Post Tagged with: "competition"

Verizon by Mike Mozart (CC BY 2.0)

“Immediate War Footing”: Phil Lind Recounts the Big Three Battle Against Wireless Competition in Canada

This week’s report that Canada is an outlier on wireless services with carriers generating more revenue per SIM than carriers in other countries and Canadian consumers on the low end of data usage, represents the latest in a long line of similar independent reports that confirm Canada’s status as a high-cost, low usage wireless market. Indeed, a government-commissioned comparative study, CRTC data, OECD data, and Rewheel Research all tell a similar story. Given that there is little to debate about the state of Canadian wireless pricing, the big question is now what Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains is prepared to do about it.

A new book from long-time Rogers executive Phil Lind provides insights into the backlash that any significant efforts to inject more competition into the market is likely to face from the incumbent carriers. The book contains several pages recounting the carrier battle in 2013 against Verizon entering the Canadian market with the active support of the then-Harper government. The story pulls back the curtain on lobbying efforts that involve active coordination by top tier executives at each company, active lobbying of MPs, journalists, and market analysts, as well as advertising campaigns designed to fight back against market-opening policy measures. Lind starts the story:

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January 24, 2019 3 comments News
By MalwareFighter - Own work, Public Domain,

Why Bell’s Plan to Buy MTS Could Kill the Government’s Fourth Wireless Carrier Strategy

Bell announced plans this morning to buy MTS, the Manitoba-based wireless carrier that has been critical to creating a more competitive wireless market in the province. The nearly $4 billion deal would include a commitment to divest one-third of MTS wireless customers to Telus. The agreement is still subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals along with figuring out how some customers go to Telus and some stay with Bell. While the government has yet to articulate a clear strategy for wireless competition in Canada, the deal appears to kill the hope of four carriers in each market and will likely mean sharply increased prices for Manitoba consumers.

With the four competitors in Manitoba – Bell, Telus, Rogers, and MTS – the province features some of the lowest wireless prices in Canada. Compare Bell’s wireless pricing for consumers in Manitoba and Ontario. The cost of an unlimited nationwide calling share plan in Manitoba is $50. The same plan in Ontario is $65. The difference in data costs are even larger: Bell offers 6 GB for $20 in Manitoba. The same $20 will get you just 500 MB in Ontario. In fact, 5 GB costs $50 in Ontario, more than double the cost in Manitoba for less data. The other carriers such as Rogers and Telus also offer lower pricing in Manitoba. The reason is obvious: the presence of a fourth carrier creates more competition and lower pricing. With MTS out of the way – and Bell and Telus sharing the same wireless network – prices are bound to increase to levels more commonly found in the rest of the country.

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May 2, 2016 26 comments News

Canadian Regulators Place Google’s Business Model Under Microscope

Among the many Internet success stories of the past two decades, Google stands alone. The undisputed king of search, hundreds of millions rely on it daily, supporting an Internet advertising business model that generates tens of billions of dollars annually.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that kind of success invariably leads to legal and regulatory issues, though most of Google’s legal fights have focused on content, such as the inclusion of controversial websites in its search index, the digitization of millions of books through its book search initiative, and the removal of links that may lead to websites that host infringing content.   

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January 21, 2014 7 comments Columns

Industry Minister James Moore’s Commitment to Wireless Competition, Resolution Style

Whereas the 2013 OECD Communications Outlook ranked Canada among the ten most expensive countries for wireless services in virtually every category;

Whereas the Wall Report commissioned by Industry Canada and the CRTC found that Canadian prices are on the high side in nearly every category of wireless service;

Whereas the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association has argued that consumers would be willing to pay more for wireless services and Telus has said that given our geography Canada should be the most expensive country for the wireless services in the OECD;

Whereas Canada has long been one of the only developed economy countries with significant restrictions on telecom foreign investment and has been characterized as the most restrictive in the OECD;

Whereas Bell has consistently opposed or sought to delay changes to the foreign investment rules;

Whereas the government announced a telecom policy last year that opened the door to greater foreign investment and rules designed to facilitate new entrants to the marketplace;

Whereas Telus described that policy as “thoughtful and balanced”;

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August 1, 2013 8 comments News

Competition Not Contracts: The Real Reason Canadian Wireless Prices Are on the Rise

This week, Telus and Bell announced new wireless pricing plans based on two-year contracts (Rogers has said their plans will be released shortly). Those plans – particularly those from Telus which seems to be taking its suggestion that Canada should be the most expensive wireless country seriously – feature higher prices, which some claim are the product of the shift from three-year contracts to what is effectively a two-year maximum under the new CRTC wireless code. The narrative behind these cost increases is that consumers are amortizing the cost of their device over a shorter period of time and therefore can expect higher monthly fees. This argument is perfect for the carriers as they get to blame the CRTC (and by extension, the Competition Bureau, consumer groups and consumers themselves) with an “I told you so” for the increased prices. Yet the higher costs are not strictly a function of shorter contracts, but rather a product of Canada’s uncompetitive marketplace. 

Many other countries have two-year contracts with cheaper rates and bigger device subsidies. This is because consumer price is not primarily a function of contract length or device cost, but rather marketplace competition. For example, Spain’s wireless pricing has been dropping in recent months as their four major carriers find consumers more aggressively shopping for better prices or cancelling their wireless services altogether. In response, all four Spanish carriers are dropping prices to stop the churn and attract new customers. For example, BGR reports that Yoigo (owned by Telstra) has offered free iPhone 5’s on two-year contracts for as little as 25 euros (C$34) per month (the article emphasizes how competition through innovative pricing has led to profit declines at incumbent carriers). The decline in price is illustrative of why it is competition, not “regulatory costs” or device subsidies, that are the key factor to consider.

[Update 7/27: A commentator below helpfully points out an inaccuracy in the BGR article since the Yoigo price was for phone only and not service. A fuller comparison of the Spanish offer is as follows: Yoigo for 24 months of 25 euro phone + 25 euro service (unlimited voice + 1 GB data) is C$1636.24. Add another 12 months of service for C$409.56. Total three year cost is $2047.80. Bell’s current offer on an iPhone 5 with the same voice and data for three years is $179.95 for the phone, $35 for the activation, and $70 per month of the service for 36 months. Total three year cost (not including taxes) is $2734.95.]

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July 18, 2013 19 comments News