouldn’t enjoy spending twice as much for cell bills

    • Bri Bru

      more like triple the amount I pay for my bill with Wind. There are so many people that don’t realize how much they can save with WIND it’s ridiculous.

    • Sl

      I had wind but always had problems getting signal. And the data speeds were as slow as dial up internet so I dropped them and moved to virgin.

    • Bri Bru

      I’m guessing your area was poorly covered by Wind.. that’s unfortunate

  • TomsDisqusted

    It needs to be emphasized how well the 700 MHz auction turned out for Robellus. Not only is Videotron unlikely to do much soon, but their corporate makeup and interests are very similar to Robellus, and they really have no motivation to stir things up. Even if they start building it will just mean a new member of the club: Robellustron!

    When the Tories killed the All-stream deal they killed the future of Wind, and with Verizon accepting that Robellus tight grip on Canada made it near impossible for anyone to compete in just one area (cellular), the prospect of real competition is dead.

    So, if prices haven’t already gone up in your region of Canada, don’t worry – they will.

    • Peter

      You act as if they got the spectrum for free. They spent billions to invest in a faster network that consumers are demanding. If they stopped investing then we would see prices fall but as long as we demand a faster more robust network the costs will increase.

    • TomsDisqusted

      The cost of the spectrum is a separate issue. Providers are supposed to pay for the spectrum AND compete against other companies. Paying for the spectrum isn’t supposed to be like buying protection from competition.

  • GrimConch

    Great article. Very nice to see a “complete picture” for this kind of thing.

  • Raphael Del Castillo

    dam. i feel for everyone. i have been a mobilicity customer for 4 years, basically ever since they came out. but recently i have been having problems with calls and texts arriving and sending late. i had the family and friends plan which had unlimited everything. and when i mean everything i mean everything. calls to the states, nationwide, global texts and unlimited data. but it was only if i had connection. I live in thte gta peel area and basically im only a few km from the end of their towers. I do enjoy them, no doubt about that. they gave me good service. but as soon as they began to drop out of the competition, calling took almost a minute to connect even in downtown texts arrived late and people did not recieve them until an hour later. I tried to see if it was my phone but it was not. Everyone in my family is with mobilicity and they experienced the same issue. I was offered a business plan by a good friend and now im with rogers corperate plan. its not unlimited data, calls or text msgs, but it is more than enough at the rate i go and just 15 dollars extra from my mobilcity plan. I love the connection and the speeds i get and i am quite content with rogers. but the only tihng now is that i have to watch my usage and bill. i was charged an extra 25 dollars on my bill, called rogers and told me they made a mistake. though i got my money back i was upset that they charged me unknowingly for no reason and the first customer rep didnt even spot it. it was the 2nd rep that told me they made a mistake. so for everyone on any of the big 3 and their subs, just watch that bill even a few dollars makes a difference over time.

    • Bri Bru

      I hated it when that happened to me before when I was with Rogers. Every time they made a mistake, I had to talk to a several representative and spend nearly 30 min or more (sometimes a few days) to resolve the problem that they created. It’s extremely stressful and a waste of time. In return, they can do nothing but say sorry and I really feel that they should give us some sort of reward for their mistakes, perhaps credit to the account? At least when I was with Rogers 2 years ago, this happened way too often and I’m so glad that I’m not with Rogers anymore.

    • Raphael Del Castillo

      Who did you move too? I wonder if I get billed calling rogers technical support Lmao.

    • Bri Bru

      I switched to WIND. No extra charges by mistake ever.

  • Raphael Del Castillo

    i think once they phase out those plans you have to go onto their new ones. I know it sucks. if it were month to month i believe it wouldnt change unless they said it will be set for a lifetime.

    • Todd Forgrave

      If they did try, that would be a good time to buy the phone outright in order to keep your plan, though expensive at the beginning I imagine the difference would be saved over the 2 years of the higher cost/lesser value plan.

    • William Z. 

      I don’t think they could ever force you to change the grandfathered plans. What you have is really good deal, so don’t let it go(unless there is sth worth to change, unlikely~~).

  • GrimConch

    For Telus at least you cant renew with old 6GB plans but can keep them otherwise. It’s a pain but you’ll have to consider no-contract options in keeping that plan.

    • Raphael Del Castillo

      Dam it makes me think if leaving mobilicity was a good choice…. I still have 3 years but what if they don’t offer me the same one… With mobilicity it was locked for life..

    • Bri Bru

      I’m sure if you “threaten” to switch because they force you to upgrade, they’ll let you keep it.

  • Pat

    Why do the CRTC don’t pass a rules that say Every plan in Canada should be the same. So that way, provider like Sask and MB, will help bring the cost down across Canada. This would be simple, and fair.

    • Anonymous501

      Umm so who determines what the “same rate” is. Your assuming for some reason that Sask/MB rates would win that battle. Would all the Canadian telco’s have to sit down and agree? It’s possible they would agree on higher rates because the big 3 would be to stubborn to lower theirs.

    • Pat

      What I mean by same rate why rogers have a plan let say Plan A 5 gb in sask for let say 45$, and same company in alberta Plan A 2 gb for 60$. Why between province the company has to have such big difference in package between province? That what I mean. If there a rules in place for a company to offert same plan across Canada, this shoulf stabilize the price since some odd company in such province help bring cost down.

    • Anonymous501

      It’s the competition. The regional carriers in those areas are bringing competition that doesn’t exist in other provinces. I see what you mean though. Not all companies have to offer the same rate, but the carrier itself has to make their price universal across the country.

      Then they have the dilemma of losing out on customers in provinces with more competition. I didn’t quite understand your first comment, now it makes more sense. Interesting idea.

    • Pat

      Because, I don’t think a 4 provider will do any difference. Why ? Well there is 3 big company offert a price, They might decide to go 5$ less then the other company, then when they get big, will so the same as the other 3. So every plan the CRTC do the complete opposite of what we want!

    • blzd

      Agreed. If they were forced to charge the same Ontario prices in those provinces they would lose all their customers. This would force them to offer fair prices across Canada.

      Don’t they keep advertising their networks as “Nation Wide” ? Let’s see them put their money where their mouth is.

    • Andrew_notPorC

      They’d rather hose Ontarians and lose their marketshare in Manitoba than give Ontarians a better deal.

      Also, the solution is easy: regional flanker brands like chatr.

    • Peter

      They are a business, each market is different, they will charge whatever the market will accept.

    • Andrew_notPorC

      They should create a regulation banning device subsidies. Phone companies should be able to finance phones at a reasonable interest rate over terms of 24 or 36 months. This way people who pay off their phones don’t get hosed on BYOD ($5 discount per month is OUTRAGEOUS). If the carrier is overcharging for devices, you can buy your own unlocked at retail and get the same plan (obviously sans finance charge).

      Also, no contracts, with balances owed either paid out without significant penalty or financed by the new carrier.

    • Peter

      LOL, more regulation? how has that worked out? Let your wallets do the talking instead

    • Andrew_notPorC

      You need regulation to deal with monopolistic markets, like cell service provision.

      Should we ban regulation saying who gets to use what spectrum, too?

  • ArclightX

    So here’s everyone’s Tip of the Day.

    Telus offers a $65/mo plan w/5Gigs of data with unlimited voice/msging across Canada in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. So long story short, do what you must, call a relative in Sask/MB and tell them you’re using their address. Or find a relative. Or invent a relative. Or manufacture a relative. Do what you have to do to vote with your wallet.

    Yes you’ll have a Sask/MB area code # but who gives a F**k. The nearest “share” plan Telus offers costs $125 (6 gigs, $110 for 4 gigs).

    Not sure what Bell/Rogers offer in Sask/MB but I’ll bet that it’s similar pricing.

    There, you now all owe me a cookie.

    • b_diddy

      Ya Telus had a sweet plan when l lived in MB. I think it was 10 less than what they offer now. I was going to sign up but ended up moving back to Ontario.

    • GrimConch

      Would you believe I’ve been selling phones for about 5 years and have never had anyone even ask me to do this?

    • Plazmic Flame

      Just might have to do this…

  • Mel Vin Prasad

    Ive been on a $60 6gb plan for a few years with rogers. Even when i upgraded to a 2 year term from 3 year they still let me keep my old plan

    • marorun1982

      Next time they won’t..

    • Pat

      Bell wont! Unless I pay new phone cash!

    • Peter

      Just do the math, if it makes sense to buy a phone then do it.

  • Humberto Giambrone

    That was a long-winded way saying what everybody already knew; the money is in data, so they must reset the market for what they charge for data to overcome the decreased value of minutes and texting. Only a fool wouldn’t have seen this coming.

  • Jay

    You can never be forced to relinquish your plan. Regulations prohibit changes that would either make your plan more expensive or remove aspects of your plan while keeping the monthly fee the same. That said, I have heard of customers being swindled to ‘agree’ to change their plan. Once they give the ‘ok’ to change it, it’s gone forever. The other way you could be bullied out of your plan is by your carrier finding a way to make your plan not qualify for subsidy of a smartphone in which case you would have to buy your device outright to keep your plan. But, based on the last few rounds of plan changes, I’d say you’re safe. Usually they have a clause for grandfathered plans that as long as your monthly fee is over x amount of dollars, they will qualify you for subsidy. Plans would have to increase considerably before $75/month wouldn’t qualify as a big enough plan.
    Source; Cellular sales manager that has been through a lot of industry changes.

    • Jay

      You should be okay for at least a little while. Which province do you live in? In Manitoba, there is still a $55 plan that qualifies for full subsidy. Just a couple months ago they had a $45 as a temporary promo.

    • Xelstyle

      Rogers asks for a combination of voice and data amounting to $60 before any add ons to keep the plan and qualify for subsidy. Telus says $70 total including addons but many plans don’t quality because they’ve expired in the system. Bell straight up says no and you just migrate to something in market.

  • Anonymous501

    Except the phone bills are going up. It’s not like the overall portion of the phone stays level. IE the voice portion drops by $5 and thus the data goes up by $5. You can’t buy a smartphone plan without getting voice added. I call BS on that.

    • Philosoraptor

      Yes you can, I’ve done it. Get a “tablet plan” and use a free VoIP like Fongo that gives you an actual Canadian number (any area code you wish, by the way) and texting is $2/month.

    • Peter

      that is correct

  • danny21

    Call me crazy, but I’ve been thinking for a while that a group should form a new wireless company, launch/fund it on Kickstarter, and position it as “the people’s wireless provider”.. meaning, the focus is on lower monthly rates that are actually reasonable and doesn’t screw the end consumer. Money could be raised and towers could be funded through the Kickstarter project of those contributing and I really think it would shake up the industry and give the big 3 a run for their money since everyone is fed up with them… if you think about it, $5 – $20 pledges per person from a pool of customers fed up with increasing rate plans.. i really wonder if it would work…

    • Comrade Yeti

      You think you could get kickstarter to kick in the hundred of millions/billions needed just to get spectrum? How about the next hundred million or so to build out the towers? Backhaul? Network gear? Starting a national network is not cheap

    • Mäuri Freitas

      ever heard of MVNO ?

    • Andrew_notPorC

      Good luck getting reasonable terms from the incumbents. Maybe if the CRTC forces them to offer access to their networks at reasonable rates.

    • Comrade Yeti

      He talked about creating a company and raising towers. That’s not an MVNO.

  • monsterduc1000

    Glad I signed a three year with 6gb, ten fave, 200 min for $65 a month :)

    I guess I’ll just start buying my phones outright and keep grandfathering this plan in :)

    • HoodedDemon

      I have that plan from Telus. I got it on a HTC phone then switched to the Nexus on a 2 year and they let me keep the plan.

    • Stuntman06

      I have pretty much the same plan. I fluked out with my timing when I wanted to change my plan with Bell and they had this introductory plan at the time. It was actually better than both the plan I had and the plan I wanted to change to and was cheaper than either. I have another 16 months on my contract.

  • junkyardpuppy

    “Max contract is 2 year now, we have to charge more” BS, see Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec

    “Canada is really big compared to those other countries where the population is more dense” BS, see Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec

    [Insert excuse or charging more here] — BS SEE MANITOBA, SASKATCHEWAN AND QUEBEC

  • Rio

    I wish Wind went regional first instead of these spots here and there.

    There would have been more of a competition if they started small and provided services on par with that of Bell & Rogers.

    • Andrew_notPorC

      They really should have tried to establish themselves really strongly in Ontario.

      TBH, Wind got screwed over by the fed government numerous times. I think they finally got the message and are not going to invest another penny in Canada.

    • Comrade Yeti

      +1 When the government said they wanted foreign investment they really should have said ‘safe’ foreign investment like a large US or Western European player. Wind and its backers never stood a chance.

  • Plazmic Flame

    I wish the article would go viral, it’s a really good breakdown for those who don’t know the whole picture. Honestly, I don’t know how people do it. When I see people with new phones, I ask them who they’re with and what plan they have. When someone tells me the price they’re paying on the new 2 year plan, you can see the blood and tears in their eyes. It’s ridiculous. $110 a month for 4GBs of data…. meanwhile I get 100GBs of data at my house for $60… wtf?? Things are not right. These prices are out of control and to find out that you can get 10GBs of data for $75 elsewhere??? Man…. this guys are the best of mafioso…

  • Thom

    So you’re assuming in your pricing that you’d share 1gb on 2-3 devices ? That’s laughable at best.

  • Sky

    This article made me so angry. I’ve had a wind account for 1.5yrs now and a fido account for 6 months just in case I was out of wind coverage. Cancelled my fido account today. Robbers won’t get a dime from me now.

  • mwahahahaha

    RISE UP RISE UP! Oh rise and show your power!
    RISE UP RISE UP! We’re dancing into the sun
    RISE UP RISE UP! It’s time for celebration
    RISE UP RISE UP! Spirits time has come

    Come on RAISE THOSE PRICES UP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Thomas C. Riddell

    Some people don’t like wind cause it not LTE or it not national Carrier But I have HSDPA. it’s not bad for speed $30.00 unlimited data I am very happy I would never pay over 40.00 for a Unlimited Cell phone plan I stay in the GTA so wind works fine for my Use

  • spiralout112

    You say they are seeing reduced profits due to less voice calling, I don’t buy it. Cell phone plans are more expensive than ever, I suppose I got lucky, I’ve had the same plan with telus for years, 200mins and 6gb data, paying 75 a month. Sounds like a plan like this is now worth well above a hundred a month, and honestly that’s absolute BS. I almost feel like saying shame on this site and the writer for creating such a soft ball article. Have some conviction and hold these guys over the fire rather than detail us on the new more expensive plans our cellular overlords have come up with for us.

  • pc1234

    So much for cheaper bills, I just moved back from Saskatchewan and my bill went up $25 a month with less gigabits data. Sasktel does awesome for that province to bad everyone else sold out. Now we are stuck with Telus no BCTel and no regulation…..

  • Tom

    $54 (including 10% BYOD discount) from Fido, unlimited nationwide talk and text, 2 GB of data.

    I know others have probably gotten even better deals through temp promotions/negotiations/etc but it’s a steal compared to today’s new plans :(

    When Wind builds a tower close enough to my workplace that I can get indoor reception, I’ll switch right away!

  • Lakh Jhajj

    Thats should be the price of a plan. Reasonable i can call it $75 for 10 gb woth Unlimited Nationwide Talk and Text. As this article says unless there is fierce competition the Big 3 will not lower their prices for Data Plans in Ontario.

    Telus was not even willing to give me unlimited incoming calling in Ontario for $150 in 2007. And then came WIND in 2008/2009 and now all the Incumbents are offering unlimited calling and text for $35/45. Thats what WIND/MOBLICITY/Public forced them to do.

    So the day WIND can offer decent DATA speeds i mean if not LTE at least true HSPA+ speeds and keep the unlimited plan for $40-45 then the Big 3 will be forced to offer Data at lower prices.
    Or may be Videotron expands to Ontario with their LTE Data plans then will the greedy TELUS ROGERS BELL and all their children carriers will have to compete on lower Data prices bec as of today I called Telus 5-6 times in the last 6 months to get a better price for my data plan they wont do any better as simply say WIND is not our competitor their Data speeds suck and the user experience is not their. So in other words TELUS is telling me that you have no choice except to pay 3 times more than wind for 10 gb to get double and some cases triple the data speeds.

    I was really optimistic about WIND to make a difference in Data plan prices also when they participated in this 700 mhz auction but they just shattered my dream and killed the last hope for lower priced data plans ontario by pulling out of the auction a day before. Now we are all at the mercy of the Big 3 again till there comes another SAVIOUR!!!

  • Alain Lafond

    Why, when you’re talking about Rogers, you don’t say that Ted Rogers is a federalist…
    One thing is sure: If you live in separatist Québec, you’ll pay less for cel service…

    • Philosoraptor

      Maybe because: a) Ted Rogers is dead and therefore has nothing to do with the company; and b) a federalist would have no qualms in building a national network.

  • Hungrier

    “Due to the presence of MTS, SaskTel and Videotron, the incumbents have been forced to compete”

    That’s where that sentence should have ended.

    • Philosoraptor

      True, I haven’t seen any competition here in Ontario despite WIND’s presence in my city.

    • Philosoraptor

      Yes, you’re right about that. But those are things that have long become irrelevant as the carriers have raised their prices to the point where it’s essentially the same as when you had to pay for these as add-ons. Plus, the little guys never put a sizeable dent in the Big 3’s customer base in ON.

    • Philosoraptor

      I also blame both the perpetual myth that WIND somehow completely sucks in terms of coverage and the general population’s inability to do basic math. Not one single person I’ve recommended WIND to has regretted the switch. Now, I’m not claiming that their network is anywhere in the vicinity of the incumbents’ networks but I feel that it’s more than acceptable considering the price (if you get coverage in your home).

      When WIND became available in my area, I had almost 2 years left on my Bell account. It still made financial sense to cancel. Plus, selling my Bell devices would offset that cost in any case. I ended up not cancelling because I was able to secure two $10/month “emergency plans” (50 local minutes and nothing else), which essentially halved my cancellation fee.

  • George

    “In short, Rogers got really good spectrum that aligns with AT&T, while Bell and TELUS, likely to continue their network partnership, aligns more with Verizon.”
    This is not accurate. T+B aligns to both AT&T AND VZW. They have the advantage of aligning to both big carriers in the U.S.

  • Ranger

    MobileSyrup posted an article with the help of Mark Goldberg… a lobbyist for the big three and actually posted the article. . Wow.. you just lost your credibility.

    The fact is.. single prices plans for one line… have gone up. You get leas and for paying more…. that is the finer details… you didnt need goldbergs help to twist things around

    To actually get a decent plan you need to threaten to cancel … but even with that there is no leverage any more.

  • Chris

    At last, MTS has a reason for existing! Keeping all the other provider’s rates down. My god, this is robbery. I ain’t never giving up my unlimited everything +6GB data for 62$ a month all in. I’ll fight Rogers to the death for it.

  • noenoatgnoadns

    its daniel bader, what did you really expect?

  • Marwan Alani

    I do understand the business point-of-view, but by the end of the day I’m a customer, I DON’T CARE ! All I know is that a plan I have to pay $80 per month for now was $50-$60 3 years ago … Now I’m no math genius, But a %30+ increase in 3 years is not even close to what the average pay increased for (just as an example, the minimum wages are still the same in ON for the past 3 years).
    Costs inflation vs. Income inflation (if any) : That’s what I care about, not giving excuses to companies so they can take more of my hard-earned money.

    • Who Needs Facts

      In Jan 2010 the price of gas in Toronto was 92.4. In Jan 2013 it was 137.5. A kg of hamburger was 7.06 and now it is 9.77.

      You don’t even want to look at beer or smokes.

      Consumer prices have little to do with wages…they have to do with what portion of the wage a person is willing to spend.

  • Garrett Cooper

    “There is still plenty of room for growth in the wireless market, but the vast majority of that growth — revenue and profit — will come from data. Voice and SMS usage — and profitability — is quickly shrinking, so don’t expect carriers to let up on data prices when it’s their sole source of butter for an ever-shrinking loaf of bread.”

    Really? They’re forcing “unlimited Canadian minutes” down our throats on every smartphone plan even though the vast majority don’t require it. I just renewed with Bell and loyalty/retentions couldn’t even offer me a plan without unlimited minutes (although I ended up getting a good v&d plan for $55), so to say “Voice and SMS usage — and profitability — is quickly shrinking” I call BS. Use is shrinking for sure, but they’re just charging more to tell us we’re getting more… of something most don’t need. #marketing

  • Roger

    I’ll keep my plan and get my own phone when my contract runs out… $65+tax with 5GB and 500 min+Nationwide Fav10, unlimited texts, CID and VM included. (in Toronto, ON)

  • Who Needs Facts

    Nothing new to see here.

    Corporations doing what corporations do – pay the shareholder maximum value on investment.

    Governments doing what governments do – tell the people whatever it takes for them to remain in power

    People doing what people do – complain that they are being ripped off when at the same time they charge their employer or customer exactly as much as they can, which of course, is generally the same price as their competitor.

    Oh the outrage.Yawn.

  • Peter

    A few years ago people were complaining that we don’t have unlimited calling plans, now we have unlimited plans but nobody wants to pay the extra $$ for it. Then people wanted unlimited sms with their plans, now we have it yet we don’t want to pay the extra $$$ for it. The next hot issue is data, everyone wants ridiculously fast speeds, they want it to work in their basement, in a forest, in a skyscraper and across Canada and they also want a lot of it. And oh yeah, nobody wants to pay for it.
    The technology is getting better, so are the phones and the investment required is huge. We really shouldn’t be surprised and at the end of the day, it is not something you truly need.

    • Philosoraptor

      I don’t pay much attention to those that want everything included for $40/month on a mobile device. While I believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right, that doesn’t mean that this extends to massive bandwidth consumption (at least not in the mobile sector). Nor do I pay much attention to those that can’t grasp how radio waves work when they complain about signal strength (we’re past the point where the companies can so easily deceive you – if your signal sucks, you do have the right to cancel penalty free for 15 days and I don’t buy or subscribe to anything on promises of future upgrades).

      But here is what isn’t unreasonable for $40 a month. Unlimited calling and messaging (nationwide, or at least province-wide). Actually, that can be taken down to 1000 minutes or 500 with free evenings/weekends. I know that it costs the networks next to nothing to provide this. Add in 1 GB of data and you’re all set. One gig is more than enough for those users that just want to browse, be social, and stream the very occasional SD video or music without worry about being over the limit. WIND does province-wide with 5 GB data for $30. Nationwide with the same data for $40. Most of us aren’t asking the Big 3 flanker brands to match this outright. Why would they? WIND does have an inferior network and they do have to offer more. In the UK you can get something similar for GBP 20. Not only is this slightly less than $40, but a person working minimum wage there would make this amount in ~3.2 hours whereas a person doing the same thing in Ontario would spend ~4 hours of their salary for what I’m proposing.

      People massively wanting faster speeds is something that I see cited online a hell of a lot, yet I’ve yet to meet one single person who cares about LTE. I’m not against progress, but even the incumbents’ HSPA networks are far from perfect. But we’re among the first in the world to get LTE because these companies are telling us that we want it. They repeat it so much that most people seem to just accept it. And 2/3 of these companies are the same ones that were telling us that CDMA was better than 2G GSM despite the majority of the world adopting the latter. We’re the world’s biggest small nation. Should we as citizens really be forced to pay for beta-testing cutting edge tech? Why not separate pricing according to max speed as well as a data cap (like in home broadband)? Let those that want/need the cutting edge pay for it. Then the companies will see what the market truly demands.

    • Who Needs Facts

      If you look at the comments here, I think it becomes clear that most of the complaints about pricing come from those that are in the “high data” plans.

      By looking at the pricing though, it would seem they should perhaps be a little more appreciative as it would seem that they are being heavily subsidized by the “low data” plans.

    • Philosoraptor

      I find that comments here don’t really apply to most phone users. We’re a very specialized interest group.

    • Peter

      Great response, you are right most would be well off with the 1000 minutes and 1GB. Two points however, although the actual transmission of data costs quite little at that point in time, there is a huge cost to support those transmissions, either through employees, network upgrades, litigation etc. Secondly, any profits the big three have had have gone to dividends, share buybacks, network investments etc. They do not hoard money, they re-contribute back to the industry. So the idea that they are gouging consumers is not accurate, in the grand scheme of things consumers and investors and the industry are coming out ahead. It is one of the few industries where consumers benefit directly from investments. The oil industry invests a lot as well, yet the product is always the same and the costs per liter have only gone up.

    • Peter

      I disagree, consumers are actually quite uneducated, they don’t understand investment is required to operate a company nationally, they just read headlines and accept them as facts. Consumers (like me) want the most for the least. Not gonna happen with the telcom industry. Now show me evidence that consumers are starting to wake up? If they were somehow revolting it would show in the quarterly statements of the big three. The last quarter showed the big three add more wireless subscribers. TELUS saw average revenue per user go up. I think what is happening now is a more honest and open conversation with consumers. If you cant afford these data rates then consider cutting back and using wifi, be more responsible, if you cant take ownership then shut it and pay the going rate. Also, If you want the latest and greatest device then it comes with a $70+ plan, otherwise you can opt for a lite smartphone and pay less or even buy your own and pay even less. More often than not, the allure of having the newest hottest device makes is too much for most and they accept the $70 plan. The consumer decides what they want to pay.

  • abc123

    A lot of people here complain about the Big 3, but are actually still with them whether it be wireless, cable, or internet.

    If you are serious about whipping the big 3 (and it’s flanker brands) into shape, you need to hit them where it hurts the most… their source of revenue.

    If you cannot end all ties with the big 3, then you should at least try to make compromises. For example, if you have cable, reduce the level of service. Drop that movie channel package and and VOD purchases and get Netflix. If you have Internet, do you really need 100Mbps? Every little bit helps.

    I’ve already dropped wireless and I’m with WIND. I’ve dropped my home phone and have gone VOIP. I’ve already dropped most of my cable services because I’ve got Netflix and a Roku. Have I suffered? Sure, I admit that I cannot flip through 100+ channels which I’m so used to doing, but then again, that’s all I’ve been doing. There is not much to watch on cable TV. You can get most TV shows on the Internet now…. with less commercials. Sometimes, I don’t get coverage in the mall, but then again, I’m not constantly using the phone. But the most important thing is the amount of money I save each month… Home phone used to cost me $27/month – now it’s $4/month. Cable and Internet used to cost me $190…. now it’s $120 and dropping. Wireless used to cost me about $170/month (2 lines), now it’s $80 for both lines with more minutes, data, everything else.

    check your options… go with a regional carrier if possible. At least try to make the big 3 suffer. Otherwise, they will just continue to gouge us.

    • Peter

      This is true, we don’t really need all these bells and whistles. For whatever reason we feel the need to have everything and then are surprised that we actually have to pay it. On the other hand, you are still dependant on the big three as the resellers pay the big three to use their networks and in turn they charge you. It comes down to making smart decisions and not crying every time a company charges more for their service, don’t like it? change something.

  • Kevin Ye

    $15 for 50 canada-wide minutes, unlimited SMS/MMS, voice mail, and caller ID. Can’t beat that! And who needs data? You can get Wi-Fi in almost anywhere now, unless you like travelling.

  • Ocean

    This article is almost, but not quite entirely going in the wrong direction. Reality is, the incumbents began raising their prices around 14 months ago when it was widely realised that most of the new entrants were experiencing serious financial difficulties. (The incumbents attacked them with their value brands.) Since most of us are unwilling to connect increasingly-important cell phone numbers to a potentially sinking ship (what happens to your number if they go bankrupt?), it presented an opportunity to begin gradually increasing plan costs without stalling growth. If you look back over the last year and compare plan prices to today, you will see that this has been an ongoing strategy.