Telecom Hell - The Woes of Living in Canada

Free healthcare, friendly people. It's what people think of when they hear the word "Canada". With 2017 being the 150th year since Confederation, I thought it might be appropriate to talk about the real problem in Canada, our version of health care: telecommunications.

Canada is a first world country, yet third world countries are ahead of us in this field. Take a look at Canadian telecom pricing and you'll quickly understand. We have very fast networks -- Canada was one of the first countries to adopt LTE and then, LTE-A. It also seems that we will be one of the first to adopt 5G, with a rollout scheduled for 2020.

Yet, our pricing. Oh, god, our pricing.

Oligopolies Galore

In Canada, the telecom sphere is dominated by three main companies: Rogers, Telus, and Bell. Canadians not-so-lovingly call these companies "Robellus". Each of these companies has their own sub-brand, targeted for value customers. These sub-brands, Fido, Koodo and Virgin, offer slightly discounted pricing and some perks.

So, in effect, most of the market in Canada is made up of these 3 companies. Freedom Mobile, previously known as WIND, was purchased by Shaw, a large telecommunications company servicing the west, bringing all our networks to be run by large companies.

So, logically, you may think, that these three companies might compete with one another?

WRONG!

Take a look at these screenshots, taken in August of 2017.

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So, as you can see from these screenshots, there is practically no competition. Even worse, the smaller brands are now throwing in gimmicks and inflating the price, with the addition of Fido's 5 hour free data nonsense.

Paying $105 for 2GB of data is absurd. What is borderline mental is the overage rate: $7/100MB, or, $70/GB.

The carriers, of course, are going for the long con: investing in fast networks with all that money, attempting to sell based on the speed, but giving very limited bandwidth. In Toronto, with an LTE-A phone, you can very easily hit 200Mbps. With that kind of speed, you can literally blow through your data cap in 80 seconds of usage. Nice. Then, of course, they charge you through the nose for overage.

So, what can we do about this?

Complacency

In Canada, the networks are regulated by the CRTC, who do very little to stop these kind of practices. The general consensus is that the CRTC is in the pocket of big-telco.

Another thing that the telecoms do is attempt to scare their customers into defending them. A few years ago, Verizon was expected to enter the Canadian market as an MVNO. As soon as the Big 3 became aware of this, they effectively ran a smear campaign against them, telling Canadians they would lose jobs and worsen the landscape if Verizon were to enter. It worked. Verizon lost interest and the rest is history.

The real problem here, of course, is the lack of government oversight. We need a strong CRTC, one that will stand up for consumers. I highly advise you to write to your MP and MPP if you can, and explain to them that Canadians pay the highest rates in the world for cellular.

When will the nickel and diming of Canadians stop? It's unclear, but we're slowly making progress. Hopefully, in a few years we will have unlimited data for all.