Rogers, Bell, Telus return to CRTC with revised low-cost, data-only plans

Each major carrier now has at least one plan that offers 1GB of LTE data

Canada’s three major carriers have proposed a collection of new low-cost, data-only alternatives in response to a July 20th, 2018 Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) request for additional information.

The CRTC’s request outlined a number of questions, including whether or not carriers would be open to proposing alternative low-cost, data-only plans, in the wake of concerns raised by a number of Canadian consumer advocacy groups.

Rogers proposes eight new plans

Toronto-based national carrier and Canada’s largest wireless service provider Rogers initially proposed two $25/400MB LTE plans.

However, the carrier returned to the CRTC with eight news plans — three prepaid and postpaid Fido plans and two prepaid Chatr plans.

Rogers proposed a $15/250MB plan, a $25/500MB plan and a $30/1GB plan through its Fido mid-tier flanker brand. All three plans provide access to LTE data, as well as unlimited text and picture messaging — both inbound and outbound.

Additionally, Rogers proposed a $15/250MB and $25/1GB plan through its Chatr low-cost flanker brand. Both plans offer 3G data speeds, unlimited incoming calls and unlimited Canada-wide text and picture messaging.

The $15 Chatr plan provides 100 Canada-wide voice calling minutes, while the $25 plan doesn’t provide an outgoing minutes bucket.

It’s worth noting that Rogers admitted in its CRTC submission that its Chatr plans don’t meet the CRTC’s original technical requirements regarding access to LTE data.

The carrier clarified, however, that it “feels these plans will provide a very worthwhile additional complement to the three plans described above.”

“Rogers expects that its new proposed lower-cost data-only plans will help to cut mobile wireless spending in households with low incomes,” reads an excerpt from Rogers’ submission.

“Rogers also expects that its plans will attract new subscribers to the mobile wireless market.”

In a separate statement issued to MobileSyrup, Rogers said: “We share the government’s concerns that low income families need access to affordable options, and we are pleased to propose five new plans on our popular Fido and chatr brands to complement our current offers to meet the various needs and budgets of our customers as we continue to invest in our world-class network and technology.”

Bell proposes three new plans

Montreal-based national carrier and Canada’s second-largest wireless service provider Bell initially proposed a prepaid and postpaid plan through its Virgin Mobile mid-tier flanker brand that sought to provide subscribers with 500MB of LTE data for $30.

The carrier returned to the Commission with three plan proposals — a prepaid and postpaid Virgin Mobile offering and a prepaid Lucky Mobile offering.

The new Virgin Mobile plans offer 1GB of LTE data for $28, while the new Lucky Mobile plan provides 500MB of 3G data for $15.

Bell explained that its low-cost Lucky Mobile flanker brand only offers prepaid, 3G plans.

“As a result, the Lucky Mobile offering included in our proposal is also available only on a prepaid basis at 3G network speeds,” said Bell, in its CRTC submission.

“This allows us to offer the same amount of data as in our previous proposal, but at half the price.”

Telus proposes two new plans

Vancouver-based carrier and Canada’s third-largest wireless service provider Telus initially offered a $30/500MB LTE plan through its mid-tier Koodo flanker brand and a 600MB/$30 LTE plan through its low-cost Public Mobile brand.

According to Telus’s September 10th, 2018 submission, the carrier is prepared to introduce two new 4G data-only plans through its mid-tier Koodo and low-tier Public Mobile flanker brands.

Both plans offer 1GB of mobile data for $30 at 4G LTE speeds, but the Koodo plan would be postpaid, while the Public Mobile plan would be prepaid.

Telus explained that its two new plan proposals are “affordable…they are available on the latest mobile wireless technology over Telus’s 4G LTE network…and they will be available on both a prepaid basis (through Public Mobile) and postpaid basis (through Koodo).”

“The cellular data allotment of 1GB that Telus now proposes far exceeds what would reasonably be necessary as a complement to primary Wi-Fi use, and will enable customers to meaningfully participate in the digital economy,” reads an excerpt from Telus’s proposal document.

The carrier clarified that its new Public Mobile offering would join existing data-only plans, including a $20/250MB 3G plan, a $20 plan with unlimited talk, a $25 plan with unlimited talk and text and a $30/500MB 3G plan with unlimited talk and text.

Expectations from Canada’s consumer advocates

Due to the presence of plans that offer 1GB of data, it’s easy to look at each carrier’s new proposals as significant upgrades.

However, it’s important to note that a number of Canadian consumer advocacy groups suggested that carriers propose plans that provided a similar data bucket for a lower cost.

The Forum for Research and Policy in Communications (FRPC), for example, proposed a $7/1GB data-only plan.

The Manitoba branch of the Consumers’ Association of Canada and the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg supported a $20/1GB plan.

Anyone interested in filing replies to the responses to the CRTC’s request for information have until October 9th, 2018 to do so.