Could lower wireless prices be coming to Western Canada?

Average wireless prices are higher in Western Canada than in provinces further east. Getty Images

The average monthly bill for a wireless customer in British Columbia is more than $63. Albertans, meanwhile, can add $10 to that total on average for mobile services.

Together, the two provinces are the most expensive in the country for various reasons.

At least part of the explanation is that there’s less competitive pressure there. About six in 10 British Columbians can choose between four wireless providers and in Alberta, only about half had that choice (according to the 2013 annual report from regulators).

In Quebec, meanwhile, more than eight in 10 enjoy the option of picking between four carriers: either Rogers, Bell, Telus or Videotron.

In 2010, Videotron, the Montreal-based cable provider, launched cellphone services. The boost in competition is perhaps why the average bill in Quebec is just under $52 a month (see chart).

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New mobile phone providers like Wind Mobile and Mobilicity have tried to win over customers in B.C. and Alberta, but have had limited success and have stuck to big cities only.

Wind continues to lose money and on Wednesday, its foreign backer said it’s looking at ways to offload the carrier and exit the country.

Analysts say Videotron is Wind’s best option, especially given that Videotron also acquired airwave licences for wireless services across B.C. and Alberta earlier this year.

Experts note that an expansion by Videotron across the country remains a long shot at the moment.

To start, it would be expensive with no guarantee of success. If Wind failed to catch on meaningfully with B.C. and Alberta wireless customers, why would Videotron?

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But with an average monthly bill of about $40 among its 520,000 Quebec customers, consumers in Western Canada might welcome a takeover of Wind’s operations in the west.