Big Canadian telecoms are scamming us big-time

Aug 8, 2016 | Opinion | 4 comments

It’s been confirmed time and again, and it’s still disconcerting: Canadians are paying some of the highest prices for some of the worst service actually offered, thanks to big Canadian telecoms.

P.S. This is an opinion piece.

Canada continues, year after year, to fall at the bottom of the pile in terms of services (call, text and data) and fees, according to the OECD. And we all know who the culprits are: big telecom companies like Rogers, Bell and Telus. Earlier this year, they even raised the prices due to an already fairly weak Canadian dollar (the loonie) taking a turn for the worst.

In high school we had a sort of beginners’ Finance class where they taught us the basics of offer and demand. Prices are hiked up when demand is high. This seems to be the plan big telecoms stick to. But prices can also be lowered when demand is high. And vice-versa: prices can be higher when demand is low (though that’s not the best incentive for people to buy!). The opposite can be true: prices can be lowered when demand is low.

When I lived in Korea, I experienced the “low prices, high demand” idea. Nearly everyone there owns a mobile phone, including kids who go from hagwon (after-school institution) to hagwon until 7pm to even midnight. There is a phone shop at nearly every 100 meters on high streets, and there is wireless internet nearly everywhere (including buses).

Take a look at this map which shows some detailed information: the price of 500mb across the world.

price of 500mb across the world

Source: Gizmodo. By the way, according to my research with the service provider I used while I was in Korea, unlimited calls & texts + 300mb of data in South Korea is priced at around $66 a month whereas unlimited calls & text + 2gb is around $76. So therefore, they want you to buy more for cheaper. Unprecedented!

Now here are two bills: to the left is my current Canadian bill from Fido, and to the right is one of my past bills in South Korea from The Arrival Store.

fido bill

Canada: This bill is for unlimited calls & text + 750mb. Luckily my phone has a little meter that actually turns off data if I get too close (700mb) to my limit, but when you compare this bill to the one on the right… well, needless to say, this sucks.

arrival store bill

South Korea: This bill is for unlimited calls & text & data. YES, UNLIMITED DATA ZOMG. Yes, I had data turned on all the time. Yes, I was a happy little cookie.

By the way, 1,000 won is roughly 1 dollar. So 82,315 wons is around $82.

In conclusion

I realize these bills are just a comparison between two countries. I realize that South Korea is one of the biggest embracers of technology and technological advancement, with the world’s fastest average internet connection speed. And it is a tiny country compared to Canada. And some are addicted to it. But you can’t deny that their government’s aggressive interest in expanding their network and their citizens’ use of broadband is nothing short of amazing.

It’s pretty much magical.

Why is Canada still falling so far behind other industrialized countries? We have 3 big telecoms, that’s why, and they consistently buy out smaller, cheaper companies that offer better deals. Many Canadians in more rural areas also don’t have any other choice than to go with the big telecoms, who also consistently put out false advertising claiming that their price models are not that bad. They’re definitely still putting their heads in the sand, obviously, ignoring the fact that their outdated, high-cost model belongs in the past when it was first implemented and already pretty stupid.

This is a country I love, but it is a country that’s being led by the balls by a monopoly that cares not for anything else but profit, and it’s high time for a change. Agreed? I know of at least one organization that tries to make that change happen (Open Media) but of course they (the Big 3) and the government are trying to push back.

Enough is enough, guys. This sucks and we’re an embarrassment to our “we are an industrialized country” mindset. No, we’re not, if we’re still stuck in the past. I do realize industrialization began a long time ago, but it’s still happening and we’re missing the bus.