Goldberg vs. Saunders, Round Two

Mark Goldberg and Alec Saunders renew their debate on the wireless market in Canada as Goldberg responds to the Ottawa Citizen editorial on the issue.  Much of the discussion surrounds the Citizen's concern about the ability to attract and retain communications companies in Canada.  I believe that the Citizen was trying to make the case – rightly in my view – that the long-term ability to attract and retain that talent and investment requires a forward looking law and policy infrastructure that supports sufficient competition to allow for pricing that is globally competitive.  Given the number of people who have written to note that they cannot offer their services in Canada due to high data prices, the Citizen is right to ask whether that situation will ultimately lead to losses in the Canadian communications industry.


  1. Development says:

    As a software developer in Canada, I can confirm that our ability to program for phones in Canada is limited if-not-impossible. Most of the carriers disable even the machinery to upload data to the phones (even though most are technically capible).

    They create sophistocated program signing technologies to ensure that if you do want an application, it\’s developed by one of their \’partners\’ and costs an arm and a leg. No f/loss opensource development here folks.

    But is Mark right that there are all these company\’s creating applications — is the industry \’thriving\’. Hardly. See while there may be a few members of the old boys club, new entrants aren\’t allowed to just create applications without asking permission. There\’s no free competition, no free market, no innovation — and worst, the browsers are so crippled that any \’unlimited browser\’ plan (im looking at you bell) is amazingly hard to even use a meg or two a month.

    Open Devices, Open Applications — where\’s the crtc already.

  2. Marshall B. says:

    Let’s talk about the implications of opening up cell phones so that we can create more jobs for boutique software developers in Canada.

    On the surface, this sounds like a good idea, but when you consider that there are several dozen cell phone manufacturers around the world and they each have their own unique operating systems and chipsets for their phones, the thought of 18 million Canadians downloading applications onto their cell phones causes me some concerns.

    It is highly unlikely that boutique software development shops are going to have the resources to test their applications on every type of cell phone before offering it up for sale. That means that consumers are going to be the “test pilots” to see how all of these uncertified applications work together on their phones. Many are going to run into application conflicts on their phones and they are going to need more technical support than the wireless carriers are able to provide, unless they hire more tech support staff and pass that cost along to consumers in their monthly fees.

    Perhaps another solution is to get all the handset manufacturers to agree to use a common operating system. I suspect Microsoft would be interested in providing such a system.

    Perhaps another possibility is for the creation of a whole new technical support industry for cell phones, simlar to the Geek Squad idea that has evolved to support the home PC market.

    Certainly some opportunities but also some trade-offs.