Canada’s Wireless Prices Have Dropped 25% Since 2016, Says Study Backed by Rogers, Telus, Bell

CD Howe wireless price decline

On Wednesday, the C.D. Howe Institute released its Communiqué #3 from its ‘Crisis Working Group’, titled “Will Mandated Access to Infrastructure Jeopardize CRTC’s Ability to Balance Competition and New Investment?”.

In a nutshell, C.D. Howe says “cellular services have seen a 25 percent price drop over the past five years, a decline that aligns with Ottawa’s promised wireless rate cut.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government ran on a re-election platform touting it would drop wireless prices by 25%, but only for data buckets of 2GB to 6GB. So far, all we’ve received are period updates on price changes. 

C.D. Howe says the tracking of prices by Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada “may lack accuracy and validity,” as “accurately assessing prices across time and jurisdictions for telecommunications involves resolving differences across tiers for service and bundled pricing for a diversity of consumer profiles,” it explains.

Instead, the report says prices should be from Statistics Canada’s reporting, “which is methodologically robust and based on solid empirical work.” The conclusion from data based on the latter is “cellular services have seen a 25 percent decline from January 2016 to December 2020,” according to Canada’s consumer price index.

The C.D. Howe report was touted by wireless carriers, as numerous retweeted the study on Twitter (such as Rogers). But critics of the report were quick to chime in to doubt its claims.

For starters, the ‘Crisis Working Group’ consists of executives from telecoms such as Bell, Shaw, Telus and Rogers. C.D. Howe describes itself as “Canada’s leading independent, non-profit public policy research organization.”

Even the current ISED Minister, François-Philippe Champagne, touted the report as “great news”, which many disagreed with, such as consumer advocate and non-profit OpenMedia:

Earlier this month, Rogers announced it would acquire Shaw in a $26 billion deal still yet to be reviewed by regulators. The move would eliminate Freedom Mobile as a viable fourth wireless player and many have noted the merger would result in higher prices for consumers.

Have you seen your cellphone plans drop by 25% since 2016?

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