MONTREAL ― For years, Sweden-based tefficient’s annual reports on global wireless prices have been a headache for Canadian telcos, showing that our wireless providers make more money per user than telcos anywhere else.
Well, Big Telecom can breathe a sigh of relief, because Canada will no longer be appearing in tefficient’s rankings.
The principal reason? Delayed data from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the regulator tasked with enforcing telecom rules.
Watch: Here’s why Canadians’ cellphone bills are so insanely high. Story continues below.
“There are only two countries (of our covered 42) for which there’s not even full year 2018 data and that’s Canada and Switzerland,” tefficient founder Fredrik Jungermann said in an email to HuffPost Canada.
But Jungermann also suggested another reason: The big Canadian telecom providers’ aggressive campaign to throw shade on the results of studies like these.
“Another reason is the workload created when lobbyists try to shoot down the credibility of the whole report because they don’t like to see Canada presented as an outlier,” Jungermann told The Wire Report earlier this month. “We have no business in Canada and have, unlike lobbyists, no agenda.”
His comments sparked accusations from consumer activists that telecom “bullying” was behind the decision to drop Canada from the rankings, with OpenMedia executive director Laura Tribe calling it a sign of how “toxic” and “powerful” telco lobbying is.
That’s an assertion Jungermann says is exaggerated. He said he can see Canada being included again in the rankings, if the CRTC can deliver data on wireless speeds and prices in a more timely manner.
Tefficient’s decision to drop Canada from its rankings comes as the country was potentially poised to improve its performance. The big telcos’ introduction of unlimited data plans this year seems to be having an impact on usage and telcos’ bottom lines.
Rogers Communications warned Wednesday that its revenue growth will be much smaller than expected ― or even negative ― as a result of the popularity of its Rogers Infinite plan, which has seen one million sign-ups since the plan launched this summer.
Data usage on Rogers’ network is up 50 per cent since the change, the company said.
But “wireless prices are coming down just about everywhere,” said Michael Geist, the Canada Chair in e-commerce and internet law and the University of Ottawa, in a recent interview. He added that this might be happening to a lesser extent in Canada than elsewhere.
The cost of wireless was a campaign issue in the recent federal election, with some parties signalling some kind of support for policies to limit wireless prices, or price hikes.
Both the Liberals and the NDP suggested looking at caps on wireless rates, while the Greens said they would order the CRTC to force more competition into the wireless market.