Canadian Telecommunications Companies Raise Prices For Internet Service

Prices for Internet service in Canada are rising again.

Telecommunications companies Telus (TSX:T), Bell (TSX:BCE) and Shaw (TSX:SJR.B) are each raising their prices on select Internet plans in the coming months – even though price increases were implemented at the end of 2018 by Telus, Shaw, Bell and Rogers.

Beginning on February 25, Telus will hike the rates on its Internet plans by $2 to $5 a month. On February 1, Bell will raise Internet prices by $5 a month for Bell Aliant customers in Atlantic Canada. In Ontario and Quebec, the company is hiking various Internet plans by up to $6 a month as of March 1.

The price increases come as Canadians sign up in record numbers for Internet service, driving up demand and revenues for service providers nationwide. In 2017, home Internet was the fastest-growing sector of all telecommunications services. According to the latest Communications Monitoring Report by the federal government, 86% of Canadian households subscribed to home Internet service in 2017, up almost four per cent from 2016. Bell claims that its customers' Internet usage has increased by more than 500% over the past five years.

Canadians are also demanding faster Internet speeds with more data — average monthly data use for high-speed users jumped by 30% in 2017 compared to 2016. Bell, Telus and Shaw say they have to raise rates to improve their networks and accommodate demand.

According to the federal report, residential Internet service revenues in Canada totalled $9.1 billion in 2017 — an 8.8% increase over 2016. In a recent notice sent to customers facing price hikes, Bell said it invested $4 billion in its national infrastructure in 2018.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Canada’s telecom regulator, is currently exploring an Internet “Code of Conduct” to address complaints from Canadians about their Internet service. While there's no mention of price regulation, the CRTC says the code could include measures to make it easier for consumers to switch service providers and take advantage of competitive offers.