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Canadians Spent Some $1.3 Billion Exceeding Their Data Plans In 2017: CRTC

We're using more data, and it's costing us.
Bronek Kaminski via Getty Images

It may be time for many Canadians to re-evaluate their home and mobile data plans.

Data released by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) last month shows Canadian wireless subscribers paid $1.2 billion in overage fees in 2017, amounting to five per cent of the telecom industry's overall revenues of $24.5 billion.

Households paid $94 million in overage fees on home internet, down slightly from $100 million the year before. That amounts to less than one per cent of telecom revenues. Fewer than five per cent of households actually went over their internet data caps, same as the year before.

Watch: Why your cell phone bill is so high. Story continues below.

Still, compared to the average overage fee of $55.00 per GB for mobile wireless, the average for broadband internet is a mere $2.38 per GB.

But unless you've expressly consented to paying additional charges, the Canadian Wireless Code requires service providers to stop charging data overage fees once you've hit $50 in a monthly billing cycle. At $100 in overages, the provider is required to cut off service.

More data, more spending on data

Overages or not, Canadians are using more data. The average data subscriber used 2 GB of data per month in 2017, or about 30 per cent more compared to the year before.

Unsurprisingly, the data also showed Canadians have steadily been spending more on data plans and home internet since 2012, and less on cable and landline phone services. The retail mobile market and the fixed internet market were the only two telecom sectors that had growth in 2017.

Canadians mostly stuck to the "big three" wireless providers for data plans — Bell, Rogers, and Telus — which accounted for 91.8 per cent of retail mobile revenues in 2017. The top three also held the majority revenue share in each province except Saskatchewan, where other providers captured 62 per cent of the sector..

The telecom industry made more money per user, the CRTC report found. The number of mobile subscribers also grew to 31.7 million, up by 3.1 per cent from the year before. Revenue grew almost twice as fast, by 5.4 per cent.

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