Why are Canada’s cell phone rates so high? Don’t ask The New America Foundation

A new report by The New America Foundation shows what many Canadians already know: we pay a heck of a lot for cell phone service.

The report shows that Canada and the U.S. are the leaders of the pack in cell phone prices, and Canada is the highest when it comes to data and voice service pricing. The study looked at nine other countries in addition to Canada and the U.S., all of them in Asia and Northern Europe.

But tech website Digital Home looked at this study, and brought up some good points about its methods and validity. As they point out, the study only looked at Rogers’ mobile pricing in Canada, and is really comparing apples to oranges when they put jurisdictions like India and Hong Kong in the same conversation as Canada and the U.S.

It’s unclear how the findings would have been different had the authors used different plans from different companies with different usage patterns [other than Rogers alone]. Had they chosen heavy usage plans from each country, is it possible they may have arrived at significantly different conclusions?

In addition it’s unclear what question the report is trying to answer. It’s doubtful a country the size of Canada with just 35 million people could ever have wireless costs as low as small, heavily populated countries such as Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.

Is the insight that Canada has higher wireless rates than most countries meaningful or simply a geographic anomaly. Had the report also found that Canada had higher heating costs than most countries, would readers be surprised?

The devil is always in the details, and the details of this study show a deeply flawed methodology. Digital Home is right by suggesting that the real work lies in figuring out why Canada has such high phone rates. Is it public policy, corporate greed or are we simply victims of geography in Canada?

You can read the full study here.