Industry-friendly regulation and laughably ineffective penalties

Through quiet collaboration, wealthy predators in Canada have used economic and political power to sustain unconscionable wireless profits. This will not change because those same vultures control much of Canada’s mainstream media. That means high prices and defective competition are not considered newsworthy.

We recently learned the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission imposed a $7.5 million penalty on Bell Canada for violation of the Telecommunications Act for interference with the business of Videotron, its main competitor in Quebec. CRTC determined the company had delayed Videotron’s network deployment and “created a competitive advantage for Bell Canada.”

Bell Canada is a segment of BCE Inc., which had annual revenues of $23.45 billion. The $7.5 million penalty represents 0.03% of its owners annual revenue.

According to Statistics Canada, the average industrial earnings in Canada for an individual was $58,790 in 2021. Based on an industrial worker’s revenue, to an individual, the penalty assessed Bell would be equivalent to $19.

Lack of competition, industry-friendly regulation and laughably ineffective penalties are the main reasons Canadians pay what we do for communication services, including internet and cell phones. Finland-based telecom research firm Rewheel concluded prices in the Canadian wireless market “continue to be the highest or among the highest in the world.”

  • During September 2021 the MIN monthly price for a 4G&5G smartphone plan with at least 1,000 mins, 10 Mbit/s and 100 gigabytes was 13x more expensive in Canada than in France.
  • The minimum monthly price for a smartphone plan that includes 20 gigabytes in Canada is the highest among 51 European, American, Asia Pacific, Middle East and African countries.
  • Like many other independent research studies (e.g., Wall, FCC, OECD), we have consistently shown the last 5 years that Canada has among the highest monthly/gigabyte prices. The root cause of the high Canadian wireless prices, as we shown in our 2019 study, is the fact that the Canadian wireless market is a de-facto network duopoly.
  • In light of the proposed acquisition of Shaw (Freedom Mobile) by Rogers, that would further concentrate retail market shares and most importantly consolidate probably beyond repair the network layer.
  • Absent of effective remedies, the merger will most likely significantly impede competition in the Canadian wireless market and result in higher prices and consumer harm.

This image shows Rewheel’s list of costs of 4G & 5G smartphone plans with at least 1,000 mins and 10 Mbit/s peak speed.

Since Rewheel’s report, the billionaire Shaw family encountered resistance to the sale of Freedom Mobile to the billionaire Rogers family. So, the Shaws looked elsewhere and decided to sell to the billionaire Peladeau family, which controls about one-quarter of cellular service in Quebec.

Canada has allowed a handful of super-rich to control most communication services in the country. For decades, sham competition has been maintained because of ineffective or non-existent regulation, despite regular promises that improvements were soon to occur.

Concerns about Canadian wireless costs have been expressed for years:

A study released earlier this year by the SeaBoard Group found average cellphone users in Canada pay 33% more for their wireless plans than their U.S. counterparts do, while heavy users pay 1.5 times as much. 

The Wireless Wars – 2007

Our policy to increase competition in the wireless sector is providing Canadians with more choices and access to the latest technology at lower prices.

Spokesman for Industry Minister James Moore – 2013

The Competition Bureau says greater wireless competition would not only lower prices, but also boost the Canadian economy…

Competition Bureau of Canada – 2014

Market power concerns persist in the Canadian wireless industry. When market power is exercised, prices are higher, and wireless penetration is lower, than in a market that is competitive.

Competition Bureau of Canada – 2018

The CRTC has once again refused to mandate the big telcos sell wholesale access to their wireless networks to fledgling rivals without towers of their own, a decision critics call a blow for competition and for Canadians fed up with big cellphone bills.

CBC – 2018

Consumer advocates say a rare consensus is forming among the major political parties ahead of the federal election that Canadians need protecting from gouging by the country’s big telecom companies.

Global News = 2019

The Liberal government is giving Canada’s big three national wireless providers two years to cut their basic prices for cellphone services by 25 per cent — and telling them it will step in to cut prices if they don’t comply.

CBC = 2020

Lower your prices or else, Trudeau tells big telecom at debate.

The Wire Report – 2021

The Canadian March 2021 wireless prices are among the highest in the world and 3 to 14x higher than French prices.

Categories: Economics

5 replies »

  1. These wealthy predators, big complicit media and their buddies in government are the cause of all our woes now, in our climate change struggle. What stupid people. They live in the same climate. The elite intelligent ones at work.


  2. Hmm V interesting, iF a lil depressing.. but not surprising, since Cdns are proving to be (mostly – i.e. say, 85%) gullible.. & heartless: ‘small-c’ conservatives who slavishly support the status quo & ‘speak out’ solely to denounce the activists fighting for a better world.. while our Govt. only WORSENS prospects, backing polluters/ profiteers instead of US (& lying about it!)

    At this rate, we’ll be tied to spending our last $$s propping up same-old (untenable) Govt subsidies of ecocidal, greedy industries.. til they go bankrupt, having overplayed their harms/ resisted change –> obsolescence.

    We can only hope to have the smarts to make the ‘Just Transition’ – fr. corp exploitation ETC –> Clean/ Equitable/ Fair-trade/ NonGMO/ Organic/ Renewable/ Vegan ETC.. & put billionaires & polluters (w. their plans to gouge us aLL) OUT. OF. BIZ.



    • Canadians were told during the days of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives that competition would be improved and Canada’s extreme cellular pricing would decline. After Trudeau took over in 2015, Liberals said the same thing.

      But Canada is still a world leader in mobile phone pricing. It’s almost as if the politicians were consciously deceitful.

      The industry explains that Canada is so large that high prices are a necessity. Yet look at coverage maps and it is primarily in densely populated urban regions, with large segments of the country having no land based wireless service.


Leave a reply but be on topic and civil.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s