Roaming rates, liveable Canadian cities & tattoo regret: BUSINESS WEEK WRAP

Companies often claim they love to pass savings on to consumers, but it’s not often that process plays out in as stark a way as it did this week.

Wireless company Wind Mobile announced this week it would be slashing the rate it charges its customers when they travel and use other companies’ cellular networks by as much as 95 per cent.

Instead of shelling out $1 per megabyte when out of town and connected to a rival network, Wind customers will now only be out 5 cents per MB. The company lowered its prices for text and voice as well, but it was the cut to data rates that drew most of the headlines this week.

The move is in reaction to a CRTC ruling last month that found Wind’s larger rivals — the so-called “Big 3” of Rogers, Telus and Bell — had been overcharging smaller companies for piggybacking on their networks.  

Now that those old deals have been torn up, Wind says it can pass those savings on to its customers. Here’s hoping it’s a trend other companies will follow.

Canadian cities score well

The prospect of cheaper cellphone bills may be appealing to many Canadians, but they had nothing to do with why an influential international publication ranks Canada highly on its annual list of the best places to live this week.

The Economist examines things like health care, culture, the economy and infrastructure in 140 cities in the world and ranked three Canadian cities in its Top 10 “most liveable” list — Vancouver was ranked third, Toronto fourth, and Calgary fifth, just behind Melbourne and Vienna.

The magazine appears to have a soft spot for mid-sized cities in rich countries with lots of space, as seven of the Top 10 ranked are in Canada or Australia. Helsinki and Auckland are also in the Top 10 and they would seem to share those traits.

The worst place to live on earth, according to the magazine, is Damascus, Syria.

Learn while you play

A California startup made headlines this week for inventing a new video game that teaches kids about software coding while they think they’re just playing games.

The co-founder of ThoughtSTEM told Amanda Lang this week that the company’s product is aimed at kids as young as six. “If you start to think that way as a young child, it becomes much easier to grasp the more difficult concepts when you’re older,” he said.

The app, like a Lego set for the digital age, disguises its lessons with the popular Minecraft video game. Players use real programming language they’ve learned to build new levels and keep playing.

Expensive mistakes

From one youthful obsession to another, the CBC’s Sophia Harris reported this week on the growing business trend of tattoo removal. It seems the business is booming, thanks to thousands of teenagers who got all sorts of ink done years ago shelling out to get rid of all those ill-advised Tweety Bird tatts as adults.

The procedure isn’t cheap — as much as $5,000 over multiple treatments, in some cases — nor is it painless. As one poor fellow who had it done described it: “It almost feels like you’re getting electrocuted, pinched all at once and times that by 10.”

If that doesn’t convince you to think twice about that tribal symbol branded on your neck, nothing will.

Those were some of our most-read stories on our website this week. Be sure and check back often for more news, and remember to follow us on Twitter here.

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