For mobile users in Canada the biggest news story of the week, perhaps the year, is a new decision by Canada’s Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to free users from carrier locks on their devices starting December 1st, 2017. Even better, effective this date new users who are unhappy with their carrier will be able to return their hardware and walk away at no cost, so long as they’ve used less than half of the data bucket on their monthly plan.
It’s not hard to see what the CRTC is trying to do here, to force Canada’s Big Three carriers to compete more honestly on the strength of their networks, and hopefully price. I don’t actually think that the price thing is going to play out like the CRTC wants it to; if recent history has taught us anything we know that carriers will always find a way to make up for lost revenue at the expense of their customers. In other words, come December 1st plan prices will almost certainly go up.
And while it’s probably out of the question for the CRTC to regulate plan prices, they could perhaps regulate data overages.
Currently our Wireless Code mandates that carriers notify a customers when their data overages reach $100, and the customer must give their express consent to go over that limit. The unfortunate fact about that is data overages have gotten so expensive in this country that it’s way too easy to reach the $100 threshold. I’ll use two currently desirable Big Three plans as examples.
If you hadn’t heard, Public Mobile is once again offering a promotion on their 90 day prepaid plan that effectively gives you 4 GB of data per month for $40. Since it’s a prepaid plan you won’t be dinged for extra data; you have to purchase it yourself in increments of 200 MB or 1 GB. But that extra 1 GB will cost you a whopping $30. On a $40 / 4 GB plan that just doesn’t make sense.
Or take Koodo’s Québec-only limited time offer of 6 GB for $49, available to anyone anywhere in Canada who’s willing to jump through a few extra hoops. If you go over that 6 GB data allotment Koodo will charge you $5 per additional 100 MB, or an even more egregious $50 per GB!
Three years ago the standard data overage charge was a mere $10 per GB; what else but a Big Three cash grab can explain the skyrocketing rates? We need an intervention to stop this madness, and I’m hoping that the CRTC is up for the task…