Canadians Screwed On Mobile Roaming Fees…. Shock, Not…

Here’s something that will not come as a shock to Canadian cell phone users. We’re being screwed by cell phone companies when it comes to roaming fees:

Canadians travelling abroad paid an average of $24.06 to use one megabyte of data in a single day if they were Bell and Rogers subscribers during the study period last fall. That’s 2.6 times the OECD average of $9.27, according to the report released Wednesday.

One megabyte is equivalent to the amount of data needed to send 10 photos, the report said.

The OECD compared advertised mobile data roaming offers from the two largest operators in each of the 34 OECD countries between Sept. 7 to Oct. 7, 2010. According to the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, Rogers was the wireless company with the biggest market share in 2010, with 9.0 million subscribers, followed by Bell and its affiliates with 7.2 million.

Roaming charges were second-highest in the U.S. ($21.58) and Mexico ($19.42) and lowest in Greece ($4.08).

It sucks to be Canadian quite clearly. But there’s more:

The report suggested two possible reasons why prices are so much lower in Greece than in Canada:

  • Lower wholesale prices, with savings being passed on to consumers.
  • Greater competition in the retail roaming market.

Gee. Canadian cell phone carriers passing on savings to consumers? Until there’s real competition that scares the crap out of Rogers, Bell and Telus, that’s not going to happen.

Here’s something that I didn’t expect though. Telus actually had something to say about this:

Brent Johnston, vice-president of mobility marketing for Telus Corp., said his company agrees wholeheartedly with the OECD study’s conclusion that more attention needs to be paid to international roaming fees and making things simpler for clients.

“This is a consumer pain point. It’s clear,” he said.

He said the timing of the study was unfortunate because he expects Telus’s roaming rates to fall by “well over 50 per cent” within weeks.

That’s because of new competition from new wireless entrants in Canada and recent international agreements signed by Telus and Bell with other carriers around the world since they launched their new HSPA network in 2009. Prior to that, Johnston said, Rogers had a monopoly on international roaming within the Canadian market.

I’ll believe that their roaming rates are going to drop when I see it. Right now you have to take anything that any of the big three wireless carriers say with a grain of salt.

Hopefully the Canadian government who have proven to be willing to shake things up to encourage competition is watching this and is willing to do something about this. Otherwise, you’ll go bankrupt if you use your cell phone or smartphone overseas.

One Response to “Canadians Screwed On Mobile Roaming Fees…. Shock, Not…”

  1. It’s very uncomfortable for the travellers to pay big fees on the mobile roaming. It’ll be great if they reduce the prices.

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