Canadian Telcos Raising Their Wireless Prices to Spite CRTC’s New Consumer-friendly Rules

Canadian consumers rejoiced in June when the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission unveiled a new wireless code that brings cellphone contract lengths down from three years to two, includes a maximum overcharge for data of $50 per month, and a maximum overcharge for international roaming at $100 per month.

But there apparently isn’t much to celebrate anymore.

Rogers, Telus, and Bell are among a group of wireless carriers in Canada who are not happy with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s new code of conduct, which was created to make the industry fairer to consumers. Earlier this month the carriers argued that the CRTC’s code, particularly its “retrospective application,” will damage them financially and that the code may even been illegal in some respects – now they’ve taken it into their own hands to protect their corporate wallets.

Carriers such as Telus and Bell are introducing new two-year contracts that have substantially higher monthly rates – up to $20 monthly premiums for smartphones – that negate any benefit customers may have derived from the shorter contract.

“The wireless code addresses the main frustrations that Canadians shared with the CRTC, which included the length of wireless contracts, cancellation fees, roaming charges and other industry practices,” said the CRTC last month. But did the national regulator count for Telus creating plans that cost up to $150 per month on two-year terms?

OpenMedia Communications Manager Lindsey Pinto saw this travesty coming. “Canadians will never get the choice and affordability we deserve when just three companies control up to 94 percent of the market,” she explains.

Canadians already pay among the highest prices for wireless service in the industrialized world without these steep price hikes. A recent report found the average monthly cell phone bill in Canada topped $77 at the start of 2013, up nine dollars from $68 in 2012—an increase of 13%, or 13 times the rate of inflation.

Photo: Canadian Press