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Critics question big 3 companies' link between weak loonie, rising wireless rates

Last Updated Jan 21, 2016 at 4:14 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

OpenMedia says the real reason for wireless companies adding surcharges is simply that they can

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Canada’s big three providers are blaming some cost increases on new plans the weak loonie, but critics aren’t so sure that explanation makes sense.

Critics are also wondering how the state of the Canadian dollar affects what wireless companies charge us.

Bell, Telus and Rogers — which is the parent company of NEWS 1130 — all point to rising costs for things they have to purchase from foreign companies.

Telus and Rogers say costs incurred buying things like handsets are going up, with the loonie flying this low. They’ve added surcharges to some plans. Telus and Rogers are adding $5 surcharges to new plans.

Advocacy group OpenMedia says even so, the difference shouldn’t cause enough of a blow to the big three to require an extra charge. David Christopher with the group argues the real reason they’ve done it is because they can.

“The real reason is that we have so little choice and competition in the marketplace. When you’ve just got like three large companies controlling 90 per cent of the market, they feel that they can pretty much do as they please.”

He says if this is really about the dollar, it should work both ways.

“This just seems like any old excuse will do, when it comes to raising rates. It’s not so long ago since the Canadian dollar was actually really strong– actually, even stronger than the American dollar — and at that time, we certainly didn’t see the big three lowering their prices due to the strong dollar.

Christopher thinks this is more evidence that allowing three companies to operate without enough competition is hurting average people.