Charges for mobile phone use in Canada are similar to those in the United States, but Canadians tend to be locked into longer contracts and pay more for international roaming, according to some of the pricing plans available online.
Mobile service in the two countries are among the highest in the world, according to an OECD report that was based on 2011 prices. But usage was higher in North America than elsewhere.
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It's often hard to compare pricing, given the variety of contract lengths and data plans, but here are some of differences and similarities between the two countries:
- For an iPhone 5 with 16GB of storage, a Verizon Wireless customer will pay $200 up front on a two-year contract, while a customer with Telus, Canada's No. 2 provider, would pay C$200 ($190).
- A Verizon customer could pay $100 a month for unlimited U.S.-wide talk and text and 2GB of data; an equivalent Telus customer would pay C$100 ($96.82) for Canada-wide calls. The websites for Bell and Rogers only offer a month-to-month plan or a three-year contract for the same phone and plan.
- Phone subsidies - the difference between what a carrier pays and what it charges customers - are similar in Canada and the United States. But Canadian providers typically offer three-year contracts and the U.S. standard was two years. Canada's telecoms regulator ruled in June that carriers must phase out three-year contracts by the end of the year.
- Canadian carriers typically charge around C$1.50 a minute for customers to make voice calls while in the United States, data costs C$5 per megabyte. That is much higher than what U.S. operators charge when their customers use their phones in Canada: about $1 a minute for voice calls and $2 per MB for data.
Operators on both sides of the border seek to sell upgrades to their basic plans. For example, Rogers charges C$25 a month to upgrade a voice plan to unlimited U.S. and Canada minutes, or C$5 to reduce the long-distance rate to 10 cents a minute from C$1.45. Bell charges C$10 to add unlimited Canada calling.
($1 = 1.0329 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Doina Chiacu)