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Thread: Wireless Competition in Canada

  1. #1
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    Wireless Competition in Canada

    Competition Bureau calls for ’true competition’ in Canada’s wireless market
    Globe and Mail, June 19 2018
    Christine Dobby

    article in full at the Globe

    Canada’s competition watchdog says the CRTC’s plan to force the biggest companies to offer low-cost data packages is not a substitute for “true competition,” arguing in a rare intervention that price controls should be only a temporary measure.
    ...
    “[Low-cost, data-only] plans are not a substitute for true competition in this industry,” the bureau said in its filing, adding that they should be imposed “on a temporary basis only, until such time that the CRTC can establish longer-term, more robust solutions to competition problems and other public policy issues that may exist in this marketplace.”

    The Competition Bureau has provided its input in nine CRTC proceedings over the past five years, a spokesman said on Tuesday. It has previously highlighted its concerns over the “market power” that exists in Canada’s wireless industry, saying the incumbent operators earn higher profits and a greater rate of return than they would in a more competitive market.

    The watchdog’s comments come amid heightened scrutiny of the industry, as Navdeep Bains, the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, has called on the CRTC to hold a public probe into high-pressure sales tactics at the largest telecom companies.
    ...
    The Competition Bureau did suggest there are hopeful signs, noting, “The establishment of fourth carriers in some parts of Canada demonstrates the opportunity for a more competitive future.”

    Freedom, which operates in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, has been improving its network and added a record 93,500 new customers in its latest quarter. The company also sparked a deal frenzy in December when the Big Three carriers offered limited-time promotions responding to Freedom’s low-cost monthly plans with large data buckets.
    ...
    In its filing, the Competition Bureau emphasized that mandated prices for such plans should be high enough to cover the carriers’ costs and still provide an incentive to invest. However, it also noted that the proposed prices ranged from 326 per cent to 352 per cent higher than what the incumbents charge smaller carriers when their customers travel and roam on the bigger companies’ networks.
    ...
    Macquarie Capital Markets Canada analyst Greg MacDonald also highlighted Ottawa’s call for a public inquiry on sales practices, as well as the government’s recent spectrum announcements.

    “Given the government’s consistent pro-consumer stance, we believe we will see additional spectrum reserved for wireless ‘new entrants’ in future [spectrum] auctions,” he said in a report on Tuesday, adding that this, “in turn, reinforces our bullish stance on Shaw and Videotron’s growing wireless operations.”


    Competition Bureau Submission June 13 2018
    CRTC 2018-98 Lower-cost data-only plans

    --
    The Globe produces decent in-depth telecom coverage.
    Support quality journalism, consider a subscription (intro .99/wk).
    CBC industry coverage is good, more critical from a consumer perspective.
    Also worthwhile Financial Post telecom.
    Last edited by pjw918; 06-21-2018 at 12:11 PM.
    A Canadian tale of wireless competition, and Another
    From unjust discrimination to undue preference - a CRTC timeline

  2. #2
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    Canada's wireless sector has a competition problem
    London School of Economics, Media Policy Project
    Sabrina Wilkinson
    June 19 2018

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    Why? Because we can.

    Posted in the Freedom forum a while back, a rare and candid display of the Robellian mindset.

    ...a conversation with the retention's team at Bell Mobility.

    They said with Mobility, the Canadian market dominates with 3 major carriers [Bell, Telus & Rogers]. The discount brands are just a spin of the major carriers and should Freedom ever progress to a point of sustainability, the major carriers and/or their discount brands will price adjust accordingly to accommodate the market and ensure they remain on top. Somewhat of an arrogant statement but it's business and as the representative (whom I must say knew their wireless) said...

    "The major carriers received free licensing back in the day from the Government. This does not mean excessive amounts of money have not been put into building out and maintaining a network and this, sir... costs money. We used to bill for airtime and long distance and with changing technology, this became obsolete. We now charge for data and roaming and roaming is gradually becoming less expensive so data is our only real option for profit. As any business, we need to make profit. As such, we will continue operating as usual and change when and only when required to. Rest assured, if data became affordable like minutes/long distance/roaming have, we would be nothing more than a landline market which has essentially died but that's the joy of wireless, there will always be something which will be the new forefront of technology which we can 'bill for'. Freedom Mobile has made it's mark and unaware of the direction Shaw will take their purchased wireless division, I speak for all major carriers... we will follow and ensure we price match and in the end, Shaw will stand with us or remain a discount/limited provider".
    I cannot agree more with the comment but it's just sad how there's no real Canadian competition and our Government will not allow for it!

    https://www.howardforums.com/showthr...4#post16983174
    Last edited by pjw918; 06-29-2018 at 02:06 PM.

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    What will it take

    Canadian Wireless Carriers Generate the Highest Revenue with Lowest Data Usage: Study
    iPhoneinCanada.ca Jul 11 2018

    @jfmezei -
    What will it take for @MinisterISED to take action to open the MVNO market in Canada? Having the most expensive wireless services in the world doesn’t seem to be enough to prompt action.
    ...When you combine this with lobbying by carriers to prevent increased competition and preserve current high prices oligopoly, one wonders what must happen to have government change its mind on MVNO? A nationwide rebellion?
    There's an election coming up.
    Perhaps a timely reminder to our elected officials.
    The punitive cost of wireless service in Canada impacts all voters.

  5. #5
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    Canada has one of the world’s most protected telecom sectors — and the rates to show for it
    In an industry dominated by technologies that are already global, protectionism may be doing us more harm than good
    Financial Post, July 25
    Emily Jackson




    ...
    Canada’s rules came into effect in 1993. As it stands now, foreign ownership of a telecommunications company is limited to no more than 20 per cent of a company’s voting shares... On top of that, at least 80 per cent of the board members must be Canadian citizens.

    Canada kept these strict rules even as international telecommunications market started to shed protectionism in 1997, when 69 countries, including the U.S., committed to opening up markets through a World Trade Organization agreement.

    But in 2012, Canada slightly loosened its rules, absolving companies with less than a 10-per-cent market share from any foreign ownership restrictions. No foreign entity has moved into Canada under these relaxed rules.

    One reason: The Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development still ranks Canada’s sector as among the most restrictive alongside Iceland, South Korea, Mexico, Israel and Japan.
    ...
    But if the point of foreign ownership is more competition, [former CRTC commissioner Timothy Denton] isn’t convinced that lifting foreign ownership restrictions would do much...

    Nevertheless, the industry has faced a lot of criticism, especially since Canada has some of the highest wireless prices and some of the lowest consumption rates in the world, according to numerous studies based on OECD and CRTC data...

    To improve competition, Denton called for wireless resale, where small competitors could sell services on larger networks without spending billions to duplicate the infrastructure. The CRTC refused to mandate wholesale access to wireless networks earlier this year, but will consider the policy in the future.
    ...

    in-depth article, read in full at Financial Post

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    How Canada's oligopolies have been big winners for investors
    Financial Post, Jul 30

    ...our nation has become a land of oligopolies. Sectors like our banks and telecommunications have become highly concentrated and protected from outside threats due to government legislation and our relatively small population that is geographically dispersed.

    This lack of outside competition has allowed these companies to not only maintain their market share but also retain some very robust profit margins on their products and services. While this isn’t good for consumers who have little choice but to accept exceptionally high wireless, banking and investment fees these sectors have been a great place for investors especially when compared to their peers south of the border.
    ...

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    Telus vs. Telus: Who Do You Believe on Wireless Competition in Canada?
    Michael Geist, Aug 9 2018

    In response to the Competition Bureau’s report, Telus argued that the CRTC should “reject the Bureau’s submission in its entirety.”
    Entwistle maintained that “we got more competitors in the wireless industry in Canada than just about any country in the world”

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    Heated competition cools wireless price growth
    Globe and Mail, Aug 12 2018
    Christine Dobby

    Canada’s wireless market has been churning out new subscribers at a fast pace for the past two years, but the wave of customers now comes with stalling prices, because of larger monthly data packages and increased competitive pressures.
    ...
    But the major new trend that emerged from the second quarter was a decline in what used to be predictably strong increases in monthly prices. The industry now uses average billing per user (ABPU) as a key metric to gauge growth, and while Rogers maintained ABPU growth of 4 per cent in the quarter, both BCE and Telus posted ABPU increases of just 0.6 per cent, down from previous years.

    To be clear, the average amount the companies charge customers every month is still high: $64.80 for Rogers, $67.24 for Telus and $67.71 for BCE...

    Yet RBC Securities Inc. analyst Drew McReynolds says to look for a “continued deceleration in wireless ABPU growth," pointing to increased competition from Freedom Mobile, which is investing in its network, distribution and handset lineup and began offering a range of lower-priced plans with large monthly data packages last fall.
    ...
    In a report earlier this month, Mr. McReynolds also pointed to government and regulatory scrutiny as a factor in slower price growth. ...the CRTC itself has asked the Big Three to propose new low-cost, data-only wireless plans. But the incumbents desperately want to avoid even more regulation of their industry, which could include rules mandating that they resell airtime to new competitors without networks of their own.

    Telus chief executive Darren Entwistle highlighted regulatory risk as a factor making lower ABPU growth the “new normal,” stating during the company’s second-quarter conference call: "I think we’ve shown as an industry that we can make a lot more money for shareholders, and do a lot better for customers, through strong competitive intensity amongst the players of the industry versus near-term profit aggrandizement that invites regulatory interventions.

    “What I’m saying here is to be mindful of inviting that eventuality by being overt in our expectations that [ABPU] accretion can happen on an endless basis," he added.
    ...

    - article in full at the Globe

  9. #9
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    'Blatant and malicious': Ice Wireless says Telus stopping calls to its customers
    CBC Aug 15 2018

    The CEO and president of Ice Wireless is claiming Telus has been actively stopping calls from Telus customers to Ice Wireless customers since May 29, 2018, in a complaint to Canada's telecommunications regulator.

    "Imagine a road, and instead of making it two lanes or three lanes, they made it down to half a lane," said Samer Bishay, the president of Ice Wireless and its parent company, Iristel.

    Iristel submitted an official application to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission [CRTC], which oversees all telecommunications networks in Canada and makes sure they comply with legislation.

    The application asks the CRTC to step in immediately to stop Telus from blocking these calls, and Bishay says they hope to receive punitive damages once the case is settled.

    According to Bishay, Iristel has received hundreds of complaints over the summer regarding the inability to receive calls from customers using the Telus network.

    This includes people who use other carriers, but are being temporarily rerouted through a Telus network.

    Telus was "probably going to pass the calls one, maybe one out of ten times," Bishay said. If you're not the one in ten, "you're going to get a network congestion busy message pop up on the screen."

    Iristel alleges a Telus technician admitted to Ice Wireless that they knew they were stopping calls to Ice Wireless customers, and that it was intentional. These details are not part of the public record, but have been submitted to the CRTC.

    "I have not seen anybody blatantly disregard the Telecom Act like this ever, so honestly speaking I think this will be the first of its kind," said Bishay.
    ...

    --
    CRTC shuts down Sugar Mobile in big victory for Rogers, Big 3
    Sugar Mobile could shake up cellphone oligopoly in Canada

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    CRTC orders Telus to stop blocking cellphone traffic to the North
    CBC Nov 23 2018

    Friday's ruling gave Telus Dec. 3 as the deadline to ensure all calls to Iristel's users in northern Canada with an 867 area code connect normally.
    It also requires that Telus file a report with the CRTC confirming they've done so by the deadline.
    Canada's telecommunications regulator has issued a temporary order ruling Telus needs to make sure calls from its customers get through to Ice Wireless customers in northern Canada.

    The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) granted two interim relief requests Friday in an ongoing dispute involving Telus and Iris Technologies Inc. Each company made those requests as part of their submissions in the case earlier this year.

    Iristel — the parent company of Ice Wireless — alleges Telus is actively blocking calls from Telus customers to Ice Wireless customers, and has been doing so since May 29.

    Telus insists it's not blocking any calls. Instead, it says it's taking steps to "control the flow of traffic to Iristel," according to a Sept. 10 submission to the CRTC.

    Telus argues that it's doing this because Iristel is engaging in traffic stimulation, a practice where Iristel numbers in northern Canada are assigned to services not located in the North, illegally boosting its profits from a previous agreement with Telus.

    The CRTC has yet to rule on the validity of either claim, but says in the meantime, the reduced capacity on the network "is not reasonable nor in the public interest" and the issue of calls not being completed needs to be addressed in an "expeditious manner".

    10 days to change

    The telecommunications regulator cited call failures reported by Iristel in its application and reporting from CBC News earlier this fall as evidence in the ruling.

    Friday's ruling gave Telus Dec. 3 as the deadline to ensure all calls to Iristel's users in northern Canada with an 867 area code connect normally. It also requires that Telus file a report with the CRTC confirming they've done so by the deadline.

    It also granted Telus' request to make the fees Iristel charges to use its network "interim." That leaves open the possibility the CRTC could order compensation to Telus if the regulator rules in its favour.

    It's not clear when the CRTC will make its final ruling in the case.

    --
    Telecom Decision CRTC 2018-432
    'It's frustrating': N.W.T. cancer patient feels trapped by warring telecom companies

  11. #11
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    Canada has one of the world’s most protected telecom sectors — and the rates to show for it
    In an industry dominated by technologies that are already global, protectionism may be doing us more harm than good
    Financial Post, July 25
    No downside to making Bell, Rogers and Telus compete with foreign companies, according to government analysis
    The Logic, Nov 26 2018

    Opening up Canada’s market to foreign telecommunications companies will lead to lower prices for internet and cell phone plans, increase overall economic growth, and could even boost the stock prices of domestic giants like Rogers, Telus and Bell, according to a federal government analysis.

    The analysis, classified secret, was prepared for senior government officials overseeing the rewriting of the Telecommunications Act and the Broadcasting Act, both of which limit foreign companies’ ability to sell internet or mobile phone plans in Canada...



    Google goes all-in on MVNO
    FierceWireless, Nov 28 2018

    Google changed the name of its MVNO service from Project Fi to Google Fi and added a new bring-your-own-device option that will allow the service to work on most Android phones and iPhones.
    ...
    The timing of Google’s new investment into its MVNO is also interesting considering a number of other major brands are entering the U.S. wireless industry through MVNOs. Cable giants Comcast and Charter are currently selling mobile services in their respective cable footprints via MVNO deals with Verizon, while cable company Altice plans to join the space next year through an MVNO deal with Sprint.


    --
    Government launches review of Telecommunications Act
    Last edited by pjw918; 11-28-2018 at 09:48 PM.

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