Canadian wireless carriers offered big savings this weekend — but were they anything to OMG over?
'I think with this promo, a lot of people switched to a new carrier,' blogger says
Wireless providers in Canada are dialing up off-the-hook savings on data plans in some provinces and analysts say new competition is the reason why.
Bell, Rogers and Telus all offered plans with 10 gigabytes of mobile data for $60 per month between Friday and Monday, which Katy Anderson of OpenMedia says is a savings of up to 50 percent off what Canadians normally pay.
"It's good news, and definitely welcome news ahead of Christmas," the telecommunications advocate told B.C. Almanac guest host Dan Burritt.
She says the frenzy of price drops and price-matching over the weekend was kicked off when Freedom Mobile, a new entrant on the Canadian market owned by Shaw Communications, offered a 10-gigabyte plan costing $50 per month.
The larger, established networks quickly followed suit with all three offering $60 plans until Monday.
The plans were only available in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.
But how good is the deal really?
Anderson herself says she switched to one of the new plans this weekend, spending three hours on hold to speak to an agent.
And while she was willing to put in some precious time to save money, she says because Canada still has relatively little wireless competition compared to the rest of the world, it's not a great deal globally speaking.
"This 10 gigabyte shows that carriers can and should be offering lower prices to Canadians," she said.
"Forever, we've seen so, so high prices in Canada. You have Shaw offer this deal for $50, and all of a sudden, boom: Rogers, Telus and Bell have it within their capacity to lower prices."
However, she acknowledges Freedom's network quality isn't as good as the other three major players', which to her illustrates the challenges in setting up a competing network in this country.
And many Canadians were also asking themselves: with all these companies offering almost the exact same package, at almost the exact same price, at almost the exact same time, is this collusion?
If you want to know how net neutrality will work, talk to someone from Canada about how telecomm data works in a triopoly. Competition to keep prices down? No. Collusion to keep prices up? Yes. YOU DO NOT WANT THIS.—@NikaDragomira
The most recent research I've seen suggests it costs pennies to produce the data customers use. So even at $60/10GB, <a href="https://twitter.com/Rogers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Rogers</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/TELUS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TELUS</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/Bell?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Bell</a> are all making off like bandits. So, whats the true cost, & if there's no collusion, why are prices always the same?—@HijalDeSarkar
Gary Ng, who was blogging about the price drops on his website iPhoneinCanada.ca, says it's hard to say if it's collusion, but he leans towards not.
Instead, he says it's a little thing called "the wireless tango."
"I think the companies are just well aware of what each other is offering," he said, explaining that they are quick to match competitors' offers.
"These companies are getting feedback from customers: they speak to retention departments and they say, 'Telus, Rogers or Bell is offering this. If you can't match it, then I'm switching carriers,'" he said. "I think with this promo, a lot of people switched to a new carrier."
Ng feels in addition to more competition, the best way for Canadians to get cheaper wireless prices is to do lots of research and know what's out there.
If it's worth it to pay to get out of a contract, don't be afraid to switch carriers, he said, when on the phone with your carrier's retention's department.
Or, at least, don't be afraid to threaten to switch.
With files from CBC Radio One's B.C. Almanac