Canadian Minister calls price of internet, cell phones "unacceptable"

Jun 7 2017, 12:30 am

Canada might finally get a break in telecommunications pricing.

Known as one of the most expensive places in the developed world when it comes to internet and phone bills, Innovation and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said that the federal government is doing its part to promote competition and investment.

In a speech at the Canadian Telecom Summit on Monday, Bains addressed the high prices of cellphones in Canada.

“Subscribers pay more for basic cellphone service in Canada than for similar services in the US and UK,” said the Minister, who regularly receives letters from Canadians who are concerned that they are being priced out of the market.

Bains said that only 6 out of 10 low-income households in Canada have Internet service, compared to all households that earn $125,000 who all have the service.

“This digital divide is unacceptable. It represents a real barrier to continued prosperity for Canadians,” he said. “All Canadians need access to high-speed Internet, regardless of their income level or postal code. Until we bridge this digital divide, Canadians will not reach their full potential.”

According to Bains, telecommunication moguls Rogers and Telus have both introduced a service for low-income homes, which offers $10 a month for basic internet. And the Trudeau government is doing its part in bridging the divide. In the 2017 budget, the government proposed to invest $13 million to make it easier for all service providers to offer these programs to low-income families.

“In fact, our government would like to see more package options and price points offered to all Canadian families—particularly in the wireless sector. Other countries have benefited from service innovations that support low-cost options for consumers,” Bains said.

With that, Bains told the crowd at the Summit that Canadians deserve more choices and more affordable options. And to help, Bains announced that the government has made changes to its licensing process for satellite-based providers of high-speed Internet, which will encourage next-generation providers to enter the market.

“For Canada to be a world leader in innovation, our country needs to develop and use emerging technologies, such as 5G wireless networks,” said Bains. “There is no difference anymore between the digital economy and the rest of the economy. The digital economy is the economy.”

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