Canada Worse than 3rd World Countries when it comes to Mobile Data Access

Travesty of Canadian Mobile Carriers

The motto of the CRTC, Canada’s telcom regulator is “Communications in the Public Interest”. Right.

If you live in Canada, write to your MP. The CRTC, as an institution, needs to be taken out and shot.*

This chart charts the best rates available from all carriers. And all levels of government say that “ICT” competitiveness is key factor in Canada’s future economic
prosperity. Ya. Right. I would like to say that Canada is a 3rd world country when it comes to Mobile ICT, except you can clearly see from this chart that even *Rwanda* has orders of magnitude better Mobile Data service than Canada.

As I’ve noted in the chart, 500MB is about 100 minutes of usage at a Canadian Carrier’s maximum (advertised) download speed of 700kB/s (your mileage will vary, International carriers are typically twice or four times faster). 500MB is not a lot of data in the grand scheme of things, a few GB could make a better example but in that case the red bars would be completely off the charts.

If you don’t live in Canada but you or your small business depends on mobile connectivity or net neutrality in general, don’t come here.

If see these numbers makes you mad, then Digg this article and spread the word on your site.

(and leave a comment, what is mobile service like where you live? why do you think mobile data is important?)

Here is the complete data table including data speed and Caps for each of the services listed. You’ll notice Canadian carriers lag substantially in every category.

see also on this blog: Bell to charge you $3600 per hour for Wireless Internet access. (the situation has not changed in a while)

supporting links:
www.vodafone.co.nz/pricing_plans/broadband.jsp?st=ourserv…
www.t-mobile.com/shop/plans/default.aspx
powervision.sprint.com/mobilebroadband/plans/index.html
www.terracom.rw/services/internet/evdo/pricing.php
www.telstra.com.au/business/products/internetanddata/mobi…
www.telusmobility.com/on/business_solutions/connect_megab…
www.bell.ca/shop/en_CA_AB/Sme.Sol.Wireless.Internet.Plans…
www.fido.ca/portal/en/domore/options.shtml
www.shoprogers.com/business/wireless/plans_services/busin…

*not literally of course, we are Canadian after all. (the CRTC is the Canadian regulator for radio, television, and telecomumnications). Here’s the Canadian Telecommunications Act that governs the CRTC. I like parts 7 a, b and c.

UPDATE May 2010: While the situation (and competition) has improved significantly in Canada since this post was first published, according to OECD data Canadians still pay among the highest cell phone bills in the world.

UPDATE December2007: For ongoing and more up to date coverage of the Canadian wireless industry, data rates, carriers, spectrum auctions, and mobile startups, I recommend WirelessNorth.ca

  • Me

    Here’s what I think I know:

    Federal government employees get unlimited data for $34.95/month. Talk about a conflict of interest!

    Another tidbit: I understand Telus is actually “unable” to track data usage on their MIKE network, so it’s virtually unlimited at the lowest data plan ($25/4mb). I’ll best your ass they haven’t fixed this on purpose because the big companies using MIKE phones would scream if they started getting charged for what they were actually using. And THEN they would have to answer to OTHER big businesses.

    “Here’s your phone, sir. Please bend over.”

    Nevermind. Bell, Telus & Rogers say we already have enough competition in Canada.

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  • http://www.realestatetechnews.com/ Sapanjot Behar

    The Inukshuk network isn’t mobile. It runs on the cellular backbone, however the “portable” modem is anything but portable. You cannot use it while in a vehicle as the connection is not handed from one tower to another. It is geared more towards rural areas where it would cost the telcos to put in a wired high speed network. Even then it sucks.

  • http://www.realestatetechnews.com Sapanjot Behar

    The Inukshuk network isn’t mobile. It runs on the cellular backbone, however the “portable” modem is anything but portable. You cannot use it while in a vehicle as the connection is not handed from one tower to another. It is geared more towards rural areas where it would cost the telcos to put in a wired high speed network. Even then it sucks.

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  • http://www.littlefighter.biz/news.php Angello

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  • http://www.littlefighter.biz/news.php Angello

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  • http://blog.dekandustry.com/?f=cmmt Dchan

    No need for the iPhone here in Canada.

  • http://blog.dekandustry.com/?f=cmmt Dchan

    No need for the iPhone here in Canada.

  • Kevo

    I always love how Canadians who’ve never lived abroad try to explain our high wireless data costs by saying we’re a bigger country than US with less people to service the costs. I’ve lived in Australia and they have 10million less people than Canada and are just as big and if you look at what Telstra charges, it’s still less than Fido/Rogers. Businesses will charge what the market will bear. If it were a truly free market/free trade in Canada they’d let in international competitors and then we’ll see how Rogers/Fido deals with the situation. The fact is the executives at Cdn carriers know they have a good thing as long as they’re protected … and of course they know they’re not smart enough to deal with bigger and more innovative companies coming in (those companies didn’t get bigger and more successful from just government protection).

  • Kevo

    I always love how Canadians who’ve never lived abroad try to explain our high wireless data costs by saying we’re a bigger country than US with less people to service the costs. I’ve lived in Australia and they have 10million less people than Canada and are just as big and if you look at what Telstra charges, it’s still less than Fido/Rogers. Businesses will charge what the market will bear. If it were a truly free market/free trade in Canada they’d let in international competitors and then we’ll see how Rogers/Fido deals with the situation. The fact is the executives at Cdn carriers know they have a good thing as long as they’re protected … and of course they know they’re not smart enough to deal with bigger and more innovative companies coming in (those companies didn’t get bigger and more successful from just government protection).

  • Sol

    I’ve recently moved to the American south from Ottawa. I had always suspected that phone costs and service quality was quite different between our two countries. I subscribe to MetroPCS (a metro area only service provider) and get *unlimited* day and night minutes for a fixed monthly USD$52 (all fees included). This includes free long distance within the US, and unlimited text messages to both US and Canada, and 2cents a minute to call back home in either Ottawa or Toronto. It is true that the price difference is quite striking for all manner of things. Perhaps even more striking with the two dollars being almost at parity. I value the diversity and differences between our two nations but the cost of services and good shouldn’t be one of them.

  • Sol

    I’ve recently moved to the American south from Ottawa. I had always suspected that phone costs and service quality was quite different between our two countries. I subscribe to MetroPCS (a metro area only service provider) and get *unlimited* day and night minutes for a fixed monthly USD$52 (all fees included). This includes free long distance within the US, and unlimited text messages to both US and Canada, and 2cents a minute to call back home in either Ottawa or Toronto. It is true that the price difference is quite striking for all manner of things. Perhaps even more striking with the two dollars being almost at parity. I value the diversity and differences between our two nations but the cost of services and good shouldn’t be one of them.

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  • http://tangospeak.com/wordpress/ Caroline

    I’ve started up a petition to complain about lack of rate plans for the Deaf in Canada – we are forced to pay for voice/talk plans that we actually and physically cannot use. At all.

    CBC Montreal is getting in touch with me tomorrow to explore this topic further.

    Meanwhile, you can complain uselessly or hit the wireless carriers where it hurts – their pocketbooks. I suggest that for just one day every month, everybody shuts down their cellphone. Just for one day a month. I think the “deafening” silence of cellphones across the country will cost them dearly and make them realize that yes, we mere consumers, do have power to say no. Imagine their reaction if we did that. They’d be freaking out in their boardroom meetings.

    What do you all think? Can we collectively decide on one day every month like every first Tuesday of the month, we shut down our cellphones? And use it only if absolutely absolutely absolutely necessary? Like emergencies, as an example.

    Hmm….maybe I should start up a blog on just this topic alone – the One Day a Month Protest.

  • http://tangospeak.com/wordpress/ Caroline

    I’ve started up a petition to complain about lack of rate plans for the Deaf in Canada – we are forced to pay for voice/talk plans that we actually and physically cannot use. At all.

    CBC Montreal is getting in touch with me tomorrow to explore this topic further.

    Meanwhile, you can complain uselessly or hit the wireless carriers where it hurts – their pocketbooks. I suggest that for just one day every month, everybody shuts down their cellphone. Just for one day a month. I think the “deafening” silence of cellphones across the country will cost them dearly and make them realize that yes, we mere consumers, do have power to say no. Imagine their reaction if we did that. They’d be freaking out in their boardroom meetings.

    What do you all think? Can we collectively decide on one day every month like every first Tuesday of the month, we shut down our cellphones? And use it only if absolutely absolutely absolutely necessary? Like emergencies, as an example.

    Hmm….maybe I should start up a blog on just this topic alone – the One Day a Month Protest.

  • http://consumercurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2007/06/rogers-wireless-data-gouging.html RSMAC

    Just stumbled across this now. The iPhone is out and Canucks are bemoaning the fact that it hasn’t been released in Canada.

    Good thing, eh? (Sorry about that “eh”, I didn’t want to disappoint the American readers.)

    Rogers will be the carrier, or so the rumour goes, although it would be possible for Apple to make a hardware change to support other carriers’ networks.

    With the gouging that the Canadian carriers do for data, it’s a moot point, as the data plans as they stand now will be unaffordable for most people. Assuming you’ve got the bucks to cough up for the ultra-expensive iPhone, the data charges will push the total cost of ownership through the roof.

    As for the CRTC, don’t make me gag. I’ve had first hand experience with how they handle telephone solicitors and they don’t even enforce their own tariffs against telcos who let the solicitors violate the terms of the tariff at will.

    The CRTC is absolutely impotent. Don’t complain to them, complain to your MP about them.

  • http://consumercurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2007/06/rogers-wireless-data-gouging.html RSMAC

    Just stumbled across this now. The iPhone is out and Canucks are bemoaning the fact that it hasn’t been released in Canada.

    Good thing, eh? (Sorry about that “eh”, I didn’t want to disappoint the American readers.)

    Rogers will be the carrier, or so the rumour goes, although it would be possible for Apple to make a hardware change to support other carriers’ networks.

    With the gouging that the Canadian carriers do for data, it’s a moot point, as the data plans as they stand now will be unaffordable for most people. Assuming you’ve got the bucks to cough up for the ultra-expensive iPhone, the data charges will push the total cost of ownership through the roof.

    As for the CRTC, don’t make me gag. I’ve had first hand experience with how they handle telephone solicitors and they don’t even enforce their own tariffs against telcos who let the solicitors violate the terms of the tariff at will.

    The CRTC is absolutely impotent. Don’t complain to them, complain to your MP about them.

  • skedflyer

    I tried to complain to my mp, but this is the 3rd time I have been ignored by him.

  • skedflyer

    I tried to complain to my mp, but this is the 3rd time I have been ignored by him.

  • Ruth

    Shareem, I am with you. I am now shopping around for a U.S. carrier to switch to. It’s not only the data plans that are higher, all cell phone service plans are a rip off here. Rogers is simply a scam! The misrepresentation of service and what you will be liable for ought to be against the law.

    If you are with Rogers do NOT use their website to “add” on features. When you do you will be put on a higher priced buy out without being told! It used to be two hundred dollars a phone to buy out of their plan and as long as you do NOT add any features it will stay that way, if you do it’s now four hundred dollars and nowhere are you told this. Even when you call to add services they rarely mention it. I added on a few more minutes to my long distance plan and was automatically put on the higher priced buy out without being notified. I would NOT have changed my service in any way at all had I known as I wanted out of this so called “contract” or rather choke hold as soon as possible.

    This is not the only time I’ve had a similar situation with them and if you google this you will see many people complaining that they are very good a misrepresenting what they are selling you.

    High rates, terrible service and manipulating the facts to trap consumers into their plans. I’ve had enough of it. I am writing the CRTC and the newspapers here. And to the person who said we can solve this ourselves. I agree whole heartedly. However, I do not personally have the resources to do this. Rogers currently has all my money!

    I”m SERIOUSLY considering suing them. Next time I call them I am recording the call for “customer satisfaction” or some other reason and will catch them selling something and hiding the fact that I will end up being switched without my consent to another plan pricing. This is similar to “slamming” and is against the law for landline providers and ought to be illegal for wireless services too.

  • Ruth

    Shareem, I am with you. I am now shopping around for a U.S. carrier to switch to. It’s not only the data plans that are higher, all cell phone service plans are a rip off here. Rogers is simply a scam! The misrepresentation of service and what you will be liable for ought to be against the law.

    If you are with Rogers do NOT use their website to “add” on features. When you do you will be put on a higher priced buy out without being told! It used to be two hundred dollars a phone to buy out of their plan and as long as you do NOT add any features it will stay that way, if you do it’s now four hundred dollars and nowhere are you told this. Even when you call to add services they rarely mention it. I added on a few more minutes to my long distance plan and was automatically put on the higher priced buy out without being notified. I would NOT have changed my service in any way at all had I known as I wanted out of this so called “contract” or rather choke hold as soon as possible.

    This is not the only time I’ve had a similar situation with them and if you google this you will see many people complaining that they are very good a misrepresenting what they are selling you.

    High rates, terrible service and manipulating the facts to trap consumers into their plans. I’ve had enough of it. I am writing the CRTC and the newspapers here. And to the person who said we can solve this ourselves. I agree whole heartedly. However, I do not personally have the resources to do this. Rogers currently has all my money!

    I”m SERIOUSLY considering suing them. Next time I call them I am recording the call for “customer satisfaction” or some other reason and will catch them selling something and hiding the fact that I will end up being switched without my consent to another plan pricing. This is similar to “slamming” and is against the law for landline providers and ought to be illegal for wireless services too.

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  • Mehrdad Naderi

    I hate Canadian telecome corps more than anyone they have screwed me and my company out of $$$$$$$$ of dollars so far. But i must say, for the US residents that are commenting here please F off this is not your country to discuss. You dont’ understand the taxing system here and you refuse to learn it. We pay more taxes so we get more services like healthcare so when my dad has cancer he can get treated without us selling out home. #2 everything is more expensive and the reason is very simple, our salaries are very high in this country. Any average joe can make a good living here. #3. no we don’t need any American companies in Canada to suck up our wealth that is a ridiculous statement. and last of all yes the government should step in and change the laws governing the telecom companies. The CRTC is garbage and they should all be fired out of a cannon.

  • Mehrdad Naderi

    I hate Canadian telecome corps more than anyone they have screwed me and my company out of $$$$$$$$ of dollars so far. But i must say, for the US residents that are commenting here please F off this is not your country to discuss. You dont’ understand the taxing system here and you refuse to learn it. We pay more taxes so we get more services like healthcare so when my dad has cancer he can get treated without us selling out home. #2 everything is more expensive and the reason is very simple, our salaries are very high in this country. Any average joe can make a good living here. #3. no we don’t need any American companies in Canada to suck up our wealth that is a ridiculous statement. and last of all yes the government should step in and change the laws governing the telecom companies. The CRTC is garbage and they should all be fired out of a cannon.

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  • web3

    Cheaper now Yes, but theri back bones ??? Slow access to their towers, just borng…Lovely roaming fess in Europe from Aliant and Bell, I do name Aliant the “Alone Ant” once connected to the hub you are alone for sure. 1 MB of Data with Bell and Aliand cost me 50 Dollars of Roaming fees. Europe implemented a by law to not charge more than 2 Dollars per MB, also there is a bylaw in place not to charge more than 50ct per minute call received. So whats the mark up. 1000% and more. Alexander Graham Bell would turn in his grave if he would knew about this scam. Canadian Companies never do invest money to improver the services, none of all. You can start with Bell, Rogers, Alian, Starchoice, and so on. Please do not forget to add mid size companies too….Forget them, the less you need, the less they can rob you…a soul from Europe

  • web3

    Cheaper now Yes, but theri back bones ??? Slow access to their towers, just borng…Lovely roaming fess in Europe from Aliant and Bell, I do name Aliant the “Alone Ant” once connected to the hub you are alone for sure. 1 MB of Data with Bell and Aliand cost me 50 Dollars of Roaming fees. Europe implemented a by law to not charge more than 2 Dollars per MB, also there is a bylaw in place not to charge more than 50ct per minute call received. So whats the mark up. 1000% and more. Alexander Graham Bell would turn in his grave if he would knew about this scam. Canadian Companies never do invest money to improver the services, none of all. You can start with Bell, Rogers, Alian, Starchoice, and so on. Please do not forget to add mid size companies too….Forget them, the less you need, the less they can rob you…a soul from Europe

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  • Daleagraham

    Cellular phone companies are allowed to abuse people in Canada. The CRTC does not protect the interests of Canadians. CRTC is ineffective and out of control.
    Canadians need protection from CRTC.
    Dale A Graham
    Owen Sound, Ontario Canada

  • Ron

    The only point I disagree with is that Canada is a third world country. I recently returned from a trip to Rwanda and found their mobile services more flexible and more friendly than the offerings here. And they have only two providers, do it is not about the competition.