Mobilicity rewrites Rogers 700Mhz petition, says they shouldn’t “hijack the auction” but “support the growth of the new entrants”

Ian Hardy

September 26, 2011 4:21 pm


Canada’s upcoming 700Mhz spectrum auction next year is an important one, probably more important than the 2008 auction that brought in over $4 billion for the Government. The reason is because this spectrum, which some call the “Cadillac” and “beachfront” spectrum, is cheaper to rollout and also provides a better experience as it can penetrate through thick walls within buildings.

Majority of all the carriers have spoken up about this anticipated auction, some are wanting it to be completely open, while others are requesting the Government to set aside a portion of the 700Mhz for the new entrants (WIND, Mobilicity, Videotron). Bell was very vocal during the Canadian Telecom Summit where President and CEO George Cope stated that an “Open auction ensures roll-out of rural and urban LTE”. Rogers on the other hand has taken to their dedicated LTE site, encouraging customers to sign an online petition, which would then be directed to their local politician:

“I respectfully urge you to allow free and open access to the 700-megahertz spectrum by allowing all companies to participate in the upcoming auction. Excluding any provider would only serve to slow down Canadian innovation, damaging our growing and vital digital economy. Worse yet, it would adversely impact Canadian consumers like me and the nine million Canadians who rely on Rogers for wireless services. LTE will offer us access to truly revolutionary wireless experiences, enriching our lives and growing our economy. Having an open auction will unleash the power of Canadian innovation; a closed auction will erect barriers to national growth. For these reasons, I ask you to support a fair and open auction for the 700 spectrum. It’s best for our economy. It’s best for Canada.”

Today, upon hearing the news of this Rogers petition, new entrant Mobilicity has spoken up again. They once called the Big 3 “squirrels preparing for a 50-year winter” on how they “hoard spectrum”, COO Stewart Lyons said that “The future of affordable wireless rates is at risk, not the future of long-term evolution (LTE) networks… Mobilicity has helped bring down the cost of wireless in Canada significantly and we need to augment our limited amount of spectrum to ensure affordable pricing continues. Big 3 wireless carriers have more spectrum than they need and will stop at nothing to dress up and misrepresent their hidden agenda of eliminating competition so they can raise their rates back up again”.

To solve this problem, Mobilicity stated in a press release that they’d like to see Rogers change the verbiage in the petition, creatively doing the work for them by inserting words such as “Don’t raise my rates”, “put consumers’ needs first” and ending it with “I want to see our country have competitive, fairly priced wireless services from companies that put consumers’ needs first”, “real value” and ending it up with “I ask you to support the growth of the new entrants by not allowing the incumbents to hijack the auction in order to shut out competition . It’s best for our economy. It’s best for Canada. After all, the incumbents already have more spectrum than any other operator anywhere in the world. How much is enough?”

The 700Mhz spectrum auction is expected to start late 2012.

Source: CNW

  • TNSF

    The new entrants don’t have enough money to build national LTE networks. They should not be given preferential access to spectrum that they can’t afford to use.

    Only major companies like Bell, Telus, Rogers and Videotron have the cash necessary to launch LTE.

    • zico

      I disagree, Obtaining 700mhz spectrum is better than money in the bank. It will definitely attract investors and partners towards a LTE rollout.

      Robellus already have over 1GHZ of spectrum hoarded, some of the new entrants such as Mobilicity have to operate on only 10mhz in certain areas.

    • Alex Perrier

      WIND at least has a chance to become an Ontario-wide network. They’ve already got Toronto, Ottawa and K-W. They want to expand to Peterborough, London and Niagara Falls. So their coverage isn’t as big as the Big 3, but it’s still impressive.

      Mobilicity and Public Mobile both haven’t expanded beyond their initial cities. They should! Other cities would love the lower prices.

      i don’t believe Vidéotron will expand much in Ontario, except for Ottawa. That is because Gatineau people travel to Ottawa a lot, plus that city has both English- and French-speaking people. Plus they give 819 or 514 numbers. Since Vidéotron is from Québecor, and the rates are pricer than WIND or Mobilicity, it may not be such welcome news for people who aren’t from Québec and who don’t speak French.

  • Andrew

    It’s true.. Why give new entrants the spectrum when they can hardly afford to roll out on the current bit they have? I think spectrum should be use it or lose it. Pretty easy way to ensure companies get what they plan to use and only use what they plan to get.

    • Nobel

      Hmm. I just wonder what Andrew and TNSF would gain by sucking up Robbers!!!

    • Baester

      Nobel, why do you need to suggest that since they have a different opinion from you that they gain something from it? It’s assertions like this that make Internet forums suck.

    • AllanVS

      Andrew – use it or lose it is right … the Government should take back ALL THE UNUSED SPECTRUM from the Big 3, and resell it with a clause of “Use it in ____ time, or lose it again, with no refund.”

      Why should Rogers, Bell and Telus be able to hoard the best spectrum? They are greedy, self-centred b&stards and should be taken down several notches.

    • Jeff

      Why, because letting Rogers, Telus and Bell have that spectrum will do nothing for consumers except ensure continued high prices.

  • zar

    Yes, of course only Robelus has the money, did you check their rates recently? Did you check the prices on the LTE data? 45$/GB?! I’m pretty sure that at these rates any of the new entrants could afford to build LTE.

    Let’s not kid ourselves, there’re no good guys or bad guys here.
    Robelus will build a few towers here and there and say: HERE! We did expand in rural areas.

    New entrants won’t use the spectrum RIGHT away, but I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they will do so in the near future.

    What happened in 3 years, we started getting national (no long distance) plans, regular plans that offer more features, overall better plans. How much money did Robelus lose? I can’t produce figures, but I’d be willing to bet it’s a lot! I am also willing to bet that Robelus is willing to big a huge amount of money to make sure the new entrants won’t get any spectrum.

    So, IMO, don’t shut off Robelus completely from the auction, but do set aside some spectrum to be auctioned by only the new guys.

  • Big 3

    wow rogers making a petition? i will never sign it. i think Big 3 knows how much of the population they have angered and now its time for them to regret it.

    Power to the New Entrants!

    and besides, why would you say New Entrants dont have the money to launch LTE?Videotron has enough cash and Wind is backed by a Telecom Giant.

    • Easterner

      Rogers’ petition is totally obscene. Robelus should be kept at a safe distance from this auction. They now charge $8 for call display and still charge for long distance even though there is no such thing as long distance with current technology. If you bring in your own phone, they still expect you to pay full-price for their plans!!! Why? Because they can. And don’t get me going with their forever (3-year) plans. These crooks should be ordered to limit plans to two years.

  • Nobel

    We have seen enough in the name of 4G LTE already by the big 3. $45/G!!! No wonder my friend from UK once told me that having a cell phone contract in Canada is like having a second mortgage.

    • Alex Perrier

      It is indeed difficult for customers to get something decent from the Big 3 providers. Some have it better, some have it worse, but it isn’t fair when some people pay more or the same but get less than another customer with the same company.

      There was a girl on CBC Marketplace who had the nationwide buddies plan with Virgin but was accidentally charged HUGE long distance fees because of a satellite interfering with her cell phone. It traumatised the girl so much that she had to drop out of school and make many calls or trips to her mobile phone dealer or to Virgin to find out why she was being charged those ridiculous amounts.

      So far, i’ve helped my family with their monthly plans, and i want to help other people as well. Plus, i want to make sure they pay the right price for the right phone. Since my plan is actually pretty decent, i count my blessings.

  • Anthony

    Robbers, you don’t seek to ensure the growth of the Canadian economy – you wish to enlarge your pockets with the hard-earned money of Canadians and your investors. Real Canadians don’t support you; we loathe you. It’s a shame to see so many uninformed citizens as your “loyal customers”.

    Let’s hope the government does something to prevent this spectrum hogging, or we will forever face the reality that Canada is the reason why North America has the highest wireless rates in the world.

    • Baester

      Who are fake Canadians?

      I do agree that spectrum hoarding needs to stop. I don’t agree anyone should be shut out of this auction. If the incumbents want to spend a ton of money on the spectrum, then let them do it – it’s good for government and us. However, there should be performance thresholds built into the licensing. A company must hit certain milestones on clearly-defined delivery dates or they forfeit their license and their money. The government, then, in turn, can put the forfeiture for open bid, disqualifying the forfeiting company. This would allow the government to make even more money on that asset.

    • Bryan

      i would like to add rogers isn’t the only one doing this but they are aggressive in their technique to take money from customers, i’m lucky they don’t work here where i live, but i wouldn’t mind one day being able to use a network where i don’t have to pay 150$+ a month to be able to have a blackberry and a 3g card so i can work on the road, and have you seen at&t in the states, they are exactly like rogers except worse and trying to buy t-mobile to be able to kill the market and jack up prices…. go us doj lol.
      that my 2 cents

  • Kostas Kritsilas

    The large carriers, Rogers, Bell, and Telus, have huge amounts of spectrum that they are currently not using. There is no reason for Telus, Bell and Rogers to not have already rolled out much wider 850MHz coverage, which they have a strict tri-opoly on. They want us to think that allowing them to buy up 700MHz spectrum, they will be rolling it out to rural areas. Why have they not rolled out the 850 MHz they already have (and by the way, being the earliest cell carriers in Canada, they got that spectrum at a very, very low price, as in close to free)?

    I don’t have an issue with the spectrum auction being open. I would like to have the following conditions imposed:

    1. If a bidder has unused spectrum (50% or more of their allocated spectrum being unused), then they should be excluded from the bidding.

    2. If the “winners” of the 700MHz spectrum do not deploy enough cell sites to cover X% of Canada’s area in Y number of years, the spectrum reverts back to government ownership to be auctioned again.

    Condition 1 would cover companies’ trying to hoard spectrum as a way of blocking competitors (Rogers coverage in rural areas other than Ontario is very poor).

    Condition 2 would force deployment into rural ares, not just the lucrative large cities. Condition 2 must be based on area, not population. This also addresses condition 1 to an extent, but also addresses carriers like Wind, Mobilicity, and Videotron buying spectrum and not deploying networks.

    Kostas

    • bob

      What are you talking about? 850 MHz is used a lot. It was deployed even before the 1900 MHz band.
      The spectrum that Robellus isn’t currently using is the AWS spectrum. And they plan on using it for LTE.

      The new entrants such as Wind and Mobilicity have A LOT of unused spectrum too. They use it in big cities, but not in the country side.

      Don’t forget that if you have 20x more users you need 20x more spectrum too.

  • Baller

    first of all the big 3 are all a bunch of douches trying to ruin the growth of the entrants. Wind, Mobilicity and Public Mobile should have a set aside part of the spectrum to increase competition and fulfill the customers needs first. Robelus has been wiping their own buts with their loads of money. I say let the new entrants get a set aside part and let them further grow as competitors in Canada.

  • WirelessBoy

    Wow, do the executives think about what they say before saying it? Mobi has a campaign against getting scr**ed but then turns around and demands a 1 year committment for one of these latest promotions.

    Also, all this talk about hoarding is getting rather old. Why do they need more? Quite Simple “The reason is because this spectrum, which some call the “Cadillac” and “beachfront” spectrum, is cheaper to rollout and also provides a better experience as it can penetrate through thick walls within buildings.”

    I think that says it all, very simple and to the point. Personally I think if Wind and Mobi get spectrum, what are they going to do with it? Hoard it because they can’t afford to build out the LTE network?

    Who know, only time will tell.

    • Bella

      First of all, you assume that LTE is a MUST HAVE for anyone and everyone. Wrong! It’s nice to have, sure, but it is not necessary at all.

      Second of all, who says the new guys want a piece of 700MHz strictly to roll out LTE? They want this spectrum due to its advanced penetration, and because they will need less signal receivers to cover larger areas. This will ensure quicker expansion and more customers.

      Naturally, Rogers at al do not want this to happen, and will fight tooth and nail to prevent this.

      Think about it. If Wind and Mobi didn’t have to invest in expansion, advertising, and all the other expenses associated with growth, they would actually be very profitable by offering their $40 unlimited everything plans. So what does this tell you? It says that charging $40 for an all-inclusive plan is a viable business structure. Rogers et al charge over $100. How hard is it to understand that you are being buttfuked? Perhaps you’re enjoying it, but I’ll pass.

  • Kostas Kritsilas

    Forgot to say, I am a Rogers customer, and did send the Roger’s email in, but edited with the same points I made above.

    Kostas

  • James

    Alex, what does Language have to do with videotron? You’re allowed to speak English on their waves as far as I know

  • j_rich

    @ WirelessBoy, although in Mobilicity’s new promotion they are asking for a 1 year commitment upfront, at least you know what you are getting for the money, no extra little fees snuck in. I say one year commitment for a phone is a lot better than a three year commitment plus a $50 plan plus still not getting the phone for free. IMO

  • Terry

    And the sad thing will be, is, with me having little to no faith in our government (no matter what party is in charge) the companies that bribe the most will win, consumers will always lose.

  • David

    i think new entrants should not only be given preferences to spectrum but gov’t should help them flourish so they can effectively compete

    • Baester

      In my opinion, they already did that with the first auction and changing foreign ownership rules to benefit Wind. Mobilicity is allowed to be upset.

  • Reggie Noble

    Mobilicity and Wind should come up with some kind of agreement where they buy up spectrum in different areas then share their towers with each other. Eg. Wind buys up spectrum in Ontario and Quebec. Then Mobilicity buys up Spectrum for the rest of Canada, then they share the network.

  • Dave

    What happened to the good old days? Where Robelus run the show. Canadian consumers just faithfully being screwed big time with no way out. Geez, I miss those days.

  • Demobot

    I think that if the new guys can come up with 5 billion on their own, then the government should let them have it.

  • Hauer

    The government needs money, they need to deploy “use it, or lose it”.

    This forces the big 3 to use the current hoarded spectrum, otherwise the government should just take it back and auction it off again.

    This forces the big 3 to improve their network, if not… the government can get more money.

  • Zia Waraich

    I love the rewritten petition.

  • warp

    The only reason we are getting unlimited plans from the Big 3 flanker brands is because of the competition posed by the new entrants. Absent that competition plan prices would be 50% higher than today and the word “unlimited” would be missing from cellphone advertising. Is the performance of the new entrants flawless? Not at all. I have cellphones from the new entrants as well as the Big 3/flanker brands and the incidents of dropped calls, static et al is much higher for the new entrants than the Big 3 and their flanker brands. When Rogers bought Fido years ago, the first thing they did was kill the unlimited City Fido plan. That plan was only reborn when forced via competition from the new entrants. That is a clear example of what the Big 3 will do absent competition.

    As I said, the new entrants are not flawless and their rollouts should have been much faster. Wind by now should have had the 401 covered from Windsor to the Quebec border instead of cherry picking customers only in the major cities.

    I agree with an earlier poster, the government must do what is necessary to ensure that this competition continues otherwise we will again be gouged mercilessly. At the same time, the new entrants must rollout much much faster all over the country instead of concentrating only on the big cities. Spectrum hoarding much be reversed and non deployment of spectrum bought at auction must revert back to the Government.

  • aka

    not surprising everyone who speaks against small3 gets voted down here. probably the same with this post. lets be honest, LTE is made specifically for certain blocks of spectrum, you can’t just pull out any old previously acquired spectrum acquisition and claim to be LTE compliant, you have to be compatible with the LTE world standards in order to support interoperability with worldwide carriers.

    Also your $40/month everything unlimited plans ain’t making the new guys much money. You feel like you’re paying a fair share for service, but if the company isn’t making much if any profit, there’s no money for expansion. To give you an idea, it cost over $2 million to built one cell tower to cover potentially a 20-30 km radius, not including on-going maintenance cost, like generator fuel, land lease, electricity, etc.. You figure how many $40 subscribers you need to pay for it that one tower. To give you a hint, WIND hasn’t even begin to make a profit yet, if they are, it’s surprisingly recent, they are estimated to have just over 300,000+ subscribers as of Spring 2011.

    Some people are asking for expansion dates and milestones, or lose it. Most likely they new entrants will not be able to fulfil that requirement if we’re even talking about 50% of populated areas in Canada. They currently can’t even expand existing network to more the a handful of cities, let alone 50% of populated areas. Further, they’re currently concentrating on urban areas, not rural Canada. What makes you think that they’ll build towers in your neck of the woods for LTE? Give them the spectrum on the hopes that in a few years they’ll use it? Doesn’t that sound like spectrum hoarding? Sitting on used spectrum for years?

    I support splitting the chunks of spectrum evenly amongst the bidders, and once you reach a maximum allotment, you’re not allowed to bid for any more. This gets everyone in the market, and let the market decide with their hard earned cash. So far I’m not seeing people leaving in droves to support the new entrants. Some of you support them morally by posting your support here, but not with your own money and actually give up the Big3 and sign with the new entrants.

    • bob

      LTE can work on all frequency bands currently used in Canada (850, 1700 and 1900)

      The problem is getting compatible hardware. I don’t think there are many LTE850 or LTE1900 devices out there. LTE1700 is fine however. It used by AT&T, Rogers and Bell.

  • J

    It’s an auction. Just drive the price up. You know Robellus will hoard and hardly deploy. They’ll pass off the cost onto the consumer regardless of price. So Mobi et. al. should just drive the price to ridiculous amounts the ‘screw over’ the big 3. Always nice to see companies give each other a big middle finger for fun

  • J

    Why can’t the government follow the UK model for cellular network?

  • Tony

    If the government opens the auction to the big 3, that will ensure the newcomers death, before they can get their business off the ground they will be faced with such tough and unbeatable competition that they will not survive.
    Rogers already has rolled out LTE in some areas of Ottawa for testing, this means they DO NOT need the 700MHz frequency spectrum to roll out LTE, thus that argument is null and bogus.
    It simply is an argument to get into the auction and ensure none of the smaller competitors gets to expand.
    Typical capitalism style, kill your competition before they grow large enough to be a threat…

    • aka

      The reason why everyone wants portion of the 700Mhz band is due to the nature of the frequency which allows larger coverage areas using less cell towers and better wall penetration characteristics. Think basements suites, apartment buildings, and elevators. Of course it is possible to build out the entire nation with 2100 Mhz alone, but the amount of towers required would be vastly cost prohibitive and would take many years to complete.

      The new entrants wants to government to prevent the Big3 from competing in this auction and have the entire band amongst themselves. The Big3 suggested to set a limit on how many blocks are allowed to be purchased per company so everyone gets a share of the lucrative band. You decide who’s being fair here.

      If the government blocks the incumbents from the auction and allow only the new entrants access to this frequency band, they will just use them in urban areas to catch up to the incumbents in terms of national coverage. This alone would take them (think 10) years to complete. Building out to rural Canada would not be their primary directive, because the population becomes too scarce to recover the cost for them based on their much smaller revenue and budget subscriber base. You are essentially denying over 23 million Canadians (Big3 subscribers combined) a national LTE network. I highly doubt the government would be so naive to let this happen.

      In the end, this could either slow or fast track Canadian innovation further in the telecommunications industry in comparison to carriers around the world.

  • Jesse

    Like a couple people have stated I also like the idea of keeping this auction open, but only to those carriers that aren’t currently sitting on vast amounts of unused spectrum. I’d go further to say that if anyone that is sitting on more then 50% of unused spectrum would have to sacrifice some of that spectrum to get the ability to bid on this new one.

    The company isn’t using it and hasn’t been for however long they’ve owned it (over 2 years I’m assuming), so those could be freed up for the new players to buy up for similar prices as the original company had paid all those years ago.

    In the end, the only good thing that can happen from this auction is if somehow either with the new guys winning this auction or through them getting some of the hoarded spectrum. The better the new guys do, the better your service from the big 3 gets. Its actually in the best interest of every single big 3 subscriber to cheer for the new guys because it in the end will make canadian wireless better for all canadians.

  • Government of Canada

    Being a proud Canadian is who I am. But with the BIG 3, I’m NOT proud at all. They have set outrageous wireless prices for all. I’m starting to think they ARE the Canadian government.

  • Chris

    I agree, use it or lose it. Same goes with new entrants though …*shaw*…

  • Golem

    Robellus already hog too much of the cell phone services spectrum and don’t use a lot of what they have. Consequently, the 700 MHz spectrum should be restricted to cell phone service providers other than Rogers, Bell, and Telus. That would enable the newer companies to expand their coverage more cheaply than with the spectrum they now have and would provide them with the what they need, higher data speeds, to truly compete with Robellus at, hopefully, a lower price for the consumer. Any company which gets 700 Mhz spectrum must also, as a condition of their purchase, gaurantee that they will use the full bandwidth of the spectrum they buy and that they provide coverage and services over a specific geographical area at specific time-dependent milestones or they will forfeit their spectrum allocation to the government to be re-auctioned.

  • Michael PatchyToes

    If Big three are the “only ones” that can bring Canadians LTE…. then Canada is *NOT* ready for LTE. Lets hold off a bit, so that we can do it properly, without being gouged.

    Sacrifices must be made. If we allow rogers to be the only ones with LTE, then rogers will continue to GOUGE customers 80-150$ a bill.

    Look at Mobilicity. Look how low the prices HAVE to be… in order to just tread water against ROGERS. 17.50 for unlimited TALK TEXT and DATA.

    Imagine if a giant like Rogers used all its money to Compete? What amazing services and innovations would happen?

    CANADA: Stop chasing the carrot held out in front of you. Before we go after LTE… lets bring our phone bills down from 100$ to 40$.