Restrictions inflate cellphone costs for users: Globalive
Wind Mobile exec says curbs on foreign investment play into hands of Rogers, Bell, Telus; B.C. wineries look further afield for customers
Federal laws that restrict foreign investment are keeping mobile phone costs unnecessarily high for Canadian consumers, the chairman of telecom sector upstart Globalive said Friday in Vancouver.
Tony Lacavera dropped by Globalive's Wind Mobile retail outlet in Yaletown to commemorate the first full year of the company's mobile service in Vancouver. The retail promotion involved an offer of "lightly loved" BlackBerry smartphones for $1, for which about 200 people lined up before the outlet opened Friday morning.
In one year of operation, Wind Mobile has signed up about 300,000 customers in five Canadian markets including Vancouver -where the company has attracted about 40,000 subscribers, according to Lacavera.
A day earlier, he was in Toronto lambasting the $16-billion sector's dominant Canadian-based players -Telus, Rogers Communications and Bell Canada -at a telecom summit.
Globalive, its Wind Mobile brand and its deep-pocketed Egyptian financial backers are a political football.
In 2009, the federal Conservative government issued a cabinet order that enabled the company to move into the Canadian market in spite of its ties to Egypt-based Orascom Telecom Holding. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission rejected that order and the CRTC's action was subsequently supported in Federal Court.
That ruling is now being appealed.
If the Conservatives' position is upheld, Lacavera said, consumers will win through greater competition and lower prices.
"There are tremendous constraints currently in Canada," he said.
"It's really the only market in the developed world, in fact one of the few markets remaining in the world, period, that still have a requirement for [domestic] -in our case Canadian -control of telecommunications companies.
"Canadians are experiencing some of the highest prices in the world. It's because we have greatly restricted our telecommunications market. We've made it a market where three big players completely dominate the market. We need to aggressively fight their anticompetitive prices."
Lacavera said the issue is complicated by the fact that Rogers and Bell both own television properties - and there's a perception that allowing foreign competition in the mobile sector could eventually pose a threat to Canada's cultural sovereignty.
Meanwhile, Lacavera acknowledged that the company still has work to do to show customers it can provide reliable service.
Full Story: Vancouver Sun
Canada needs more competition in this market. What we have now are 3 big players (Bell, Rogers and Telus) which are keeping prices of using mobile communication at levels other countries shook off years ago.