The Big Fix

TheBigFixPix

Have you ever felt scammed. Like the fix was in. Like the major companies we have no choice but to trust are colluding to keep prices artificially high. For most big oil, big banks or insurance company’s come to mind. Rarely are we handed the proof of the swindle on a silver platter. In the case of your phone provider you know the saying, “Give ‘em enough rope…”

For years we have all suspected our wireless providers have been gouging us. Canadians pay more for wireless service than most other jurisdictions around the globe. We are continually fed the line that Canada is a big country, infrastructure costs more and costs need to be past on, blah, blah, blah… Truth is we all plug our noses and reluctantly go back to our digital masters, knowing we are over a barrel, with no choice and virtually no competition we end up overpaying for service.

For years the industry giants have tried to keep upstarts such as Public Mobile, Mobilicity and Wind on the fringe. Squeezing the first two to the brink by creating several so called discount brands and flooding the marketplace. A brilliant ploy designed to bamboozle consumers, bury the upstarts and ultimately maintain control of the market.

Wind, the largest of the last round of upstarts was a tougher nut to crack. The company was better equiped financially to withstand anti-competitive practices. Big telecom took a different approach to bring the new kid on the block to its knees – litigation. They filed strings of arguments with the CRTC suggesting Wind didn’t meet Canadian ownership laws or anything else they thought may or may not stick with the CRTC or the courts. The outcome of the hearings were irrelevant. The tactic was employed to burden or bury Wind with legal costs and slow the development of their network. It’s a common tactic used by large cash rich companies to eliminate competition and was successfully employed by the U.S. tech industry to bring down Canadian tech giant Blackberry (formerly known as RIM down.)

The tactic worked, bogging Wind down in red tape and driving the original investors in Wind out of Canada entirely. What happened next was the unexpected part. It would seem with one last middle finger pointed defiantly skyward Wind sold to Shaw. Shaw is an established western based cable company with deep pockets who unlike their competitors had refrained from making an early foray into the mobile wireless market. In a move the others didn’t expect Shaw jumped in feet first with the purchase of Wind. Effectively eliminating foreign ownership concerns the big three complained so bitterly about and rebranded the service as Freedom Mobile.

Shaw under the Freedom banner inherited brand new bandwidth that had been awarded to Wind before the sale. As the 2017 holiday season approached Shaw would set the industry on fire in order to fill that bandwidth with new customers. Timing the first competitive salvo into the marketplace with Freedom’s launch into the British Columbia market.

In one stroke Shaw did what the erectile-ly challenged CRTC had failed to do for almost a decade. Create real competition by offering phone plans for approximately 50% of the cost of the competition. For example, 10Gb of mobile data on Freedom’s LTE network, plus unlimited data on their 3g network for $60 a month. The competition were offering similar plans for $115 and up.  and expose the collusion we’d all suspected for years. To further support collusion argument, Freedom only runs its own network in major urban centers. Almost all of the remainder is run on expensive partner networks. Any guess who owns those? If Freedom can operate at lower costs on the big players networks shouldn’t they be able to run cheaper on their own networks?

Rogers, Bell, Telus and their illusion making competition spin-offs Koodo, Chatr, Fido, etc.. followed suit as a rush of client’s looked to jump to Freedom. All of a sudden the country didn’t seem so big and the major players were exposed for the price fixing, oligarchs they truly are. Will their bottom lines be affected? One can only hope. Will any of them go poor? Highly unlikely.

No one can say how any of the fireworks in the wireless industry will play out but if this week hasn’t proven collusion between Canada’s biggest wireless players then I don’t know what will. Let this be a revolution to shake the foundations of an industry that has for too long gouged Canadians to line their own pockets.

Copyright 2017 Greg Glazebrook, All Rights Reserved.

3 thoughts on “The Big Fix

  1. Shawn Anderson

    Regulation, high taxes, and governmental lobbies fail all industry. Government is a failure when they go where not intended. They should only be allowed to protect boarders, language, and provide an army. Anything else they are terribly ineffient and harmful to society! Let freedom resign. Government equals tyranny. Small government prevails in capitalist societies.

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    1. gmg1968 Post author

      Couldn’t agree more. Smaller government equals better government. That said the U.S does a better job of fostering real competition. You see it in gas prices, mobile pricing plans, etc. In Canada gas prices are within a fraction of a cent of each other. Wireless plans are virtually identical and set at artificially high prices compared to the rest of the world. At the very least they have taken a follow the leader approach but I suspect the collusion goes deeper and that is something that needs to be regulated in a free market.

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      1. Shawn K. Anderson

        ” Government is not the solution. Government is the problem. ”

        Ronald Reagan

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