Responding to years of consumer frustration with the state of Canadian wireless pricing, Canada’s political parties have propelled the issue on to the election campaign agenda. The telecom giants will disagree, but study after study has found that Canadians pay more for wireless services than consumers in most other developed economies. But though just about everyone agrees we have a problem, my Globe and Mail op-ed notes there remains considerable debate over what to do about it.
Telecom by yum9me (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/53jSy4
The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 25: The CRTC Decision on Competitive Internet Pricing – A Conversation With George Burger
Last month, Canada’s telecom regulator, the CRTC, issued its final decision in a lengthy battle over the rates that independent Internet providers pay for wholesale access to the broadband networks run by big incumbents such as Bell and Rogers. The Commission slashed previous rates and made its decision retroactive, an approach that sparked anger and lawsuits from the incumbents who are now in Canadian courts seeking to overturn the ruling and stop it from taking effect. Meanwhile, several Canadian independent ISPs wasted no time in responding to the decision, dropping their consumer prices and neatly illustrating the impact of lower rates and more competition. George Burger, one of the founders of vMedia and a frequent commentator on Canadian telecom issues, joined me on the podcast to discuss the decision and the state of competition for Canadian Internet services.
The Cultural Lobby Demands for Internet Taxes and Fees: The Forgotten Piece in Canada’s Lower Wireless and Internet Cost Puzzle
Over the past few weeks, both the National Post and Reuters have reported that the Liberals plan to include lower Internet and wireless costs as part of the fall election campaign. The reports indicate that reforms could include price caps or a firm commitment to facilitating the entry of new competitors in the form of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). I’ve posted regularly on Canada’s high wireless prices and efforts to address the issue (here, here, here, here, and here), which remain uncompetitive relative to many other countries (some of the reasons why are discussed in this LawBytes podcast episode with Antonios Drossos of Rewheel Research).
Telecom and broadcast policy figured prominently in season one of the Law Bytes podcast. With Canada currently studying potential reforms and cultural issues emerging as a possible electoral issue, there are no shortage of issues worth of discussion. Given its role as a telecom and broadcast regulator, the CRTC was the subject of several episodes: Monica Auer of FRPC talked about her extensive access to information work on the CRTC, while former CRTC Commissioner Peter Menzies joined the podcast to help sort through Cancon funding, Internet regulation, and the role of the Commission.
Canada has a well-earned reputation for some of the highest wireless prices in the world with numerous comparative studies finding that consumers pay relatively high prices for low amounts of data. There are obviously many factors behind pricing, but for many consumers the top line issue is how much does the wireless service cost and how much data do I get? Rewheel Research, a Finland based consultancy, has been at the forefront of pricing comparisons with extensive analysis of mobile data pricing in countries around the world. Its reports have often called out Canada, recently noting that prices are “a world apart” from more competitive markets. With Canadian telco giant Telus commissioning a study to challenge the Rewheel research, I’m joined this week on the Lawbytes podcast by Antonios Drossos, managing partner of the firm, who talked to me from Helsinki about their findings, what lies behind Canada’s wireless pricing, and the Telus-backed study.