Ottawa moving forward on its commitment to reduce wireless prices

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Federal Industry Minister Navdeep Bains says the government is moving forward on its commitment to reduce wireless prices with quarterly progress reports and spectrum set aside for smaller carriers in an upcoming auction.

He says the incumbents Bell, Telus and Rogers have two years to reduce prices for their wireless plans in the two- to six-gigabyte range by 25 per cent from where they were at the start of this year, or face further regulatory action.

The commitment comes as a 2019 pricing report showed regional carriers had plans substantially lower than the big three carriers, though the wireless space in Canada has shifted substantially since much of the data was gathered last May.

One of the biggest changes is the shift by the big three to 10 gigabyte wireless plans with no overage penalties, which has helped lead to significant price reductions by the incumbents in numerous categories, but Bains says there still hasn't been enough of a price drop in the two- to six-gigabyte range that makes up about 40 per cent of subscriptions.

He says that for the upcoming auction of 3500 MHz band wireless spectrum, the government will set aside 25 per cent of what's on offer for smaller and regional competitors, where space allows, to further foster competition.

The auction for the spectrum, which is capable of running 5G wireless technology that is up to 100 times faster than 4G systems, is scheduled for Dec. 15 this year.