Tucows and Ting Mobile ask the CRTC to sow the seeds for mobile competition in Canada

Written by
December 19, 2019

Are you:
– Canadian?
– A cell phone user?
– Aware of the fact that Canadians pay among the highest price for cell phone service in the world?
and if not…
– Annoyed by the fact that Canadians pay very nearly the highest price for cell phone service in the world now that you know it?

The CRTC is about to hold a hearing on the Future of Mobile Wireless Service in Canada. They have a survey and are asking for public input and insight. You should fill out their survey. You should also share it with your friends

We believe that cell phone service in Canada needs to change. We believe that MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) companies, like our own Ting Mobile, that operate and innovate on top of incumbent networks, are the best answer.

Quite aside from the MVNO solution we hope to see, we believe that if this survey were completed truthfully by a majority of Canadians, the issue of high prices and poor service would become clear. In a perfect world, CRTC would have no choice but to listen to the Canadian wireless-buying public.

While we may be a little jaded from the last time we went through a similar exercise without any meaningful change, we hold out hope that positive change for Canadian phone users is possible.

Highlights from Tucows CEO Elliot Noss addressing the CRTC in 2014. Via Open Media.

Our credentials

We know a little about running an MVNO, and we’ll be the only carrier present at the CRTC hearings that can honestly make that claim. Today, as Ting Mobile, we have hundreds of thousands of happy mobile customers getting inexpensive, reliable and full cell phone service on two, soon to be three, of the four major networks in the US.

Ting Mobile makes its US carrier partners money. We’re happy to talk more about how we do that while running a profitable mobile carrier service and saving Ting Mobile customers money every month, but we’ll spare that discussion here and now.

Ulterior motives

We have ulterior motives. The fact that we’re happy to talk about them is a point of differentiation.

Ting Mobile would love to offer service in Canada. To date, nearly eight years in operation and counting, that hasn’t been possible. We’ve talked before about how anti-competitive Canadian wireless is, and we’re certainly not the only ones to point this out.

Operating in Canada would be additive but not transformative to our business.

Second, we are Canadian. We’re not going to trot out the old beer commercial tropes, but we’d really just like to see our friends and families get a better customer experience than is offered today at a more reasonable price.

As Canadians, we’re tired of the state of mobile competition in this country. Cell phone service is more expensive than it needs to be. Canadians don’t have real, viable choices. The anti-competitive environment the incumbent mobile service providers, AKA Robelus, create and foster stifles innovation.

High on price, low on innovation

Incumbents have a disincentive to innovate in cell phone service, as evidenced by the fact that they raise and lower prices, limit and price data, offer or remove services in lock-step. The savvy have taken to improvised solutions. The rest of us seem to have resigned ourselves. The fact that the less tech-savvy can’t call across Canada without either comically overpaying or getting strong-armed into a big bundled plan is shameful.

Instead of innovating, the incumbents have focused their combined efforts on further protectionism.

Bring in MVNOs

The incumbent wireless network providers should open Canadian wireless networks up to the kind of innovation and diversification that only a strong MVNO climate can provide. Everywhere MVNOs have been introduced they lower prices for people and increase both innovation and service levels.

Since they won’t make this change of their own free will the CRTC, operating with the people’s interests in mind, should help incubate a real MVNO ecosystem by allowing MVNOs access to Canadian wireless infrastructure.

Whether you agree with our conclusions or not, you should make your voice heard on the subject by filling out the CRTC’s Future of Mobile Wireless Service in Canada survey.

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