The three biggest cellphone companies in Canada are being forced to reduce their prices by 25 percent. Bell, Rogers and Telus have two years to make the change, which will be enforced by the Trudeau government according to Global News.
On Thursday, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains announced that the government will begin tracking wireless pricing on a quarterly basis instead of yearly. The goal is to better track the prices so that the required price drops are met by plans that offer two-to-six GB of data.
He added that the government will “take action with other regulatory tools to further increase competition and help reduce prices” if the Big Three do not reduce their prices.
On Thursday, Bains said, “If they fail to do so, we will look at additional regulatory measures, like how we deploy future spectrum or mobile virtual network operators as a means to drive more competition, which will help lower prices.”
“Spectrum is essential for companies to be able to grow, to provide data to consumers, to connect consumers,” said Bains. “It’s what makes a smartphone smart. So this is a very valuable resource and how we deploy that resource will enable the ability for companies to invest and grow going forward.”
“If they are unable to meet that 25 percent commitment in the next two years, we will make sure that we have policies in place that promote competition and so mobile virtual network operators will use their networks for infrastructure and provide lower-cost data plans to consumers.” Bains said.
Canada has had some of the highest cellphone prices in the world for years.
According to a 2016 study of eight industrialized countries by the Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Canadians pay the most for cellphone plans. Broadband internet prices are also the third highest among the countries which include the U.S., France, U.K. and Australia.
In January, a CRTC study showed that just half of Canadians are happy with the cellphone providers they use. The CRTC is questioning whether the companies should be forced to sell network access to the smaller companies.
Telus CEO Darren Entwistle said that the company would cut 5,000 jobs if they were forced to sell the network access.
Bains said that it has been made clear by the government that more investment is wanted and he thinks that it is easier for companies with the current tax environment.