Canadian national carriers Rogers, Bell and Telus have submitted proposals for the low-cost data-only plans recently requested by Canada’s telecom regulator.
The proposals shed light on each carrier’s interpretation of the CRTC’s March 22nd, 2018 decision that effectively denied Wi-Fi-first MVNOs from existing under the country’s current telecom infrastructure.
MVNOs operate by purchasing wholesale usage of another company’s wireless infrastructure, and then reselling the service at lower rates.
The CRTC’s March 22nd decision came as a result of innovation minister Navdeep Bains instructing the Commission to review its earlier ruling on the Sugar Mobile Wi-Fi-first MVNO.
The proposed plans vary in price, but each plan also offers unlimited data, talk and text over Wi-Fi.
The CRTC is currently accepting public comments on the Big Three’s plan proposals.
@Bell, @Rogers and @TELUS submitted their proposal regarding lower-cost data-only plans. Tell us what you think about them! Help us better understand your needs for lower-cost #wireless services. https://t.co/dOqGjdfW2G #crtcConsults pic.twitter.com/nDQcF8JvML
— CRTCeng (@CRTCeng) April 25, 2018
Rogers’ submission — $25/400MB
Rogers — Canada’s largest carrier by subscriber-share — proposed two “lower-cost data-only plans.”
Both the prepaid and postpaid plans provide subscribers with 400MB of 4G LTE data at the cost of $25 CAD. Rogers proposed to offer these plans on a month-to-month, BYOD basis.
The plan also offers subscribers free voice calls to 911 emergency services, as the plan itself doesn’t provide any talk-and-text features.
“Consistent with the Commission’s directions for data-only plans, incoming and outgoing voice calls and text messages will be unavailable, though customers will receive important text service messages from Rogers at no cost (e.g. notifications and alerts),” reads an excerpt from Rogers’ submission to the CRTC.
Users will also be notified once they’ve consumed 90 percent and 100 percent of their monthly data buckets.
According to Rogers’ submission, “the proposed plans, whether prepaid or postpaid, were designed to provide consumers with a lower cost option to connect to the internet and access the digital economy.”
Rogers also wrote that, since these are intended to be basic wireless plans, users won’t be able to access “extended domestic coverage” in parts of the country — like Saskatchewan, parts of Northern Ontario, parts of Northern Quebec, as well as parts of Canada’s east coast.
Subscribers also won’t be eligible to use the carrier’s Roam Like Home service.
In comparison, Rogers’ low-cost flanker brand Chatr mobile offers a base $40/1GB 3G plan that provides subscribers with unlimited Canada-wide talk and unlimited international text.
Bell’s submission — $30/500MB
Canada’s second-largest carrier Bell proposed a postpaid and prepaid plan that provides subscribers with 500MB of LTE data for $30 CAD.
Bell’s submission specified that the plan would be available through the Virgin Mobile flanker brand, but did not specifically state whether it would be BYOD only.
“Canadians seeking affordable wireless services will be well-served and market forces will continue to increase the options available and impose pricing discipline through intense competition,” said Bell, in its proposal to the CRTC “As a result, it is not necessary for the Commission to impose a price ceiling on lower-cost data-only wireless plans.”
Bell’s low-cost flanker brand Lucky Mobile also offers a $40/1GB 3G data plan, that provides subscribers with unlimited Canada-wide calls and unlimited Canada and international texts.
The Lucky Mobile plan also cordones off subscribers to a home zone-style network.
Telus’s submission — $30/500MB
Similar to Bell’s proposal, Canada’s third-largest carrier Telus proposed a month-to-month postpaid plan that would provide 500MB of LTE data for $30 CAD.
Telus’s submission also clearly states that the plan will be offered through its Koodo mid-tier flanker brand.
The proposed Koodo plan allows users to access pay-per-use voice and text services and a device subsidy for new devices that subscribers will have to pay off over time, if subscribers don’t bring their own devices. The ‘Tab Small’ device subsidy allows customers to pay off a device balance of up to $240 over two years.
Telus also proposed introducing a $30 CAD data-only plan through Public Mobile that would offer 600MB of 4G LTE data.
Interestingly enough, Telus’s proposal highlights that it’s currently the only national carrier that offers an existing in-market data-only plan.
Public Mobile — Telus’s low-cost flanker brand — currently offers an entry-level $35/600MB 4G LTE plan.
“Public Mobile data-only prepaid plans have been in market since 2015 and cover a wide spectrum of data allotment and price points at both 3G and 4G LTE network speeds,” wrote Telus, in their submission to the CRTC.
How the U.S. MVNO brands compare
It’s must be noted that the CRTC mandated these low-cost data-only plans as a kind of balm for denying Wi-Fi-first MVNO carriers.
As such, it’s important to compare some of the Wi-Fi-first MVNO plans that exist in the U.S. to these newly proposed data-only plans.
Project Fi — Mountain View-based search giant Google’s own Wi-Fi-first MVNO — offers users with a base $20-per-month talk-and-text plan that charges users $10/GB of data used. In effect, this means that subscribers only pay for the data they consume. If subscribers somehow don’t consume a single megabyte of data over the course of a month, they’re only charged $20 USD.
Google Fi’s plan also caps data charges at $60 USD, so even if users consume 20GB of data, they’ll only be charged $80 USD overall.
Other brands, like Consumer Cellular offers subscribers with lower-cost plans that provide users with talk, text and 250MB of data starting at $20 USD.
Update 26/04/2018 10:32am ET: Story updated with additional reporting.