Canadians pay some of the highest wireless prices in the world

Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the industrialized world for cellphone plans, but a new report argues there are good reasons for it.

Published by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI), a pro-free-market think-tank, the report takes aim at a 2017 wireless price-comparison study, commissioned by the federal government and completed by consulting firm Nordicity.

The annual study found that — once again — Canada’s cellphone rates rank among the highest out of eight countries surveyed.

MEI claims the study is “simplistic and misleading” because it ignores factors that can inflate prices, such as Canada’s geographical barriers and the investments that Canadian telcos have made to provide superior wireless services.

“We have some of the best networks in the world,” said MEI report author Martin Masse. “We’re paying for a Lexus, but it’s worth a Lexus.”

Canada also grapples with a small population spread out over a large region, Masse says, making it more expensive to develop and maintain wireless networks.

“Just think if you had 25 times more clients in an area served by a cell tower,” he said.

The Nordicity study compared wireless rates in Canada, the U.K., Germany, Italy, France, Japan, the U.S. and Australia.

Australia’s average monthly prices for cellphone plans were consistently cheaper than Canada’s — up to $37 less a month.

In 2016, 72 per cent of Canadians were signed up with major wireless carriers as opposed to discount brands, according to a recent CRTC report.

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