canadian phone companies

Canadian government orders big 3 phone companies to cut wireless rates by 25%

Rogers, Bell and Telus have been given two years — and not a day more — to drop the prices of their major cellphone plans by at least 25 per cent.

Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Navdeep Bains, announced on Thursday that the country's "Big Three" must cut their prices down from what the government has determined to be the current cost of several mid-range phone plans: $50 for two gigabytes of data, $55 for four gigabytes and $60 for six gigabytes.

This could save the average Canadian family up to $720 per year, by the government's calculations.

Should the country's leading telecoms fail to sufficiently drop their prices by 2022, there will be consequences — some that might actually jeopardize the monopoly they have on Canada's wireless market.

"Wireless services are no longer a luxury," said Bains in his announcement. "They are a critical necessity—for working, for learning at school and for engaging in modern society."

"We heard Canadians when they asked for more affordable options for their wireless services, and we have delivered," continued the minister, referencing one of the Liberal government's 2019 campaign promises.

"Canadians shouldn't have to choose between having a cellphone or heating their home. These new tools build on a number of initiatives we already set in place to help lower prices, improve access and ensure affordable, high-quality wireless services in every corner of our country."

Bains explained that the government intends to start looking at wireless prices quarterly, as opposed to yearly, in an effort to increase transparency and better track the rates of Bell Canada, Rogers Communications Canada and Telus Communications, specifically.

If the largest three national carriers don't meet their targets, the government says it "will take action with other regulatory tools to further increase competition and help reduce prices."

Bains suggested in an interview with Global News that these actions could include giving even more future spectrum than what is currently allotted away to smaller carriers.

"Spectrum is essential for companies to be able to grow, to provide data to consumers, to connect consumers. It's what makes a smartphone smart. So this is a very valuable resource and how we deploy that resource will enable the ability for companies to invest and grow going forward."

Meanwhile, the CRTC is continuing to work on its comprehensive Wireless Framework Review, which will address competition in the retail market, the mandating of wholesale access for mobile virtual network operators, and the future of mobile services in 5G. 

Lead photo by

Meghan Schiereck 

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