Wireless Competition

Some say Canadians are being charged too much for our cell phone plans 😯 I used to think the same 5 years ago, when Bell, Telus, and Rogers were the only options for most people. But not anymore 😉 Because today there are so many less expensive alternatives out there to choose from.

To compare, let’s look at what the “big 3″ are offering on their websites. (as of 10/14/13)

  • Bell offers $70/month for unlimited voice + 250MB data
  • Rogers has pretty much the same $70/month plan
  • Telus tries a different approach by breaking up their voice and data package, but with a $55 phone plan, and a 250MB data plan that costs $15, the total still comes to $70/month

Now let’s look at what some of the alternative wireless companies are offering. (as of 10/14/13)

  • Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS) offers a 1000 min voice + 1GB data plan for $55/month
  • The crown corporation SaskTel offers a comparable plan for $45/month
  • Public Mobile offers unlimited voice + data for $40/month
  • Wind Mobile also has unlimited voice + data for $40/month
  • Mobilicity has a similar package for $35/month or $55/month for upgrading to their 4G network

I’m sure there are other companies I’ve missed but in general it appears for a standard voice + data package, the smaller wireless players offer a 43% discount over the larger companies (~$40 vs ~$70.) 5 years ago when I got my first cell phone I paid $40/month, and that was talk only with limited minutes 😡 But today, I can get so much more for the same price! According to fellow PF blogger Stephen Weyman, even when it comes to add-on packages for traveling to the U.S., the smaller players offer better value. So I think prices have gone down, not up 😀 My current wireless package is only $20/month because I have no data plan, just unlimited talk + text.

So it’s a bit perplexing when I read reports like this one by J.D. Power and Associates that claim in 2013, 49% of Canadian wireless customers who have data packages pay on average $86/month, and the other 51% who do not have a data plan (oldschool people like me) pay $65/month. Good heavens! (;゚д゚) Who is still paying $65/month for just talk + text? No wonder people are so upset 🙁 But don’t get me wrong, I actually like it when consumers pay more 😉 Here’s a look at how our telecom sector’s average revenue per user compare with other countries.


As we can see, Canadian wireless companies are doing pretty well relatively speaking. And the reason I don’t have a problem with this is because I’m a shareholder of all 3 big telecom companies in Canada 😀 I’ve explained in the past why they make such great investments. On average the 3 stocks have returned over 10% since the beginning of this year 🙂 Double that of the TSX Composite Index.

Some say we need more wireless competitors like Verizon to come into Canada. I’m all for more competition and cheaper prices 🙂 But why aren’t more people taking advantage of the competition already here today? Why do the big 3 tel-cos still have 90% of the wireless market share?  Should the smaller companies market themselves more? In Vancouver at least, Mobilicity and Wind Mobile have already set up stores and kiosks in every major shopping center. Maybe they have reception service problems? Here’s a coverage map of Wind Mobile of the Greater Vancouver area.13-10-windcoverage

Personally I’m happy with the service I’m receiving from one of these smaller companies. The only time I don’t have reception is when I’m underground like getting off the Skytrain in downtown for instance. Some people tell me they got a really good deal with one of the big 3, like some promotional offer or something, so they decided to stick with them. Hey that’s terrific 😀 But a great deal doesn’t help to explain why the average monthly cell phone bill is $77 across the country 😕

I know some individuals require additional features with their plans. And some other folks live in remote areas that may not have access to alternative service providers. However for the majority of us who live in large cities like Vancouver, Winnipeg, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, etc, which is most Canadians, why are there so many people still paying over $40/month for basic talk+text+data? I don’t think it’s apathy because people are clearly upset about their high cell phone bills. I don’t think it’s ignorance because the smaller companies are often in the mainstream news, usually the subject of an acquisition target, so consumers must already know they exist. I don’t think it’s a lack of transparency in the market place. Anyone can visit their websites and compare plans and prices like we just did. Maybe other people’s experiences with small carriers aren’t as positive as mine 😐

Random Useless Fact: The difference between England, Great Britain, the UK, etcapq290D_700b_v2

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10/14/2013 9:22 am

Pretty much a consistent issue for those here in the States as well. There are many great, and cheaper, options for those with cell phones. Most of the low-cost carriers in the US actually utilize the same networks as the big boys and just rent bandwidth from them. Same coverage for half the price!

Steve @ The Silver Maple Leaf
Steve @ The Silver Maple Leaf
10/15/2013 8:18 am

I’ve been using 7/11 for the past 4 years and it’s been fantastic – price and quality. They piggyback on the Roger’s network so you are basically getting Roger’s but labelled as 7/11!

They are JUST about to change their mobile browsing plan to a data plan (which will most likely cost a little more money), but I’ve been using their $10/month unlimited mobile browsing for years. There are minor limitations, but I can access almost everything I need through it and it’s well worth it for $10 a month.

Anyways, they have some great packages too. Just google 7/11 Speakout Wireless!

Steve @ The Silver Maple Leaf
Steve @ The Silver Maple Leaf
10/16/2013 11:20 am

Update: 7/11 Speakout just recently changed their $10/month unlimited mobile browsing to a $10/100mb data plan.

Not as great as it was before.

I believe I will be shopping around for a new carrier!

Laurie @thefrugalfarmer
Laurie @thefrugalfarmer
10/16/2013 5:27 am

I just cannot spend that kind of cash on cell phone service. We have a pay-as-you-go plan. So far this year, even with the replacement of my phone that died, we’ve spent $200 on cell phone service, for the year. I know not everyone can go this route, but it works well for me.

save. spend. splurge.
10/16/2013 3:09 pm

I hate Bell Canada so much I won’t even consider them for anything any longer. They just make my life miserable these days.

My cellphone provider is now Virgin Mobile, which I have found to be very cheap and serviceable… Then again, I don’t need much, so 🙂

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