Canada’s wireless leaders form excessively lucrative oligopoly, reap world-high profits


It’s only been just recently that Canada has seen new wireless startups enter the market in a bid to stir the pot of healthy competition.

And our country be damned if we don’t need it—the Big Three, Bell, Rogers, and Telus, control over 95 percent of the market. On top of that, the Canadian carriers lead the world with the highest average revenue per user. These companies are earning nearly $55 per month from consumers, well above the $43 average for developed nations, and substantially higher than even America’s $49.

And it stems further yet. The Big Three’s earnings, before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, punched in at almost 47 percent, topping the world’s developed nations. The world average was a comparatively low 38 percent.

This might explain why Canada scored the lowest on penetration, which is the percentage of the population that subscribes to wireless services. At just 69 percent, Canada fell far below peer nations, which averaged well over 100 percent, meaning many consumers actually subscribe to multiple wireless accounts. Developing nations’ average was just three percentage points below Canada’s, which has the highest subscription rate to landline services—a sign Canadians are forced to stick with old technology because of price gouging.

Canadian carrier companies post low per-minute revenue, but other charges, including the notorious caller ID, voicemail and data “extras,” contribute to the country’s sky-high revenue per user.

Canada is also one of only three countries in the world where the industry standard is to charge for incoming calls (elsewhere, only outgoing calls are clocked for charged minutes).

The country’s hope lies in new carriers, such as Wind Mobile, Public Mobile, and Moblicity, all of whom have promised cheaper, simpler plans. But the Big Three don’t like it, and Rogers has lifted it’s foot with the new chatr service, hoping to bring its boot down on the newcomers with its own simplified, basic wireless plans.