Canadians still paying some of the highest wireless rates in the world: ISED

Another year, another study -- and Canadians are still paying a lot


Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) has published its annual telecom price comparison study.

Put together by telecom digital media strategy organization Nordicity, the 10th annual Price Comparison Study of Telecommunications Services in Canada and Select Foreign Jurisdictions compiles and compares the various prices of telecom services in Canada and around the world.

Overall, the study once again confirmed a fear that many Canadians have vocalized: Canada’s telecom prices, including mobile wireless, mobile internet fixed broadband, and even bundle services, are some of the highest in the world.

Mobile wireless

Nordicity’s study focused on eight countries: Canada, U.S., Italy, Japan, Germany, U.K., France and Australia.

The report found that France, Italy, Australia and the UK were among the lowest priced wireless telephony markets, while Canadian rates were among the highest along with the U.S., Japan and Germany.

The study compared pricing by segmenting the types of mobile plans into six different tiers or levels, which are as follows:

  • Level 1: 150 minutes
  • Level 2: 450 minutes and 300 SMS
  • Level 3: 1,200 minutes, 300 SMS and 1GB of data
  • Level 4: Unlimited minutes, SMS and 2GB of data
  • Level 5: Unlimited minutes, SMS and 5GB of data
  • Level 6: Unlimited minutes, SMS and 10GB of data with three lines

Canada topped the charts as the most expensive nation for mid-level plans, coming in first place for levels 3, 4 and 5, which range from 1GB to 5GB of data. In the high and low tiers, it also remained in the top three.

Canada’s average prices at the lowest tier are $30.53, coming in second to the U.S.’s $36.31. Canada’s pricing is $22.71 more than Australia, which offers plans at that tier for an average of $7.82.

At the most data-heavy tier, level 6, Canada takes the second slot with $264.65 on average, just behind Germany’s $291.53. The country with the lowest rates at that tier is the UK with $91.42.

While Canada’s prices are undoubtedly high, averages have actually decreased for the lower tiers. At level 1, there’s been a significant 25.7 percent decrease, at level 2 there was a 16 percent decrease and at level 3 there was a 5.3 percent decrease.

Unfortunately, those declines weren’t enough to drastically change Canada’s standing as one of the most expensive places in the world to use wireless services. While the country managed to edge itself out of first place for level 1 service, it stayed at third for level 2 and jumped from second to first place for level 3.

Nationally, Nordicity studied six Canadian cities, applying the same six service levels. The results showed the lowest prices occur in provinces where there’s a strong regional player in the market to contend against Rogers, Bell and Telus.

Regina, Saskatchewan, where crown corporation Sasktel operates, was the most inexpensive city to purchase wireless telephony services in at levels 2, 4, 5 and 6. Montreal, Quebec – which is catered to by Videotron – had the lowest level 1 plans. Meanwhile, Winnipeg, Manitoba had the lowest level 3 plans. Manitoba no longer has a large independent fourth carrier after Bells’ acquisition of MTS, but the carrier’s unique plans are still having a competitive influence on the market.

Across all other segments, three cities rotated between having the highest prices: Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax.

Mobile wireless internet

Google Chrome

The report also looks at mobile wireless internet by itself, focusing on three main service levels. Level one consists of 2GB to less than 5GB, for which Canadians pay a monthly average of $43.01. Level 2 consists of 5GB to less than 10GB, for which Canadians pay an average of $60.79. Finally, level three consists of 10GB and more, which comes in at $82.28.

Canada topped the charts for level 1 and came in second place in level 2 and 3 to the U.S. Japan took third position for all three tiers, while the lowest-priced countries included Australia, France and the U.K.

Within Canada, Toronto and Winnipeg were the cities with the highest-priced mobile wireless internet, while Regina and Montreal offered the lowest prices.

Fixed broadband internet

Fiber Optic

It’s interesting to note that, in certain categories of internet speed, Canadian broadband internet prices are on the lower end of the spectrum.

In the 3 to 9Mbps range, for example, Canadians pay, on average, the second-least for their internet — $41.83. The only country that pays less is Italy, at $41.18.

However, it’s in the higher speed brackets that one starts to notice how much more Canadians pay.

In the 41 to 100Mbps range, Canadians pay the third-most, $82.54. That’s in comparison to Australia, which pays $89.98, and the U.S., which pays $114.81.

In the 100 to 1,000Mbps range, Canadians pay the second-most, $95.10. The only country that pays more for its ultra-high range broadband internet is the U.S., $145.15.

Bundled services

As cutting the cord becomes more and more common, subscribers purchasing services bundled together have become less common.

Still, Nordicity’s study included an analysis of the different prices that subscribers pay for bundled services, breaking down bundles into three categories.

In the first category — comprised of wireline telephone, wireless mobile phone and fixed broadband service — Canadians paid the most, $191.08.

In the second category — comprised of wireline, fixed broadband and television — Canadians paid the second-most, $120.99. Only subscribers in the U.S. — who paid an average of $138.41 — were charged more for this category of bundle.

Finally, in the third category — comprised of wireline, wireless, fixed broadband and television — Canadians paid the most, $199.19.

A brief note on the subject of methodology

In addition to Canada, the study analyzes telecom prices in the U.S., as well as Australia, Japan, the U.K., France, Germany and Italy.

It’s important to mention that the study examines telecom prices in six Canadian cities, four American cities, but only one city from the six other countries — typically the largest or most populous city in the country.

Nordicity says it gathered information by consulting telecom service provider websites for pricing information during April and May 2017, while also consulting with customer service representatives when the need arose. Nordicity also stated that it only used the lowest price available for any of the aforementioned categories.

Finally, Nordicity converted global prices into Canadian dollars, using the Bank of Canada’s May 2017 monthly average exchange rate to make the comparison.

Check out the full pricing study here.


  • Anonymous Agent

    No I find my Chatr plan monthly price to be reasonable for unlimited Canada & US calling, unlimited Global texting and picture messaging. And Unlimited data with caller ID, Voicemail and call forwarding for only $50 per month is just the perfect price. These other Carriers like Rogers (Fido) , Bell (Virgin) , Telus ( Koodo) charging over $100 per month for only 2 gb of data and only Canada wide calling and only Canada wide texting is yes just ridiculous for that huge amount. $50 is the sweet spot and for unlimited Data. Anything higher is just a rip off.

    • Will Maitner

      Please, Chatr lists the data at 3G speeds only and only for the first 2GB (then probably EDGE speeds), and their zones are as bad as Freedom/Wind.. No thank you..

    • Anonymous Agent

      Nope my plan is 6gb fast speed for 4g speed. And then slows down. But I’ve been with Chatr for a long time now and I’ve never been slowed down. Works fast all the time. And the network is perfect and excellent cause its using the Rogers network so you can’t compare the @rappy network to Freedom Mobile which isn’t even half as good as Chatr using the a Rogers network.

    • Tim3Tripp3r

      I have a grandfathered UMB plan with Robellus. I go thru huge amounts of data (3G), I do it as pay back on my part for all the peeps paying premium (crazy) prices for their data.

    • somebody else

      Have you topped 500 gigabytes or a terabyte yet? 😉

    • Tim3Tripp3r

      Nope. Although I think last month might be a new record for me – over 31GB. I’ll never complain about 3G data speeds (no LTE for me) with the above mentioned included in my UMB. I just take it for granted but sometimes forget when I’m on my other devices to keep track of what I’m doing (data wise) which could get expensive.

    • somebody else

      Yeah, nobody wants to go over on a limited usage plan.

    • Brandon Arneson

      Freedom mobile is a lot better now than they used to be. Chatr sucks because rogers restricts your max speeds to 3mbps for download and upload plus your charged roaming out of their fake zones, freedom mobile doesn’t limit your speed that you get for the full speed data they only do that for when your slowed down. And their everywhere plans give you unlimited data while roaming off the big3 anywhere in Canada

    • Anonymous Agent

      Stop lying Rogers doesn’t restrict the speeds at 3mbps. We get full speed very fast speed until our data bucket is used up then they slow you down just the same as freedom Mobile. But I’ve been using Chatr for a very long tim now and I’ve never been slowed down. The speeds are very fast. And again Chatr also offers Canada wide plans as well without zones. But I was able to use my Chatr service from Ottawa to Montreal and worked the entire time going there. And worked perfect at the cottage out of the zone as well.

    • Brandon Arneson

      You clearly don’t read the website properly because both Chatr and lucky mobiles website both state the speeds are 3mbps for download and upload. As far as zones go you’ll pay roaming fees if your on an in Zone plan and try to use it out of a zone. Rogers coverage is better in eastern Canada in western Canada they suck. Telus is better here than Rogers. Have fun with Chatr while I enjoy the better deal freedom mobile gives me. Try running a speedtest on Chatr and you’ll see how crappy your speed is. I know what I’m talking about I’ve seen other people deal with it

    • somebody else

      You do realise chat-r IS rogers, they don’t “use” roger’s network. I’m a freedom mobile customer, and damn appreciative about it. No problems, unlike what you’ve made up.

    • Brandon Arneson

      I am on Freedom Mobiles Everywhere50 plan and i live in Edmonton Alberta, they also have coverage in 7 cities outside of Edmonton, plus my plan gives me free roaming on the big3 and guess what my data is throttled once i pass a full speed allotment of 11GB on freedoms 3G/LTE networks or 1GB when roaming in canada or the USA and my use is unlimited. I pay $60 per month and thats with freedoms $10 3GB full speed data addon which turns 8gb to 11gb. My speeds are not limited to 3mbps for download or upload like Chatr and bells new carrier Lucky Mobile and theres a huge advantage of being with Freedom over Chatr, they cant change stuff on you and they will never get rid of unlimited data or apply zone restrictions to it if your on an Everywhere plan, their new everywhere plans are called Everywhere Canada plans but they only have canada roaming where as the plan im on includes US Roaming. Chatr and Lucky are the worst, Freedom is way better

    • It’s Me

      At least with Wind/Freedom, the zones were not their choice, but a physical reality. Chatr is for anyone that swallow faux zones. Can’t understand why anyone would choose to pay for fake roaming. Seems dimwitted to choose Chatr.

      $49 for 6GB (8 GB for 2 years) with Koodo and the data is good all across Canada, no fake zones. Yes, you have to use the Quebec plan, but still better than choosing fake roaming fees with zones.

    • Brandon Arneson

      did u not read my comment? the roaming is free on their everywhere plans that means no roaming charges outside freedoms zones,chatr doesnt give u that option its 40 cents for everything out of a zone or you have no service where the weak rogers network doesnt reach in alberta.

    • It’s Me

      My comment wasn’t really directed towards freedom zones, other than to say that their zones aren’t faux zones created only to charge fake roaming charges. To be honest, I’m not sure what freedoms current roaming state is, but wasn’t really commenting on that.

      My comment was really about how chatr is for people that aren’t super bright (or never leave their home so fake roaming charges aren’t an issue).

    • Brandon Arneson

      well i just told u that freedom has everywhere plans to cover roaming for free, they have had them for quite a while now,ever since they first changed their plans back when they were wind in april 2016, i have been lucky to have free roaming included with my service across canada since may2015 with the alberta only cross canada 49 plan that was offered at that time. Roaming charges arent really fake and i dont understand why chatr has them when you use the rogers network it seems stupid, freedom on the other hand i can understand but i will only ever switch to a plan if it has roaming included in it and right now every single plan has it except the home only plans, i am not gonna lose my everywhere50 plan just to get more than 11gb of high speed data that i pay $10 extra. i can actually use my phone in the USA if i ever go there with my current plan, i use canada roaming more but its nice to have usa included if i ever need it.As far as chatr and data use goes they still have plans with no data, so does bell’s lucky mobile but the difference is lucky mobile u can pay extra to get a service pass to cover u outside their zones,its unclear how your features work and whether data is limited because it doesnt say anything about overage charges out of a zone but im not switching from freedom, i have the best deal they ever had

    • It’s Me

      Chatr roaming charges are fake because your aren’t roaming. They created zones so they could charge real money for fake roaming.

    • Brandon Arneson

      Bell did the same thing with lucky mobile except they make u pay more for service out of the zones. It doesn’t make sense I agree with you

    • somebody else

      chat-r is rogers.

    • Brandon Arneson

      I am on Freedom Mobiles Everywhere50 plan and i live in Edmonton Alberta, they also have coverage in 7 cities outside of Edmonton, plus my plan gives me free roaming on the big3 and guess what my data is throttled once i pass a full speed allotment of 11GB on freedoms 3G/LTE networks or 1GB when roaming in canada or the USA and my use is unlimited anywhere in canada or the USA, theres no zone restrictions. I do not like what Chatr does, they throttle your speeds to 3mbps even when u pay for full speed data, freedom doesnt do that and u get fast LTE that is running on Band66 which is the fastest but its also launched on band4 in some places and band7 will rollout to some areas followed by band13

  • Ricky Bobby

    Regina and Montreal paid the lowest prices….. gee I wonder why!

    Maybe the ISED can conduct a study on that instead of wasting more taxpayer money?

  • MoYeung

    Duh, why would this regime want to change?

  • Chris

    Title FTFY: Canadian Telco Corps among the Greediest in the World

  • Carolina

    and to think these greedy pigs are trying to challenge net neutrality.

    • Can’t Fix Stupid

      Highest rates, highest complaints but least amount of action.

  • Cody Williams

    While I am 100% against the big 3, you simply can not – and will never – compete with rates from small condensed countries. Geography plays a HUGE role in costs. The more towers the more infrastructure costs. The more infrastructure costs the more the bill has to be to cover those costs. To see the difference, simply look at Freedom Mobile rates compared to the big 3. Why? Because Freedom only services populated zones. This is the same concept when it comes to small countries. The big 3 CAN offer low prices… but then would have to dump all the rural towers that don’t serve the majority. Think of the 80/20 rule of life since it applies here as well. 80% of population can be covered with the first 20% of cost. Get rid of trying to service that last 20% and your costs would go down 80%.

    Now having said that, I think the rates that the big 3 are freaking crazy. Luckily, I have the $45 Fido BYOD rate for unlimited + 4 gigs data. For those who want something like that, go to Public Mobile. The cheaper rates are out there, you just have to BUY your device first.

    • David

      It’s a fair argument to say population density plays a role and one that the big three often cite (remember when a Telus executive said we’re getting a deal in Canada and should be paying MORE for wireless?).

      But let’s look at our closest twin when it comes to geography, population and economics such as power of acquisition. Australia has the same infrastructure challenges we do. They too have to cover large spans of unforgiving territory but they still maintain a competitive wireless sector with world class quality networks for a much more affordable price. How do they do it and still achieve a healthy return on investment?

    • fred

      Not only Australia, but Scandinavian countries also have much better deals with similar population density.

      I would also bet that a country like the UK or France has more towers than Canada. Don’t forget most of Canada has no signal at all, from any carrier.

    • KiwiBri


    • It’s Me

      We’re a big country but our modern network coverage is in reality a very small number of relatively small pockets along a very narrow band of land.

      In fact, the regions with the lowest prices are the lowest density and most rural communities. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, northern Ontario (tbaytel). Our world leading rates are not generally related to the size of the country, since the vast majority of the land mass has little to no modern network. It is almost entirely a measure of lack of competition…i.e. see MB, SK and TB…low density and rural, but cheaper because competition.

  • heynow00

    Are these all listed in Canadian dollar?

  • Warren Chang

    Could have told you this without the study. They were better off coming to MobileSyrup’s comments section for this conclusion and saved themselves thousands of dollars in funding and hundreds of man hours in data analysis

  • Maxime Pare

    The reason is simple, geography… We have one of the biggest country in the world combine with a low population of 35 million something like that… The amount of cell towers required to cover such area with so little people paying for it is the reason…

  • Mat Lalonde

    I was always told the rate plans are more expensive, but we get a greater discount on phone with a contrat is that true? We need the same article with contracts and discount on phones.

    • Victor Creed

      Nope. That’s not true either.

      US frequently sees BOGO deals on the newest premium handsets.

  • somebody else

    So glad I stayed with freedom mobile. It’s been eight great years, and I will never go back to the carrier I was previously with. No bloody overages to deal with. 😉

    • Wu Lu

      Not an option if you have an iPhone and want to enjoy LTE speeds though… except if you are in Ottawa.

    • somebody else

      iPhone 8 and 10 support band 66 for the GTHA and bands 4, 7 coming spring, band 17 elsewhere depending (based on information already available).

  • basesloadedwalk

    If you compare actual coverage maps between the USA and Canada, then Canada actually covers less square miles than the carriers in the USA. So this argument that it’s because of Canada’s large geographical area to blame is hogwash, and an excuse the big 3 love to go into their bag for all the time. 90% of Canadians live in a combined area less than the size of France.

    • wapitifauve

      Let’s take the biggest country in the world for a comparison: Russia.

      600 Rubles (CA$ 13.16) on carrier Megafon will get you unlimited WhatsApp, Viber, ТамТам, eMotion, ВКонтакте, Oдноклассники and Facebook (I guess net neutrality is not a thing there) + 12 GB of data for everything else and 500 minutes for calls.

      I was in France this summer and paid 15€99 for Unlimited Call & Text, 100 GB of data in France + a 25 GB monthly roaming quota throughout Europe, USA, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Israël, Mexico and New-Zealand.

  • whatever95

    It’s complete theft. I went to France and got a SIM card, unlimited minutes, unlimited SMS & 7 GB of data for 20 euros per month.