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Comparing the incumbents’ new 2-year plans, Part 2

In late July, we examined the incumbents’ new 2-year plans and found them to be significantly more expensive, even when adjusted for the lost 12 months of revenue, compared to their former 3-year offerings.

Now that all carriers have officially transitioned over to the new system, they seem to have taken the opportunity to mimic AT&T and Verizon in the US by offering shared data plans. At the same time, after an initial pushback, TELUS began offering lower-cost plans that do not integrate shared data; Rogers and Bell had already reworked theirs to offer two tiers.

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These prices are current as of August 26th; the bonus data offers may be removed in early September, but for all intents and purposes these are the back-to-school prices you’ll face when entering a retail store.

TELUS dropped the price of its 3GB, 6GB and 10GB plans from their initial highs in response to customer pressure. It appears that all three carriers have nearly identical base prices, and differ only on minutiae like bonus data.

Bell and Rogers’ 3GB plans seem to be the best deals at the moment, with 3GB of bonus data for the duration of the 2-year contract, for a total of 6GB, with unlimited national calling and messaging, plus voicemail and call display.
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You’ll also notice that all base plans are cheaper than their US counterparts, which was not the case when they were rolled out in late July or early August.

Bell also recently adopted a share plan schedule in response to Rogers and TELUS; their initial 2-year offering did not include shared data packages, and lacked the unlimited nationwide calling of their peers.

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In the lower price range, we can see that a 500MB plan is between $55 and $60, though Rogers offers unlimited nationwide calling and texting at that price point. Note that these lower-priced plans don’t benefit from the same $20/month discount for bring-your-own device as their shared data counterparts.

Bell and Rogers currently offer a 2GB plan (1GB + 1GB bonus) that comes with unlimited nationwide talk and text, for $75, which is pretty reasonable if shared data is of no interest. TELUS’ flex data schedule, which increases the base price after a user has reached specific data tiers, is not competitive at higher allotments.

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It would appear that prices have stabilized, and the artificially-inflated initial offerings have either come down in price or bonus data has been added to incentivize users to sign up. Instead of offering extended discounts, carriers are also taking different approaches; TELUS, for instance, is offering five free movies with every new signup or renewal on a 2-year plan.

This is one of the most competitive times of the year, when carriers are duking it out to win new business and renew existing ones. It’s worth noting that negotiation is always possible — encouraged, even — and mobility between providers is a lot easier now, and will become even more accessible once the Wireless Code takes shape. Shared data plans may sound more expensive up front, but couples or families can easily save money over current plans by pooling a single data pool and adding up to four extra lines, at a cost of $35 to $55 depending on the phone.

My uncle on Verizon, who until now has had his family on unlimited data in the States, recently switched his five-person home to a shared data package and saved quite a bit over paying for five individual plans.

Of course, it’s worth noting that WindMobilicity and Public Mobile are entertaining their own back-to-school offers, each of which severely undercuts anything the incumbents currently offer. If you can come to terms with slower speeds and reduced coverage areas, they’re well worth considering. The incumbents’ own subsidiaries, Fido, Koodo and Virgin, have their own promotions in place right now, though none of them are significantly cheaper at higher data allotments.

Suffice it to say, there is competition in Canada if you know where to look. Do your homework and find yourself the right deal for you and your family. It’s one thing to complain about higher prices; it’s another to put your money where your mouth is and do something about it.

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