Rogers is making a major shift in its wireless service offerings by introducing unlimited data plans with no overage charges — with a catch.

Canada’s three national carriers have been slower to adopt unlimited data plans than U.S. wireless networks.

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But unlimited data plans have been available from their regional competitor, Freedom Mobile, which operates wireless networks in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

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Consumer advocacy group OpenMedia questions the timing of the Rogers’ announcement, pointing out it comes amid a CRTC review of the wireless market.

“I think they want to be able to pat themselves on the back and I think that they’re also scared at the prospect of the review of new providers coming into the market and fostering actual competition,” Marie Aspiazu with OpenMedia said.

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Rogers says its new Infinite wireless plans will start at $75 for up to 10 gigabytes of full-speed data usage per month, followed by unlimited data at reduced speeds but without additional fees for going over the limit.

“After you hit your data cap, you’re being throttled from LTE to 3G, which significantly reduces the speed of your connection and what you can do with our phone,” Aspiazu said.

Vancouver resident Kyle Chen points out Canada’s mobile plans are still some of the most expensive in the world for what consumers receive.

“You go down to the U.S. right now, you get about 10 gigs for $50 or so. It’s still not competitive,” he said.

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Tourists also find it baffling.

“I come from Scotland,” Kate Wilson said. “And most of the phone contracts are unlimited data.”

Even some American expats haven’t switched to Canadian plans.

“We’re both from the States and we’ve actually kept our other cellphone provider because it does have unlimited in Canada and the U.S.,” Adelle Tobias Kelly said.

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Michael Geist, the Canadian Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa (and a lead commentator when it comes to Canadian telecommunications issues), notes the presence of regional providers like SaskTel, Eastlink, Freedom Mobile and Videotron has lead to lower plans in certain provinces.

“By far, the biggest factor [impacting prices] is competition,” Geist explains.

“Other countries have more competition, which leads to lower prices. For example, some countries have more liberal foreign investment rules, which opens the door to big international carriers who can push prices lower.”

What about “discount carriers?” Well, they’re not technically considered competition to the “Big 3,” Geist explained.

“Most ‘discount carriers’ in Canada are actually flanker brands owned by the larger players,” he says.

“While there are some notable entrants in some markets — Videotron, Sasktel, Freedom Mobile — we still don’t have a strong fourth national carrier on the level of Bell, Rogers, and Telus.”

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Rogers, which operates across Canada, says its new unlimited data plans will become available Thursday.

“Increasingly customers have been telling us that data overage and worry-free wireless is really critical to their ability to use wireless services,” Rogers Wireless Services president Brent Johnston said.

Rogers also said it will introduce new options for financing device purchases later this summer.

Global News asked Telus and Bell if they’ll match Rogers, but neither company replied to the request.

READ MORE: Freedom Mobile launches 100 GB promotion in latest challenge to Big 3 rivals

— With files from Karen Bartko, Jordan Armstrong and Dani-Elle Dubé, Global News

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