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.
Post Tagged with: "Wireless"
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.
Message Received: Why Unlimited Wireless Plans Show Government’s Emphasis on New Competition is Being Heard
Long available in other countries, “unlimited” wireless plans arrived among the big three carriers in Canada yesterday with Rogers launching new unlimited options that offer 10 GB of data at full speed and unlimited additional data at a far slower speeds of 256Kbps. While some criticize the throttled overage speeds or the inferiority of the Canadian plans when compared to what is available in the U.S., this is a good step for consumers that ration their data each month in fear of incurring significant overage charges. Indeed, the comparative data shows Canadian consumers use less data than consumers elsewhere, particularly subscribers with Rogers, Bell, and Telus. Moreover, with carriers generating more than $1 billion per year in overage fees, the change is not trivial with some analysts characterizing the move as a negative for Canada’s wireless industry.
Supporting a More Competitive Canadian Wireless Market: Speak Out on Navdeep Bains’ Proposed CRTC Policy Direction
Last month, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains took his most significant policy step to date to address telecommunications concerns by issuing a proposed policy direction to the CRTC based on competition, affordability, consumer interests, and innovation. As I noted at the time, the proposed policy direction will make a difference as those perspectives will become a more prominent part of the regulatory process that cannot be easily dismissed.
“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: