Competition Bureau Details How to Lower Wireless Prices for Canadians

Canada’s Competition Bureau has made its submission to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) review of wireless services, proposing what it believes will lower cellphone pricing in the country.

The Competition Bureau says “Canadians could save substantially on their wireless bills if Bell, Rogers and Telus were faced with more competition from regional carriers like Freedom Mobile and Videotron.”

According to the Bureau, Bell, Rogers and Telus “are able to charge higher prices in most of Canada, where they possess market power.”

Where regional competition is available from “wireless disruptors” such as Freedom and Videotron, “prices can be 35 to 40% lower,” says the Bureau.

The Competition Bureau says the CRTC should debut a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) policy. This would mean the ‘Big 3’ would sell temporary wholesale access to smaller regional carriers, increasing competition.

“This would spur additional price competition in the short term, while avoiding the risk of declining network quality in the long term,” explains the Competition Bureau.

Matthew Boswell, Commissioner of Competition, said in a statement, “Wireless prices are significantly lower in areas of Canada where strong regional carriers compete with established national players. We recommend that the CRTC introduce a policy that allows regional competitors to expand into new markets to ensure that all Canadians can benefit from lower prices, greater choice and more innovation in wireless services.”

Canada’s Liberal government promised as part of its re-election platform to lower wireless prices by 25 per cent. One unnamed telecom executive recently told Reuters they will be lobbying hard against any government policy to lower wireless pricing.

Recently, incumbents have been doling out extra data add-ons to customers for free or at significantly lower prices, in what some believe are moves to get ahead of any potential government policies. We’ve also seen wireless pricing simultaneously lowered on select wireless plans in Quebec by Rogers, Telus and Bell.

What do you think of the Competition Bureau’s idea of having the CRTC mandate an MVNO policy?

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