The big three telecoms just raised their prices because they can

Rogers Wireless

Everybody in Canada hates the telecoms, and if they don’t, they probably live in Manitoba or Saskatchewan.

The reason Bell, Telus and Rogers can be the most hated companies in the country and still fuck over their customers on a regular basis is because their oligopoly protects them from competition. Hence: the Big 3 just raised their wireless costs by $5 in the last several weeks and there’s little any of us can do about it.

According to Mobile Syrup, who were first to draw attention to the price hike, the new baseline for smartphone plans is $60/month, with Bell upping its prices about a week ago to keep pace with previous increases by Rogers and Telus, because there’s absolutely no collusion in the wireless market ever.

It costs $80/month for only 500 MB of data on a new two-year contract, which is insane. How insane is it? Well, consider that in the two aforementioned prairie provinces, where price hikes have not been implemented, phone plans with 5 GB of monthly data start at only $65. Five gigs!

The reason for this seems clear: because both Saskatchewan and Manitoba have strong provincial telecoms — the government-owned SaskTel and the former crown corporation MTS — which can counteract or simply ignore the apparent price collusion that goes on elsewhere in Canada.

During last year’s failed bid by the federal government to entice U.S. wireless giant Verizon to enter the Canadian market, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada suggested Ottawa’s push for more competition might best be served by establishing a crown corporation to act as the fourth national carrier and help drive prices down for consumers. This was, of course, dismissed out of hand by the anti-union government. But if it works in Saskatchewan, there’s no reason it couldn’t work for the rest of the country.

Just imagine having 5 GB of data for only $65/month courtesy of Canada Wireless, as the union suggested the taxpayer-funded entity be called. Or imagine getting it through one of the Big 3, because in the face of true competition they would be forced to price their plans more reasonably.

Even without the government stepping in, we may yet get a fourth carrier in Canada. The Quebec-based Videotron surprised people when it bought some high-speed 700-megahertz spectrum during February’s wireless auction and looks set to expand into Alberta, Ontario and B.C. Whether this will drive prices down as dramatically as a Canada Wireless could have done remains to be seen, but something’s gotta give.

Or who knows, maybe the three-company oligopoly will just turn into a four-company oligopoly.

[Mobile Syrup | CBC][image: Jeffery Simpson/Flickr]

Bell, MTS, Rogers, SaskTel, telecom, Telus, Videotron, wireless