Government wireless pricing update shows decreasing costs, inconsistent availability

The report shows that carriers met the $45/6GB price target in June, but those plans are no longer available

Telus, Rogers, Bell

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) released the latest quarter of wireless pricing information for plans ranging from 2GB to 6GB of data. In a news release, ISED notes that the majority of these plans have decreased between 9 and 25 percent compared to the benchmark prices collected in early 2020.

“Improving affordability, competition and innovation in wireless services is a priority for our government. While I’m encouraged by the decreasing prices for a majority of plans across Canada, there is still progress needed to meet our goal. We will continue working with service providers to ensure all Canadians have access to more affordable wireless services,” said Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne.

ISED published charts tracking plan prices for April, May and June 2021 and detailing the percent drop relative to the benchmark for the latest available month. According to the charts, most provinces have met the 25 percent plan reduction for 6GB plans, but that was based on promotional pricing that is no longer available.

The Ontario chart (above), for example, shows that Rogers’ Fido brand offered a $45/6GB plan in June 2021, meeting the 25 percent decrease goal from the 2020 benchmark of $60/6GB. However, at the time of writing, Fido offered Ontario residents a $45/3GB plan.

Granted, there’s also a $50/8GB option. Although cheaper than the $60/6GB benchmark plan, it’s also not tracked by the government. Likewise, both Telus’ Koodo and Bell’s Virgin Plus (formerly Virgin Mobile) currently offer $45/3GB and $50/8GB plans. Koodo, however, marked its plans as ‘Promotional.’ The Telus flanker also recently added a $5 SIM card charge to online orders, effectively increasing the initial cost of switching for customers not currently with Koodo.

Additionally, the chart shows that none of the carriers offered 4GB or 2GB plans during April, May and June. In the previous wireless price tracking report, Fido, Koodo and Virgin all offered $45/4GB plans, but those were above the $41.25 target price.

Charts for almost every province show the same pricing data.

2020 Benchmark

Once again, Quebec is the only exception. According to the Quebec chart, Fido, Koodo and Virgin all offered $40/6GB plans, beating the $45 target price set by the government and marking a 33 percent reduction from the $60/6GB benchmark.

However, the chart says that both Koodo and Virgin Plus offered the $40/4GB plans as promotional options. All three carriers no longer list the $40/4GB plans, replaced instead with $40/3GB plans that do not meet the targets and $45/8GB plans that are, frankly, good value but not within the bounds of plans monitored by the government.

The chart also shows that the carriers offered $40/4GB plans during the tracking months. Although the $40/4GB plan beats the government’s target price, the plans weren’t consistently available during those three months and are no longer listed on Fido, Koodo or Virgin’s websites.

Finally, the Quebec chart shows that in June, all three carriers offered $35/2GB plans, which met the government target. However, those plans are also no longer listed. The new CRTC-mandated $35/3GB plans now listed on each website only offer 3G data speeds, which means they don’t meet the government’s criteria for a $35/2GB 4G/LTE plan.

So, while plans have certainly come down in cost while the government has been tracking prices, plans that meet government targets are not consistently available to customers. So far, it seems most price decreases are tied to promotional offers. Even those that aren’t appear to change almost monthly.

It’s also worth pointing out that over the last month, Bell, Virgin, Rogers, Fido, Telus and Koodo all increased their connection fees from $45 to $50. The July connection fee increase came roughly nine months after the carriers raised the fee to $45. The government price tracker focuses on plan prices, which means it doesn’t account for other costs that could discourage customers from switching carriers.

You can view the plan price charts for each province here. You can also view previous reports at the below links:

Source: ISED