Study Finds Data Prices Too High For Low-Income Canadians

A recent study commissioned by Manitoba consumer and Indigenous groups has found that current data prices being charged by wireless carriers are way too high for low-income Canadians (via Winnipeg Free Press). The research was carried out in response to a call for comments by CRTC, asking the big three carriers to submit proposals on offering affordable data plans.

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The new report argues that the telcos could still make money on data-only plans starting at $5 per month while suggesting substantially lower-cost plans than what Bell, Rogers and Telus proposed to the federal regulator. It points out that among the lowest-income group of Canadians, only 68.7% subscribe to mobile services compared to an average of 87.9% among the other groups.

The study is titled “Poor internet for poor people? Why Canada needs better and more affordable mobile services for everyone”, and has been prepared by Benjamin Klass and Dwayne Winseck for the Consumers’ Association of Canada and the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg.

The report states, “The CRTC flex plan that we are proposing is an elegant solution to the problem that the Commission is seeking to address in this proceeding, namely that people who need to access smaller amounts of mobile data cannot afford to do so at current market rates.”

Damon Johnston, president of the Aboriginal Council of Manitoba, is interested in this thought. “Now that there is better data to more effectively determine what it would cost to make these services more accessible across the board to all Canadians,” he said.

The report also highlighted that using the CRTC’s own costing data, carriers proposed “low-cost” plans feature a markup of between 255 to 350%.