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Canada’s Wireless Giants are Scared

Dollar signIn the past couple of weeks, the CEOs of Canada’s three biggest wireless phone providers voiced opposition to the preferential treatment U.S.-based Verizon is receiving from the federal government to enter this country’s wireless market.

Rogers Communications’ Nadir Mohamed, Bell’s George Cope and Darren Entwistle of Telus called it unfair that they are barred from participating in a 700 megahertz spectrum auction next year. Telus has even taken the government to court over the issue.

Using fear-mongering tactics, they have said having a fourth national wireless provider won’t work in a country such as Canada. They have said that foreign-owned companies shouldn’t be able to buy up the airways. In a touch of irony, they have even claimed they are in favour of more competition in the market, but want a “level-playing field.”

The truth is they are scared. Who likes competition?

Canada’s wireless market has not seen a serious competitor in a long time (sorry Wind and Mobilcity, you were never that.) We must give credit to these giants for growing the wireless empires they have grown over the years. But this has led to a noncompetitive market, and Canadians are paying the price with high fees, poor service and long service plans. If you are an executive at one of these giants, you would have to be insane to want more competition in this environment.

If we look at the issues these companies have brought up, we can see some large flaws in their arguments. Let’s focus on the ones I mentioned above:

Control of Airwaves – This is an ironic argument, especially when you consider Bell’s position in Canada’s media market. That company has made every effort to buy up as much Canadian media as possible. Instead of being concerned about foreign companies providing service on our airwaves, we should be more concerned about one Canadian company monopolizing them.

Fourth Provider Won’t Work –  Maybe they are right and Verizon’s entrance into this market will turn out to be an epic flop. Maybe Canadians will end up hating Verizon as much as the others. Who cares? That is what a truly competitive market will determine. Simply stating that it won’t work is not enough of a reason to stop it. This is their pettiest argument of them all.

Market Fairness – In order for a more competitive and fair market, the government needs to step to see this happen. Bell and Rogers specifically have become so big that they no longer have to truly compete. When there are only three nationwide providers, no one really has anything to sweat about except for consumers. When these wireless firms talk about fairness, they are obviously referring to themselves. But how about fairness for consumers? If there are more competitors in the market than it will truly become fair for all wireless providers as well as Canadians.

What scares these wireless giants more than anything isn’t the Canadian government, but their own customers. Canadians would gladly welcome another nationwide service provider. In a Forum Research poll released last month, 71 percent of those polled agreed that Verizon’s entrance into the country would be good for Canadian consumers. Sixty-five percent agreed that it would would be good for the wireless industry in general.

The country’s wireless giants are scared – and they should be. Canadian consumers are demanding more and their government (in this case) is listening. I hope for the sake of Bell, Rogers and Telus they are serious about their love of competition. Because that is exactly what they will need to do.

Agree with me? Think I’m full of crap? Tell me about it in the comment section below.

About Greg Markey

Greg is a social media and digital marketing consultant who loves writing about business, technology, innovation and startups. He holds a degree in political science and history from St. Francis Xavier University, as well as a diploma in Journalism from Algonquin College. He lives in Edmonton with his wife and three kids..


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