CRTC says Big Three carriers will offer lower-cost, data-only wireless plans within 90 days

CRTC logo on wall

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has announced that Canada’s Big Three carriers, including Bell, Rogers and Telus, will offer “innovative and affordable options for mobile wireless services.”

A December 17th, 2018 press release states that Bell, Rogers and Telus have “committed to offer” a range of lower-cost data-only mobile wireless plans in the next 90 days, or by the end of March. It notes that the carriers must report back to the CRTC every six months with information on these low-cost data-only plans, including consumer demand and marketing efforts.

The release added that plans will range “from as low as” $15 CAD for 250MB to $30 for 1GB of monthly data, and that includes a mix of prepaid and postpaid options on 3G and LTE networks.

“Canadians deserve to have access to a wide range of mobile wireless plans in the market. While the new lower-cost data-only plans represent a step in the right direction and provide more choice for Canadians, we remain concerned by the overall condition of the market,” said the CRTC’s Chairman Ian Scott in the release. “To this end, the review we will launch next year will look at the state of mobile wireless competition more broadly.”

In March, the CRTC announced that there was a gap in the wireless market for lower-cost data-only plans and launched a Hearing that involved the Big Three, research groups, and wireless services advocates.

Plans are set to be in place until early 2019 when the CRTC has announced it will review mobile wireless services. This review will “examine whether further action is required to improve the choice and affordability of mobile wireless services for Canadians, among other issues,” said the CRTC.

In September, Canada’s three major carriers proposed a collection of new plans in response to the CRTC’s request for additional information.

The request outlined a number of questions, including whether or not carriers would be open to proposing alternative low-cost, data-plans, in the wake of concerns raised by a number of Canadian consumer advocacy groups.

At that time, Rogers proposed eight new plans, Bell put forward three new plans and Telus outlined two new plans.

Freedom Mobile launched plans in July

Shortly after consultations happened in June, Freedom Mobile launched its affordable wireless services plan.

The carrier introduced two new plans; a 250MB plan that starts at $15 per month and a 1GB plan starting at $25 per month. The new plans are $5 extra if customers do not set up AutoPay online which grants them a newly introduced ‘Digital Discount.’

“Too many Canadians cannot afford wireless services because it is simply too expensive for their monthly budget — their exclusion is contributing to a growing digital divide. Canadians want access to more high-speed data at a fair price, they don’t want to be penalized for using too much, and they want to clearly understand what they’re paying for,” said Paul McAleese, president of wireless at Shaw in a press statement.

“With innovative plans, like our Big Gig offers, we have demonstrated to Canadians that they can expect more from Freedom Mobile. Canadians deserve better from their wireless provider, and we are committed to delivering for them.”