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Wireless carriers quietly hike prices over the weekend

The Rogers sign is seen atop the Rogers Communications headquarters building on the day of their annual general meeting for shareholders in Toronto, April 25, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Without any fanfare, Canada’s big three wireless carriers have hiked the base prices for new plans by $5 in most markets over the weekend.

Rogers, Telus and Bell Mobility now all charge $80 per month for new smartphone plans with a new contract, $5 more than those same plans cost when they were introduced last year. The prices for other smartphone plans with more data cost upwards of $145.

The price hikes affect every province except Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The $80 a month plan includes 500 MB of data, unlimited nationwide calling, unlimited messaging, voicemail and call display.

No reasoning was given for the price increase, and no press releases were issued. Existing plans are unaffected.

Last summer, in response to the incoming wireless code of conduct, the three wireless carriers simplified their pricing models for new plans. Instead of choosing different plans based on minutes, data and messaging, customers instead pay a base line fee depending on the type of phone they have, and then add a basket of data which can be shared by members of the same household.

Initially, those base prices were $55 per month for regular smartphones, $45 per month for other smartphones, and $35 per month for already-unlocked smartphones. The prices for all three of these base prices has been increased.

The three companies came under fire by the federal government last year, which is pushing for a fourth wireless competitor in all four markets.

Quebec-based Videotron was awarded 700 MHz licences in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta, and may emerge as a fourth wireless competitor in those markets.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan, however, have more competitive pricing. Due to strong regional competitors in SaskTel and MTS, Bell and Rogers plans start at $65 per month with five GB of data. An equivalent plan elsewhere in the country costs $55 more per month.

CBC News asked Bell, Telus and Rogers for comment on this story, but they did not respond to inquiries.

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