Bell’s New Rate Plans and 2-Year Contracts Trigger Higher Handset Prices

by Istvan Fekete on July 15, 2013

When CRTC asked for consumer input on wireless services last year, it became more than apparent: Canadians have had enough of 3-year terms. They also argued that Canadian wireless contracts are longer than most other countries’ and they are a significant barrier to what really motivates carriers: competition.

Although the wireless code will officially be implemented only on December 2nd, 2013, incumbents are apparently making preparations to comply with the new regulations. Yes, we are talking about the same carriers, who are challenging some parts of the wireless code as we speak.

Mobilesyrup has heard that Bell has started to officially implement the new contract terms, but the change unfortunately comes with a change in hardware pricing, the incumbents already hinted when commenting on CRTC’s new wireless code.

Yes: the 2-year terms have triggered higher handset prices.

During the Wireless code debate, the incumbents have published a study showing Canadians are very satisfied with the existing three-year wireless contracts, and with what they get with it: high-end smartphones at discount prices.

I can agree in part: $150-$200 sounds more attractive than $650.

Now with the wireless code, Canadians can finally enjoy the freedom of choice after 24 months, but they will need to pay more for owning the latest gadget, thanks to the new 2-year hardware pricing structure.

The 2-year term isn’t new: Telus has been offering 2-year contracts for years now, but the wireless code will force all players to shift towards this structure in the forthcoming weeks. Bell is the first one to make the official move, starting July 17th an internal document reveals.

“Beginning July 17th, 2013, Bell will replace all existing Consumer rate plans with a new line-up designed for 2 year contracts to offer greater choice and flexibility. Also as of July 17, 2013, hardware pricing will be determined by the plan the customer selects. There will be three key categories of rate plans offering different values of minutes and data usage. These new plans will be available on a 30 day and 2-year terms.” The rate plan categories will be Voice; Voice and Data Lite; and Voice and Data Plus.

We welcome the 2-year term, but we are light-years away from getting real options. I really miss T-Mobile’s forward thinking influence on Canadian carriers. Will Verizon come to help the skewed wireless market?

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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