Bell won the $60/10GB promo pricing wars

Bell Telus and Rogers

When the $60/10GB wireless promo wars were raging during the December holiday season it was impossible to tell who was winning.

It was a chaotic several days that, for most deal hunters, consisted largely of spending time waiting on the phone or in lines, desperately attempting to nab an unprecedented data-rich offer.

Now, however, the numbers are in. All three of Canada’s major carriers have reported fourth quarter 2017 wireless postpaid subscriber additions that cover the holiday promotion period.

Of course, as a disclaimer, there are other elements that no doubt positively affected wireless subscriber additions — but each carrier cited seasonal promotions as the core driver for growth during the fourth quarter.

Without further ado, here are the results:

Bell and Virgin Mobile came in first place by a significant margin, with Bell president and CEO George Cope lauding the carrier’s wireless speeds as its competitive advantage. Meanwhile, Telus and Koodo came in second, with 54,000 less than Bell.

Rogers came in a surprisingly low third place. Though Canada’s most-subscribed carrier kicked off the promotions, it explained during its fourth-quarter earnings call that issues with its rate plan changing system resulted in a high churn rate of 1.48 percent, up from 1.35 percent during the same period last year.

It seems that systems glitch severely impacted potential subscriber additions for the carrier and its postpaid flanker brand Fido.

Freedom Mobile, the carrier whose low-priced, data-rich plans sparked this promotional war, has yet to release results that reflect the full outcome of its ‘Big Gig’ plans and the resulting promo price war. Those numbers will arrive in its second quarter 2018 financial results, though Shaw president Jay Mehr did state the promotions led to “record disconnects.”


Whether or not we’ll see more of this $60/10GB pricing, however, depends largely on Freedom Mobile’s continued presence as an imposing fourth wireless option in Canada, which will rely largely on its access to spectrum — such as 600MHz.

For now, though, it’s clear all three major Canadian carriers came out winners in the $60/10GB promo price wars. As the Globe and Mail‘s Christine Dobby points out, the total amount of subscribers added between them in the fourth quarter, 368,000, is up from 292,000 in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Over the full year of 2017, the Big Three drew in 1,149,779 together, up from 844,311 in 2016.