Cheaper cellphone data deals may stick around in Canada, experts say

Click to play video: 'Phone fight: major Canadian carriers drop data prices'
Phone fight: major Canadian carriers drop data prices
WATCH ABOVE: Phone fight as major Canadian carriers drop data prices – Dec 18, 2017

Canada’s wireless carriers are facing off this week, offering deals on data that cellphone users in the country definitely aren’t used to.

Rogers, Telus and Bell are advertising 10 gigabytes of data for $60 per month. Rose Behar, a tech expert who writes for MobileSyrup, estimates that’s at least $65 cheaper than regular plans for that amount of data.  But some deals are already over, with others set to expire in a few hours.

READ MORE: Wireless carriers can’t keep up after weekend 10 GB for $60 promotion

It’s a competition that Shaw Communication’s Freedom Mobile kicked off in October, after introducing a 10GB for $50 plan.

“It looks like it’s retaliation in a sense from Rogers, Bell and Telus,” Behar told Global News.

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And it seems to be working. Canadians have been waiting for hours in stores and on the phone since the deals began a few days ago. There’s been so much demand for the deals that the companies have had to apologize for delays and begin waiting lists.

But are the deals just a holiday gift from the wireless carriers, or is this the start of new, cheaper data plans in Canada? Behar says Canadians may see similar deals in the near future.

WATCH: Canadian rush to take advantage of data deal

Click to play video: 'Canadian cellphone data deal: Rush to sign up crashes phone lines'
Canadian cellphone data deal: Rush to sign up crashes phone lines

“I think as long as the big three carriers are still feeling threatened by Freedom Mobile, we’ll continue to see these deals pop up in the future,” she explained, adding that the companies’ exact strategies are difficult to predict.

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A lot of it depends on how successful Freedom Mobile is in shaking up the scene. It has already done a fair bit of shaking, Behar points out. It launched an LTE network this year, rolled out data-heavy plans and added iPhones to its mobile lineup.

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WATCH: Competition over $60, 10GB cellphone deal just the beginning, tech expert says

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Competition over $60, 10GB cellphone deal just the beginning: tech expert

Behar says many customers are flocking to the deals because discounts on data in Canada are so rare. Such deals are more normal in the United States. They’d be considered slightly expensive for some European countries.

But David Lewis, an assistant professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management, explains that Canadian prices aren’t fully comparable to other countries. For one, the country is geographically much larger, which makes cellphone coverage more expensive.

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Still, Lewis says these deals could potentially mean lower prices for cellphone plans.

“It’s a little bit of a genie in the bottle. If you start competing on prices, it’s hard to go back,” the Toronto-based professor explains. “You can move them down, but there’s a resistance to moving them up.”

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Lewis agrees that it’s difficult to predict what exactly the companies are planning — but consumers are, and should be, hopeful.

“A lot of consumers will welcome this as sort of the beginning of price competition in Canada. It might lead to slightly better value than has been experienced in the past,” he said.

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Behar adds that if companies give the deals another go, they will likely create more robust action plans, ramping up call centres and stores ahead of launching the sales.

“We may see it again even within the holiday season, or perhaps just after the holiday season.”

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— With files from The Canadian Press

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