Canadian Consumers Feel Dissatisfied and Trapped by Large Telcos

Landmark survey reveals unprecedented level of consumer frustration; lack of fairness, affordability and choice seen as creating anti-consumer telecommunications environment

TORONTO, Nov. 5, 2019 /CNW/ – The majority of customers of large telecommunications firms in Canada feel frustrated to be paying some of the highest prices in the world for home Internet and almost half feel trapped by their current provider. These and other survey findings confirm an unprecedented level of Canadian consumer dissatisfaction, frustration and cynicism based on their treatment by large telecommunications providers.

Conducted by Leger on behalf of Distributel Communications Ltd., this national survey entitled Broken Connection: Canadian Consumers’ Views on Large Telecommunications Providers, showcases clear insight into Canadians’ perception of the affordability, service, value and respect they are receiving from the large telecommunications providers.

“Achieving a truly competitive telecommunications marketplace is the best way to ensure that Canadians across the country have access to the benefits of consumer choice,” said Matt Stein, CEO of Distributel. “However, the results of this survey paint a picture of Canadians who are frustrated that the large incumbent Internet service providers rely on the lack of competition and choice to maintain the status quo.”

The results are being released at the annual Canadian ISP Summit, a conference designed for communications service providers across the country. The Summit allows attendees to address the issues that matter most to Canadian consumers, the challenges and opportunities of the current business environment and how the industry can thrive amidst change.

“The ISP Summit is the ideal forum for all players in the industry to have productive consumer-focused discussions on where the industry is headed and how we can all come together to better meet the needs of Canadians through increased fairness, affordability, choice and competition,” said Mr. Stein.

The following is an overview of select survey findings:

  • While almost all Canadians have Internet in their home, the majority are customers of the big telecommunications companies: Nearly all (97%) of Canadians have Internet service in their home. Almost eight-in-ten (79%) are customers of one of the big telecommunications providers, while only 3% are customers of smaller independent companies.
  • Canadians feel trapped by their current provider, with over half in Atlantic Canada feeling trapped: 40% would like to change companies but feel trapped by their current Internet service provider. Just over half (53%) of Atlantic Canadians are more likely to say they would like to change Internet providers but feel trapped.
  • Customers of the large telecommunications firms feel they have limited choice when it comes to changing companies: 65% of Canadians who have home Internet from a large telecom company feel there is no point in changing telecommunications companies as they are all pretty much the same.
  • Lack of competition has led Canadians to falsely believe there are no alternatives to the big telecommunications firms: Nearly half (45%) believe there are no alternatives to the large Internet service providers.
  • An anti-consumer environment has been nurtured and is thriving across Canada: Almost half (49%) of Canadians feel that it is too difficult to change Internet service providers.
  • Canadians are frustrated they are paying some of the highest prices in the world for home Internet: Nearly all (90%) Canadians who have home Internet are frustrated they are paying much higher Internet fees than consumers in other countries. Rural Canadians (96%) are significantly more likely to be frustrated with paying more than other countries compared to urban and suburban residents.
  • Customers of the large telecommunications firms have experienced price increases over the last 24 months – almost half without notification: Just over two-thirds (67%) of Canadians who have home Internet from a large telecom company say their Internet service provider has increased the price of their home Internet in the past 24 months. Among those who saw a price increase, 41% say the price increased without any notification.
  • Despite recent price increases, Canadians are experiencing an unacceptably low increase in value: Only 12% of Canadians with home Internet say they are getting more value in their products and services after a price increase. While still low, urban Canadians (16%) are more likely to say they got better service after a price increase, compared to suburban Canadians (8%) and rural Canadians (10%).

In August, after an exhaustive three-year review, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) corrected wholesale Internet rates and lowered them to a fair and reasonable level to ensure that Canadian consumers will benefit from a competitive marketplace. In doing so, the CRTC opened the door for the industry to invest, innovate and offer enhanced services at fair prices. However, in mid-September six of Canada’s largest Internet service providers asked the Federal Court of Appeal to overrule the August decision and by the end of the month, the Court issued a temporary stay of the CRTC decision, further delaying the intended benefits to Canadian consumers.

“Canadians have clearly voiced their concern about the status quo created by the large telecommunications firms,” said Stein. “The limits they have deliberately placed on consumer choice, fairness, affordability and competition have led to unacceptable levels of dissatisfaction. And when 40 percent of their customers say they want to change companies but feel trapped by their current provider, that’s a clear sign that the status quo is not serving Canadians.”

About the Survey

Broken Connection: Canadian Consumers’ Views on Large Telecommunications Providers, an online survey of 1,535 Canadians was completed between October 18-21, 2019, using Leger’s online panel. The margin of error for this study was +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

About Distributel Communications Limited

Established in 1988, Distributel is a leading national, independent telecommunications provider offering a wide range of business and residential communications services. 100% Canadian-owned, with offices across the country and a national network, Distributel continues to forge new partnerships and bring innovative solutions to market directly and through a thriving wholesale division. ThinkTel, the Business Services Division of Distributel, is a provider of advanced voice and data services for the SMB and Enterprise markets throughout Canada. TV services provided through Zazeen Inc., an IPTV service provider that operates in Ontario and Quebec. As a top Microsoft Solutions Partner and a Cisco PMP, the Business Services division is focused on driving industry innovation. For more information, visit: