Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s (ISED) 11th annual international telecom pricing study once again confirmed that the Great White North has among the highest mobile wireless prices in the world.
ISED gathered data from from Sydney, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Tokyo, as well as Boston, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Seattle in the U.S.
The federal department broke up mobile wireless into two distinct categories.
The first took six levels into account and focused on holistic wireless plan costs, including talk, text and data.
The second category considered three levels, and focused exclusively on mobile internet.
Additionally, though ISED compared Canada’s prices to seven other countries, the department also examined the cost of wireless services within Canada.
Prairies, Quebec have some of the lowest wireless prices in Canada
ISED first examined wireless prices for six different levels of service.
Level 1 consisted of plans that provide 150 voice minutes, with no text or data options.
The lowest recorded price was in Toronto, where subscribers could sign up for a basic 150-minute voice plan for an average of $24.98.
The highest average price was in Winnipeg, where subcribers could sign up for a $30.24 plan.
Level 1 pricing also dropped by 16 percent between 2017 and 2018.
Level 2 provided 450 voice minutes and 300 text messages.
Prices ranged from $36.71 in Regina to $42.39 in Halifax.
Level 2 pricing decreased from $40.95 in 2017 to $39.43 in 2018.
Level 3 was categorized by plans that provide 1,200 voice minutes, 300 text messages and 1GB of data usage per month.
The lowest average price, $45.91, was recorded in Montreal, while the highest average price, $83.67, was recorded in Vancouver.
Level 3 plans were essentially unchanged between 2017 and 2018, increasing from $70.70 to $70.99.
Level 4 plans provided unlimited nationwide talk and text, as well as 2GB of data per month.
The lowest Level 4 average price was in Winnipeg, $52.77, while the highest average price was in Halifax, $86.48.
Level 4 plans decreased in price from $81.61 to $75.44, between 2017 and 2018.
Level 5 plans provided unlimited nationwide talk and text, and 5GB of data.
The average Level 5 plan cost $87.32 in 2018.
Level 6 plans were shared plans with three phone lines and unlimited nationwide talk and text, as well as between 10GB to 49GB of data.
The lowest average Level 6 plan was in Winning, $123.60, while the highest plan was in Halifax, $280.81.
Level 6 plan pricing dropped from $264.65 in 2017 to $227.87 in 2018 — a 14 percent decrease.
Canada fares poorly in international pricing comparison
Canada had the second-highest Level 1 average price among the group of surveyed nations. The country’s $25.73 average was higher than the $15 global average.
Canada’s $39.49 Level 2 average price ranked second-highest and was higher than the global $22 average.
Canada’s $70.99 Level 3 average price ranked highest, and was significantly greater than the $36 global average.
Canada’s approximate $75 Level 4 average made sure that the country once again had the second-highest price, well above the $40 average.
At $87.32, Canada ranked third-highest in the Level 5 pricing competition, with the U.S.’s $98 and Japan’s $103 ranking second-highest and highest, respectively. The average Level 5 price was $55.
Finally, Canada had the highest Level 6 average price, with $223.32. The average Level 6 price was $138.
Canadian roaming prices can’t compete with the U.S.
ISED also looked at the cost of roaming in the U.S., compared to the cost of U.S. subscribers roaming in Canada.
The department found that U.S. national carriers included no-cost roaming to Canada.
Unlimited U.S. plans are priced between $70-per-month and $75-per-month.
Additionally, Canadian periodic roaming plans, like EasyRoam and Roam Like Home, average out to $115-per-month, while periodic U.S. roaming plans average out to $50.50-per-month.
Canadians enjoy fast, but costly mobile internet
ISED broke down mobile internet buckets into three categories.
Level 1 ranged between 2GB and 5GB, Level 2 ranged from 5GB to 10GB, while Level 3 consisted of more than 10GB-per-month.
Level 1 pricing decreased from $43.01 in 2017 to $38.28 in 2018.
British Columbia had the lowest Level 1 average price, $37.36, while Nova Scotia had the highest, $41.96.
Regional providers were on average 18.46 percent cheaper than the incumbents.
Level 2 pricing increased slightly from $60.79 to $61.90 between 2017 and 2018.
Saskatchewan had the lowest Level 2 pricing, $37.63, while most other provinces and territories had plans in the low $60 range.
Regional providers were on average 19.04 percent cheaper.
Level 3 prices also increased slightly, from $82.28 in 2017 to $83.35 in 2018.
Saskatchewan once again had the lowest Level 3 prices, $51.98, while most other provinces and territories had prices between $83 and $85.
Regional providers were 20.08 percent cheaper.
In terms of average global speed, Canada’s Level 1 91Mbps placed the country third, behind Italy with 123Mbps and Japan with 223Mbps.
Italy’s 103Mbps ranked third in Level 2 speed, while Canada’s 104Mbps ranked second and Japan’s 175Mbps came first.
Finally, Italy’s 87Mbps ranked third, Canada’s 112Mbps ranked second and Japan’s 225Mbps ranked first.
Canada consistently had the third-highest prices in all three categories.
At $38 for Level 1, Canada placed behind the U.S.’s $43 and Japan’s $70.
An average $62 Level 2 price meant Canada ranked behind the U.S. with $65 and Japan with $75.
Finally, with an average Level 3 price of $83, Canada placed behind the U.S.’s $87 and Japan’s $106.