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Some Rogers wireless customers will see their monthly bills go up, with an average increase of $5 a month, the company said.Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

Several members of Parliament are calling for a study into rising cellphone bills as Rogers Communications Inc. RCI-B-T and BCE Inc. BCE-T prepare to hike prices for some of their wireless customers.

In a Jan. 8 letter, four Conservative MPs and one Bloc Québécois MP called for a meeting of the House of Commons industry and technology committee, which they sit on, “to discuss an urgent study on the increasing costs of cell phone packages.” The committee also has members from the Liberal and New Democratic parties.

Some Rogers wireless customers will see their monthly bills go up, with an average increase of $5 a month, the company said. BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada, meanwhile, said that some of its customers will see their monthly bills go up by between $4 and $6. Telus Corp. T-T did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The price hikes come less than a year after Ottawa allowed Rogers to complete its $20-billion takeover of Shaw Communications Inc. by approving the transfer of Shaw’s wireless licences to Videotron Ltd.

Federal Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne’s signoff came with a number of conditions relating to the affordability and accessibility of wireless services.

“If Canadians do not begin to see clear and meaningful reductions in price, within a reasonable amount of time, I will have no choice but to seek further legislative and regulatory powers to drive down prices in Canada,” Mr. Champagne said at the time.

The industry and technology committee recommended against the takeover in a non-binding March, 2022, report.

In the Jan. 8 letter, posted to social-media platform X by Tory MP Rick Perkins, the Conservative and Bloc MPs argue that Canada’s wireless market has become less competitive as a result of Rogers’s takeover of Shaw.

As part of the deal, Rogers divested Shaw’s wireless carrier, Freedom Mobile, to Videotron for $2.85-billion. Despite the divestiture, the Competition Bureau sought to block the takeover but lost when the Competition Tribunal concluded that the sale of Freedom to Videotron would create a “more aggressive and effective” wireless competitor.

“The looming price hike by Rogers appears to be the first material impact of Canada’s cell phone market becoming less competitive,” the letter from the MPs reads.

It goes on to note that Rogers chief executive Tony Staffieri previously said that prices would go down and that Mr. Champagne had vowed to watch “like a hawk” to ensure that Rogers and Videotron upheld their written commitments. In the case of Rogers, those commitments were around creating jobs in Western Canada and investing in networks, while Videotron promised to offer wireless plans 20 per cent less expensive than those offered by the major wireless carriers, among other guarantees.

“Given the fact that the Liberal government approved the decision to make Canada’s telecommunications market smaller and less competitive, the Minister of Industry must answer for the latest price increase[s],” the letter reads.

Mr. Champagne on Tuesday urged carriers “to seriously consider customers over profits at this time.”

“While prices for some wireless plans have declined by more than 22 per cent over the past year, the planned price increases to certain month-to-month plans that have recently been announced go against the spirit we’ve set, at a time when Canadians are struggling to make ends meet,” Mr. Champagne said in a statement.

“I am prepared to use any other tools at my disposal to fight for Canadian consumers,” he added.

Mr. Staffieri told The Globe and Mail in an interview last April, when the Shaw takeover closed, that the telecom had reduced its prices by 30 per cent over several years.

“We’ll continue to do what we need to do to continue to bring them down,” he said at the time.

The following month, the Toronto-based wireless giant introduced a lower-cost 5G cellphone plan and doubled the amount of data provided with its most popular wireless offering.

A Rogers spokesperson said on Tuesday that wireless customers who are on a term contract will not see their monthly service fee go up for the duration of that contract.

That is also the case for Bell customers, according to spokesperson Ellen Murphy, who said in a statement that wireless prices have gone down sharply since the start of 2020.

“This significant decline in prices since 2020 came during a period where Bell made historic capital expenditures totaling $19-billion in network expansion and capacity. These investments are bringing high quality 5G/5G+ wireless and fibre Internet service to millions of customers in urban and rural communities,” Ms. Murphy said.

The industry and technology committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday afternoon to discuss the request in the MPs’ letter.

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