Lower Cell Phone Rates on Tap for Some Canadian Consumers

Canada's four biggest wireless providers are expected to introduce lower rates for many consumers today.

James R. Hood
James R. Hood

President Biden's massive stack of initiatives intended to spur competition has grabbed headlines in the U.S., and Canadian consumers can expect some action on wireless telephone rates as well, according to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Canada's four biggest wireless operators – Bell, Rogers, Telus and SaskTel – are "expected to offer low-cost and occasional-use plans in most markets, as well as promote them on their websites, in person and over the phone" beginning today (July 14), the CRTC said.

The action is intended to ensure that Canadians – including seniors, low-income earners and those who use their mobile phone sparingly – can benefit from more affordable mobile plans.

"While there are encouraging signs that prices are trending downwards, we need to accelerate competition and more affordable options for Canadians. Equally important is ensuring that wireless providers continue to invest in their current networks and build out their 5G networks," said Ian Scott, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, CRTC.

"The competitive model we are introducing today will result in greater choice and cheaper mobile wireless services for Canadians, who rely on their smartphones now more than ever,” Scott said.

Besides ordering lower rates for some consumers, the agency announced in April that it would allow regional wireless providers to access the wireless networks of Canada’s dominant providers to offer Canadians more choice and affordable options.

That should enable regional providers to offer competitive services to millions of Canadians in areas where competition is limited.

Seamless roaming in Canada

The CRTC is also requiring that the national wireless carriers implement seamless roaming to help prevent dropped calls and data sessions when customers move from one network to another, especially during travel.

"We expect the introduction of occasional-use and low-cost options by national service providers, as well as SaskTel, to provide Canadians with more choices that suit their wireless needs and budgets,” Scott said.

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James R. Hood

Jim is a publishing entrepreneur and journalist. He founded ConsumerAffairs in 1998 and earlier was the founder of Zapnews, after holding executive posts at the Associated Press.