Telus Takes The Lead To Reduce International Data Roaming Charges In Canada

by Gaurav Kheterpal on June 13, 2011

Last October, I made an attempt to uncover the reasons why Canadian plans are so expensive. Last week, the Canadian press went gung-ho over an OECD report which supposedly suggested that Canadians are paying some of the highest prices in the world for wireless data service while away from their home.

Interestingly, the reality is that Canadians pay the lowest roaming fees when they roam to the United States and Mexico, but roaming to other international destinations can severely dent your wallet. None the less, there’s no denial that regulators and policy makers in Canada need to keep a close tab on wireless carriers to ensure international data roaming charges are kept within control.

Telus seems to be among the early movers to adopt a more “rational” data roaming fee policy as the carrier announced plans to reduce by more than half its rates for customers who use the firm’s wireless data when overseas. Will other carriers follow suit to reduce international data roaming charges? Only time will tell.

The Globe quotes Telus Corp.’s vice-president of mobility marketing Brent Johnston who says he agrees with the OECD report’s findings about high prices in Canada. He suggests that wireless providers could still make a profit by reducing roaming charges considerably. Telus is expected to announce a significant price reduction before the summer travel season.

The OECD report indicates a strong need for competition among wireless operators if the current high international data roaming fee is to be reduced. The report called on regulators and policy makers to impose limitations on the amount operators can charge users to access the internet via their mobile phones. In Europe, wireless carriers are enforced to give customers information on pricing when they connect to a data network for the first time.

In Canada, the international data roaming rules are somewhat different because there are no rules at all.

Remember Jason Boutang, a Calgary resident who visited France for three days and then received the shock of his life when he received a statement of his June bill saying he owed Virgin Mobile a whopping sum of $7,763.70. Boutang subsequently filed a complaint with CRTC and was able to get away by paying a fraction of the bill.

From a broader perspective though, there is a strong case for the implementation of consumer protection measures to ensure such incidents aren’t repeated. I’m glad Telus has taken the lead to reduce international data roaming fee in wake of consumer interests. Will other Canadian wireless carriers follow suit? I’m skeptical yet hopeful.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby: RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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RogersElise June 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm


I am Elise from Rogers. I would like to add my little bit of comment here.
Telus is saying that they are taking the lead by reducing their roamng fees but the reality is that, they are only now decreasing their rates since they’ve started their GSM network in 2009 while Rogers has been offering travel packs for a long time.
Telus is decreasing international roaming rates but also expiring their Passport offer. They are taking away choice for their customers. Everybody will be paying the same rates and for frequent travelers, the result will be an increase in charges. For instance, Telus is advertising a new pricing of $10/MB for data roaming. Our customers on a travel pack pay between $3/MB to $5/MB.
Our goal is to improve our customers’ experience when they travel. We’re introducing new plans and options for that: the One Rate Roaming Plan that virtually erases the border between Canada and the US, possibility of signing-up for travel packs online or on your device…
Our ultimate goal is to make roaming affordable and we’re continually looking for ways to deliver this for our customers as we aggressively negotiate directly with roaming partners around the world.

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