Mobile roaming fees in Canada among the world’s most expensive

·Editor

Mobile providers in Canada force users to shell out for some of the highest cellphone rates in the world, and we get very little relief outside of the country.

Canadians using their cellphones abroad fall victim to some of the most expensive wireless data roaming charges out there, according to a study from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD).

"There's no question that there's a direct correlation with the lack of competition we've long had in the (Canadian) market place," says Michael Geist, a law professor who studies Canadian digital issues, in a Globe & Mail story. "And perhaps that will change over time, with some of the new carriers. But, for the moment, the dominant providers have felt they're in a position to charge rates far in excess of what other providers charge."

The OECD compared data roaming charges from the top two providers in each of the 34 countries studied between September and October, 2010.

Canadians subscribers with Bell or Rogers paid an average of $24.06 in roaming fees for one megabyte of data per day, nearly three times the OECD average of $9.27. According to the report, one megabyte of data is just enough to send up to 10 photos using your mobile device.

When comparing the cost of five megabytes of data throughout the span of five days, Canadian fees were the fifth highest behind Chile, the U.S., Poland and Japan.

Yet despite a global average of just under $10 for one megabyte per day, the OECD report found overall prices to be "high" worldwide.

"Current pricing levels indicate that there is, in general terms, either insufficient retail or wholesale competition," stated the report, according to a CBC story.

Canada's top wireless providers, Bell and Rogers, did not respond to a CBC request for comment, but the brass from Telus strongly agree with the OECD's findings.

"This is a consumer pain point. It's clear," said Brent Johnston, vice-president of mobility marketing for Telus Corp. in the story. Johnston expressed the timing of the study was unfortunate as Telus' roaming rates will soon be cut by "well over 50 per cent."

Such a dramatic drop in roaming fees is largely due to added competition from new wireless providers, as well as Telus' recently signed international agreements with global carriers. Prior to the emergence of companies such as Wind Mobile, Rogers held a monopoly within the Canadian market on international roaming charges, according to Johnston.

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