Wireless Data Overage Fees Now Exceed Roaming Revenues in Canada: CRTC


University of Ottawa law professor, Michael Geist, has shed some insight on the recent CRTC 2017 Communications Monitoring Report, which detailed the state of communications services in Canada.

The top five broadcasting and telecommunications groups/entities, which consist of Bell Canada, Quebecor, Rogers, Telus and Shaw/Corus, together combined to account for 83% of total industry revenues in 2016, a “slight increase” compared to 2015 and 2014 data.

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In Geist’s article, titled in part, Canada’s Billion Dollar Wireless Cash Grab, he shares how the CRTC report concludes wireless users continue to go over their data buckets, leading to excessive data overages:

Digging further into the data, the CRTC provides insight into an oft-overlooked source of revenue for the carriers: overage charges, which represent an ongoing source of frustration for many consumers. While many carriers have unlimited broadband plans, unlimited wireless plans are rare, leaving subscribers to carefully monitor their data usage. Based on the CRTC data, however, many find themselves exceeding their monthly cap fairly regularly as data overage charges constitute 6 per cent of total retail wireless revenues.

The passage from the CRTC report is below:

In 2016, of companies that reported data overage charges, approximately 6.0% of their total retail mobile revenues were reported to be directly from revenues collected from subscribers who exceeded allowable monthly data limits; the revenues excluded charges for flex-type plans, domestic and international roaming, and text messaging services.

In other words, Geist writes:

Canadian wireless carriers make more money from overage charges than from either long distance fees or roaming costs. In fact, with total data revenues at $11.9 billion, about 1 of every 10 dollars earned from data stems from overage charges.

The CRTC report also notes Canadians paid $100 million in broadband Internet overages, or about 1 per cent of residential Internet service revenues.

This summer, Rogers and Bell increased data overage prices for new customers by 40 per cent, now charged at $7 per 100MB, or $70 per 1GB.

Canada’s wireless carriers do not favour unlimited data plans like their counterparts in the United States. Rogers previously said “it just isn’t feasible to offer unlimited plans,” while Bell stated there are “tremendous costs” associated with maintaining high speed networks.

The bottom line is unlimited plans will most likely never come to Canada and users will continue to use data sparingly, to avoid costly overages. How often do you go over your wireless data and home Internet data limits?


  • FragilityG4

    I don’t go over. I use a data counting app and if I get close I turn off the cellular as I have wifi at work and home. No need to give them more cash. Just try and buy your phones outright and keep your old plans.

  • SV650

    It is a balancing act. For many consumers, the overage cost may still be less, on an annualized basis, than stepping up to the next level plan, or in some cases buying an additional data bucket. There are some, though who could take advantage of add on data packages, but do not.

  • mcfilmmakers

    Lol going over broadband caps? What?! Unlimited broadband exists and is offered by all isps. The law should require any overage to be an automatic change of service into the unlimited tier.

  • Edward Quinn

    I’d like to know, how the Telecoms measure the data that a phone uses. For approx. 10 yrs. I never went over 1 gb/mth. Suddenly, earlier this year, I started getting notifications that I was going over. My usage habits had not changed at all. Now I have an app that monitors data usage and as a result, I have my data off, for at least half of my monthly cycle. Ridiculous that I just have to trust Rogers data numbers on my phone.

  • David

    Will the day ever come where if you don’t use all your data in a month, it will roll over to the next month? We’re paying for the data anyways. My feeling is that if data rolled over, you can only have a maximum of your current data plan in your roll over.