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As some MPs gather Thursday to mull a request for a study on cellphone package price increases, telecom industry watchers say it’s clear costs are too high despite indications that prices have come down in recent years.

Members of the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology are set to discuss the topic after Rogers Communications Inc. RCI-B-T confirmed last week that prices are going up by an average of $5 for wireless customers not on contract. The move will take effect on bills received after Jan. 17.

The company declined to comment on the committee meeting but pointed to a previous statement noting some recent pricing announcements. That included Rogers halving the price per gigabyte of data on its most popular 5G plan and lowering its 5G entry price by 35 per cent when bundled with residential services.

Some Bell customers have also posted photos on social media of notices informing them their wireless bills are set to increase, however BCE Inc. BCE-T has not responded to requests for comment.

Telus Corp. T-T has also not responded to inquiries on whether it plans to raise its rates. On Thursday, Cogeco Inc. CGO-T chief financial officer Patrice Ouimet confirmed during his company’s latest quarterly earnings call that its Canadian customers saw an unspecified price increase in October.

The meeting Thursday on Parliament Hill was requested by industry committee members Rick Perkins, Ryan Williams, Brad Vis and Bernard Genereux of the Conservatives and Bloc MP Sebastien Lemire.

They wrote in a Jan. 8 letter the looming price hike by Rogers “appears to be the first material impact of Canada’s cellphone market becoming less competitive” following Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne’s approval of the Rogers-Shaw merger last year.

At the time, Rogers chief executive Tony Staffieri pledged to lower costs for customers, saying in an interview that “competition is going up, especially in the west, and prices are going to come down.”

The Canadian Telecommunications Association has touted data compiled from Statistics Canada’s inflation reports showing cellular costs have declined more than 47 per cent over the past five years in contrast to an overall inflation increase of 19 per cent for the same period.

“While we question the need for a study, we know that a review of wireless plan prices will show what Statistics Canada has already concluded, wireless services have never been cheaper,” said association spokesman Eric Smith.

“As prices have declined, the industry has been investing billions to increase capacity, coverage and quality of service, as evidenced by a 90 per cent increase in average mobile download speeds over the last five years.”

But consumer advocate Mohammed Halabi said some big companies are trying to sell larger plans with more data and bundling options. That means consumers may see their telecom bills growing, though they’re getting more bang for their buck.

He said it’s hard to find offers that properly account for most customers’ average usage.

“I’m still seeing prices as being too high,” said Halabi, the director of, a company that helps businesses and private customers find savings with their telecom expenses.

“Everybody’s trying to push these bigger plans, more data. Yes, the cost per gigabyte has gone down when you look at it because they’re offering you 100 or 50 gigabytes for $75 versus 30 for $75, but we want to see cheaper prices that properly qualify customers.”

In a statement, Champagne said Canadian consumers are still paying too much despite progress on lowering prices. He 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,” Champagne said.

“I am prepared to use any other tools at my disposal to fight for Canadians consumers.”

Asked to clarify what specific action the minister could take and whether he supported a potential study on telecom prices, a spokeswoman for his office replied, “We’ll take the appropriate actions, if necessary and if the time comes.”

“Being the regulator, the minister has many options and tools at his disposition,” said Audrey Champoux.

“We’ll let the independent committee debate and make their decision on best course forward.”

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