Canada still isn’t a world leader in cellular pricing in a comparison with five developed countries, despite having as many as six carriers and several wireless resellers fighting for business in several cities.
According to an annual consultant’s report for Industry Canada and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), mobile wireless prices are falling in this country.
But compared to Australia, France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the U.S. providers here still don’t offer the best prices.
The study, done by Wall Communications Inc., created two groups of services for wireless comparison. Within each group there several categories. Certain assumptions were made, including the price of currencies. Prices were collected earlier this year.
–The first group, voice-centric, had a voice only plan allowing 150 minutes; a plan with 450 voice minutes, 300 texts a month and two features; and a plan with 1,200 voice minutes, 300 texts and 1 GB of data.
Compared with equivalent plans in five other countries, Canadian prices were higher than average for the first and third plans, and in the middle for the second.
–The second group was data-centric and had two plans: One with 2 GB of data, the other with 5 GB.
Compared with the five other countries, Canadian monthly prices were higher than average for the 2 GB plans, and the highest for 5 GB plans ($64.67 a month on average for 5 GB of data. The lowest was Australia, where the average was almost half — $35.13 a month).
The study also looked at wireline broadband pricing and the pricing of bundled services (such as TV/Internet/wireless packages) as well. Wireline prices continue to go up.
“In general Canada remains middle of the pack in terms of how our telecom rates compare with five other surveyed countries,” Wall Communications president Gerry Wall said in a statement, “and that this relative positioning is consistent with our findings in previous years’ pricing studies.”
Industry Minister Christian Paradis was pleased with the numbers, noting in a statement that domestically “wireless prices have decreased 18 percent since 2008. This impressive decline shows that increased competition is keeping prices down while new technologies become available.”
He credited policies of the Harper government, including allowing foreign companies to buy carriers with less than 10 per cent of the market and setting aside wireless spectrum for new entrants.
“Our plan is working,” Paradis said in the statement. “Important progress has been made and Canadian families are seeing the benefits. The Harper Government will not let this progress be lost or undermined. We will continue. We will not hesitate to use any and every tool at our disposal to protect consumers and promote competition in every region of the country.”
Domestically the study compared the prices of bundles of services in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Regina and Vancouver.
In Toronto and Vancouver there’s no shortage of licenced carriers (Bell, Telus Corp., Rogers Communications Inc. along with startups Wind Mobile, Mobilicity and Public Mobile). There’s also six in Montreal. The study also added one virtual wireless operator, Primus Canada, which buys wireless space from Rogers and resells service under its own name.
Regina and Halifax each had three.
The study noted that new wireless entrants continue to offer mobile wireless prices that are significantly lower than those of the incumbents –39 per cent lower in the case of a package with 1,200 voice minutes compared to last year.
The price difference was less in the data plans, although, the study notes, the monthly data allowances offered by the new wireless entrants, on average, exceed those of the incumbents.
The study also notes there are differences between the countries studied. Overall, Canadian carriers offer faster advertised wireless data download speeds, reflecting in part the wider deployment of LTE here than in other countries. One way to interpret the study is that depending on the carrier Canadian subscribers get a faster bang for the buck than in the five other countries — assuming advertised speeds are close to real world speeds.