Friday, June 03, 2011

Putting the "Competition" in Canadian Telecommunications

But there's no "competition" in Canadian Telecommunications?

Anyone old enough to fold open a newspaper (or those of us with a vested interest) has been inundated with the trials and tribulations of WIND mobile, a foreign company that fought to conduct business in Canada, and won, lost, won, maybe lost, sort of won back, and finally won. Having followed the process it seemed odd that it was getting so much press time, but after the CRTC's latest ruling, I can understand why. They were just playing at competition.

The large telecom providers in Canada have enjoyed an oligopoly in recent times, and this has been reflected in their push to instate usage based billing (UBB). They were stopped, at least temporarily, by the CRTC, and for a while it seemed like the CRTC was on our side. But it is clear we were just being strung along until after the election.

Since the only companies with the financial backing to build infrastructure are the telecom giants, new start-ups have to 'borrow' tower space for their subscribers. In a really dick move Rogers negotiated a deal with WIND, allowing their subscribers to use Roger's towers, but then giving their own users preferential treatment to the point that any WIND customer unlucky enough to stray into that zone is automatically dropped and must redial.

That's just the 'price of admission', the cost of start-up. They should stop whining.
Not enough dick for you? Rogers went ahead and advertised that their new Chatr service has "fewer dropped calls than new wireless carriers.” That's cold.

WIND did what any sensible company feeling unduly trod on would do - they went to the CRTC, who promptly ruled they didn't have enough evidence of preferential treatment, and dropped WIND on their heiney. Not because the behavior existed, they noted it did, but because the subsequent ad campaign did not cause enough of an imbalance in the consumer's view, and the contract did not specify that there needed to be seamless transitioning.

Further to that, the CRTC decided it wasn't going to dirty its hands with the issue of seamless roaming anymore, but companies are free to negotiate it amongst themselves. A powerful draw like seamless call transition is too valuable to give up for a small price, however, especially at the possible cost of their own customer's convenience, so it is likely new companies will be forced to contend without it, especially WIND, since the CRTC noted it would not allow WIND to renegotiate its contract with Rogers.

I wish I could advocate a system of impartial, federally owned towers, but the notion that the government has control of my cellphone is just too scary to accept, especially considering Bills B-52 and B-51.  

I suspect, considering roaming charges and the 'newsworthy' aspect of people outraged by huge bills, that this development will help WIND for a while, since people are notified immediately when they begin to incur roaming fees, but the question is whether people will appreciate it in time or simply find it a hindrance.

1 comment:

Jimmy said...

This sucks. No really. No competition - no progress. And high rates.

Cheap international calls