TELUS: Canada a “Success Story” By Not Having the Most Expensive Wireless Pricing

Dr. Michael Geist is a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law. Recently, he wrote about how the latest 2013 OECD report confirmed Canada’s wireless pricing is among the highest in the world. According to Geist:

Canada ranks among the most ten most expensive countries within the OECD in virtually every category and among the three most expensive countries for several standard data only plans.

TELUS Senior Vice President of Federal Government and Regulatory Affairs, Ted Woodhead, took to the company blog to respond to Geist’s claim. He argued “Canadian pricing is better than the U.S. in 12 of the 15 wireless pricing categories the [OECD] report looks at,” which is a better comparison opposed to other denser populations around the world. Woodhead makes the following statement about Canada’s wireless situation:

When you consider our enormous investment, challenging geography, sparse population and outstanding networks Canada really SHOULD be the most expensive country for wireless service in the OECD, but we’re not. That’s a great success story we should be celebrating.

Success, right? Geist begs to differ, as he calls this statement a “testament to how out-of-touch Canada’s incumbent wireless providers have become.”

Geist has responded to this TELUS blog post calling him out and further provides data from the OECD report which proves Canada’s wireless pricing, when compared to other carriers worldwide offering similar speeds, is indeed some of the highest in the world.

He goes on to say the following about the two charts pictured below:

This is the data provided by the OECD using Telus as representative of Canadian pricing: the 2nd most expensive of 7 countries for 1 GB of wireless data (at speeds Telus customers are likely to receive) and the second most expensive of 19 countries for 500 MB of wireless data for tablets (again at speeds Telus customers are likely to receive). Telus apparently believes the fact that we rank 18th out of 19th countries in this OECD sample is a great success story.  Based on recent comments, it does not appear the government shares that view.

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What methodology do you think is more accurate to compare Canada’s wireless pricing? It’s clear Ottawa wants to spur competition in Canada as carriers have recently started to adjust their plans to two year term pricing, a direct result of the new CRTC Wireless Code. With Verizon currently exploring its Canadian options, time will tell if Canadians will get a fourth national wireless carrier Ottawa so badly wants.