• Insights from LawBytes

    Episode 21 of Michael Geist's LawBytes podcast features an interview with Antonios Drossos of Rewheel/research. That Finnish consultancy firm has just published a report on the state of 4G pricing in mid-2019, with bad news for wireless subscribers in Canada, the USA and also Japan:

    What is wrong with competition in the Canadian, Japanese and US markets?
    • Gigabyte prices in the Canadian, Japanese and US markets are a universe apart from prices in 4-MNO competitive large European markets or from the ultra-competitive Israeli 5-MNO market.
    • The median smartphone plan gigabyte price in Canada was 24 times higher while in Japan and the US was 15 times higher than median prices in 4-MNO competitive large European markets.
    (MNO=mobile network operator)

    You might think that this report is—for Canada, at least—already out of date, as it doesn't reflect the new plans with "unlimited" data from our Big Three carriers. But we need to remember that the cost of entry to unlimited (throttled) data from Bell, Rogers or Telus is $75 CAD/month; for anyone who can't afford this the cost per gigabyte of LTE data remains significantly higher than in other parts of the world.

    Here are some additional insights from the interview:

    1. Per-gigabyte prices fall faster in 4-MNO markets than 3-MNO markets.

    In the case of Canada Drossos acknowledges that Freedom Mobile is "en route" to becoming a 4th national carrier, but isn't quite there yet.

    In the case of the USA Drossos says that operators try to convince everyone that consolidation provides more capital to invest in infrastructure. But France went from 3 MNOs to 4 between 2012 and 2018, and overall network investment actually increased during that same period.

    2. MVNOs ultimately don't work.

    A fairly contentious statement, this, so a direct quote for context:

    "There is no wholesale access offer that they will make an MVNO to offer 10 times or 100 times more gigabytes for the same price that the network operators are offering in the market. Because obviously the network operators will never agree to such a wholesale offer."
    3. Finland has as many cell towers as all of Canada.

    To the delight of this country's telco shills, Drossos seems to have his numbers wrong on this one: in the podcast he claims that Canada and Finland each have about 7,000 cell sites; according to Industry Canada it's more like 13,000 for us. But there's still something instructive here in terms of network density:

    37,410,000 people / 13,000 cell towers=2,878 people per cell tower

    5,530,000 people / 7,000 cell towers=790 people per cell tower

    TL;DR Anyone who tells you that Canada's mobile networks are better than their Nordic counterparts is probably in the pocket of Bell, Rogers or Telus. Our data certainly isn't as cheap, that's for sure!

    Links: LawBytes, Rewheel/research

    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Insights from LawBytes started by acurrie View original post
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Mr.Peppermint's Avatar
      Mr.Peppermint -
      Are you seriously trying to compare Canada to FINLAND now???

      I'm glad they pay less since it is nearly impossible to get a cell phone in that country (I even have a relative there lol)

      In Canada we walk into a local mall run a credit check and walk out with a phone
      Show the kid a drivers license maybe a credit card

      In Finland you need a PERFECT credit score (no late payments on file) your passport and a Finnish identity code (henkilötunnus)
      They can access ALL your info at will (even stuff like marital status, place of birth* etc)
      Failing any of these they will ask for a BIG deposit

      *and they are super racist many nationalities claim being denied service

      Even should you pass all that price are nowhere near *24 times cheaper* as the article claims

      3 major national carriers, prices here:
      why even mention Freedom / 4 carriers nonsense? Finland IS a3 carrier system!

      Coverage is far worse than ours (as 4G is only in major cities, after that you drop down to 3G or 2G)
      All network operators cover a pretty good area of Finland, leaving only the most remote areas without signal. Basic 2G and 3G networks offer the greatest coverage, while fast 4G is available in most of the cities. Next generation networks, like 5G and 6G, are developing as the network providers work to improve their networks.

      If you decide to get a Finnish phone number and you need to travel to Europe, you should be able to use your Finnish number at the same rate as in Finland. Pay attention to your data as even if you have unlimited data in Finland, you might have limits abroad.

      If you are calling a country outside the EU/EEA, you might pay surprisingly high rates. It’s possible to choose which operator handles your international calls, allowing you to shop around for the best rates. The rates differ dramatically between networks and depend on what country you are calling.
    1. Mr.Peppermint's Avatar
      Mr.Peppermint -
      Ah found the racism details & link

      DNA and Telia have advised that visitors to Expat Finland do not fit their marketing profile.
      Foreign residents in Finland have faced obstacles with certain Finnish telecoms. For example, in 2016 Telia (formerly Sonera) published a short-lived 'Finns Only' policy for purchase of mobile devices by instalments. The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman indicated such a sales policy appeared to contravene Finland’s anti-discrimination laws. Source: Yle News

      A senior officer from the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman told Yle that a sales policy which is only available to people of a specific nationality appears on the face of it to contravene Finland’s anti-discrimination laws, although pointed out that without proper investigation it is not possible to say if Sonera breached any rules with its policy.

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