Recently, PC Magazine released its annual review of Canada’s fastest mobile networks. Unsurprisingly, The Big 3 telecom companies, Bell, Rogers, and Telus, were the fastest in the country. There is one problem though – their prices are amongst the highest in the world.
For a nationwide wireless plan with any of the Big 3, you will pay roughly $90/month. With their “discount” in-house brands, like Koodo or Fido, it will cost around $70/month. Statistics Canada recently announced that telecom costs jumped 7.6 percent compared to the same period last year.
How does this compare to the rest of the world? Sprint and T-Mobile in the United States are charging around $45/month for 2GB plans. In France, you get 20GB for just under $30/month. And in Britain, it costs slightly over $30/month for 4GB.
Why are Canadians paying triple the price for a fraction of the data? Because there is no competition. PC Magazine highlights a couple affordable options with equivalent service as the Big 3. There is Videotron in Quebec and Eastlink in Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland. They charge about $30/month less than the Big 3. These providers are making a strong impact, but unfortunately only in their local regions. That means that Canada’s largest urban centres in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta don’t have these options.
In 2008, the government attempted to create a fourth provider to create competition amongst the Big 3, but it failed. Public Mobile started in 2010 and it’s done for; Mobilicity is on its way out, and Wind can’t compete with the Big 3’s LTE speeds.
The main issue is clear: There is not enough competition. If you add more players to the game, everyone has to try a little harder to get noticed, and the way telecom providers get noticed is by lowering their prices.
That’s why the SWIFT project aims to create an open access fibre-optic network in Southwestern Ontario. The residents of the Southwest counties deserve affordable high speed Internet, and it can only be accomplished if there is a healthy level of competition between the service providers.