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Unlimited plans bring some sanity to cell phone bills

Canadians are getting hosed on cellular data plans – but finally, a glimmer of hope.
(Vergani Fotografia /

My Telus cell phone bill last month was $1,056.72.

Yup, you read that right.

My base plan is supposedly $120, but I almost always end up paying much more than that. It’s always the data overages that do it. Periodic warnings at $50, $100, $200 and then $300 pop up in my text messages and I always answer “YES” to continue.

Most of the time, it’s because there’s work that has to be done, and more often than not, I need data to do it. Or – let’s be honest – sometimes I turn off the WiFi because my phone keeps trying to connect to a faulty network *ahem ShawOpen* and I forget to turn it back on before playing a podcast or putting on a Netflix show for the kids.

It’s expensive and it’s embarrassing and it’s about time things changed.

For some lucky Canadians, that horror is about to come to an end. Last week, Rogers announced an unlimited data plan, their “Infinite” plan starting at $75: 10 GB of data, with more at a reduced speed but without additional charges. Bell and Telus, the other two thirds of the “big three,” came out within days offering their own versions: “endless” data from Telus as a limited-time promotion and an unlimited plan for $95 per month from Bell. Even when the offers expire, so long as one of the three holds fast, it should be enough to keep cell phone bills within a sane realm.

Data overages have been stereotyped for a long time as a problem of millennials and teenagers texting too much and racking up their parents’ phone bills. But often the reality is that young people rely on different forms of communication than their parents did – for both work and fun – and it’s time the providers perked up.

According to Statistics Canada, only 67%of Canadian households have a landline, while 88% have cell phones. If those households are anything like mine, they have someone with Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn open simultaneously during most waking hours.

“Canadians want worry-free wireless and these new plans will give our customers peace of mind so they can use as much data as they want,” said Joe Natale, Rogers President and Chief Executive Officer in a news release. “This is about putting our customers first, and helping them get the most out of their wireless services.”

It’s a move that has been years coming.

In Europe, monthly phone plans start at about $17 a month. One survey by Tefficient showed that Canadians paid more than 32 other countries surveyed. In Finland, for example, more than half of cellphone users have unlimited data plans – but they still pay much less than Canadians.

There has been no real rhyme or reason to this except that Telus, Rogers, and Bell can charge basically whatever they want. The entry into the market of companies like Freedom and Wind mobile shook things up a bit and Rogers must have been feeling the pressure.

It’s a great example of what the free market can accomplish – and I for one sure am looking forward to seeing that bill go down.

Ada Slivinski is the Founder & Principal of Jam PR, a boutique agency focused on helping small businesses get big exposure. You can reach her at [email protected]