New carriers estimated to own 6.5% of Canadian wireless subscriber base by the end of 2012, report says

Ian Hardy

April 2, 2012 8:32 pm


Based on some recent stats it’s estimated that the total wireless subscriber base in Canada is 26,383,417, this is up about 7% from last year. Rogers is still leading the pack with 9,335,000 subscribers, with Bell and TELUS close behind. As for the newer wireless players, at the end of 2011 WIND Mobile has racked up around a total of 403,000 subscribers, but Mobilicity says they’ve “claimed its place as the nation’s fastest-growing new wireless entrant.”

A new report by The Convergence Consulting Group called “The Battle for the North American (US/Canada) Couch Potato: Bundling, Television Internet, Telephone, Wireless” has some interesting Canadian stats. Brahm Eiley of Convergence says his team is forecasting the “New Entrants’ will have 6.5% of Canadian wireless subscribers by year-end 2012, up from 4.3% year-end 2011.”

It’s currently estimated that Wind, Mobilicity, Public Mobile and Videotron have a combined subscriber base of over 1 million. So let’s say the Canadian wireless subscriber base conservatively increases to 27 million subs, this means that the new entrants will have about 1.75 million subscribers by the end of 2012. Could happen, but serious mergers/acquisitions will have to happen.

In addition, carrier ARPU (average revenue per user) dipped again this year – somewhere to the tune of 1%. Data revenue soared, but voice revenue dramatically fell. The new carriers such as Mobilicity, Wind and Public helped drive this trend by continuing their low cost all-in promotional plans that range between $25-$40/month. Brahm Eiley of Convergence says that “when not taking into account promotional pricing, New Entrants can undercut Incumbents & their discount brands by more than 40% on combined voice/data pricing and by more than 80% on data alone.”

Have you switched over to one of the new carriers (and stayed)?

Update: Convergence sent me an email stating that “We estimate the new entrants had 1.125 million subs at year end 2011 and forecast 1.8 million year end 2012.”

Source: Convergence (PDF)

  • human

    keep going new guys!

  • Sean

    What they need to do is merge wind and mobi get windicity up so it can have good density in metro areas so they get more subs so they can expand

    • Alex Holmes

      I totally agree Sean! I work at Mobile Republic, a retailer that carries both carriers, and if they merged their coverage and plans could only improve!

  • M

    I switched to WIND two Christmases ago, and I’m happy with what I got. There are places where coverage isn’t the best, but there was a time when RoBellus didn’t have coverage everywhere, and they eventually expanded. It takes time to expand, and I’m willing to wait, especially with the plans WIND puts out.

  • deltatux

    I am currently with WIND. I liked Mobilicity better but both companies are definitely better than the Big 3. It’s good to see that new entrants are gaining traction and we can finally break the triopoly that has been plaguing our country.

    • Alex Perrier

      i’ve tried both carriers, too, and i agree that there are pros and cons with each. Some people will prefer the larger and maybe Pay Your Way or WINDtab, while others will opt for a multi-month or feature-packed prepaid plans with Mobilicity despite the smaller coverage. Both certainly offer better value than Big 3′s plans.

      Personally, i prefer WIND Mobile over Mobilicity. It’s nice to chat with the president and CEO of the company, but it puts a lot of weight on one’s shoulder compared to the WIND employee team on Get Satisfaction. WIND seems to be the only new entrant expanding their coverage beyond just the metro areas. Both companies have their merits, and it’s sad to potentially see Mobilicity go. i like their name, too. Looks like business is business.

    • Alex Perrier

      i’ve tried both carriers, too, and i agree that there are pros and cons with each. Some people will prefer the larger and maybe Pay Your Way or WINDtab, while others will opt for a multi-month or feature-packed prepaid plans with Mobilicity despite the smaller coverage. Both certainly offer better value than Big 3′s plans.

  • Alex Holmes

    This is very exciting. What impresses me more than the estimate of market share is the fact that Wind and Mobilicity are succeeding in lowering average prices in Canada! Talk about Value!

  • Acco

    I went, then left… then came back. I’m so sorry Wind, I’ll never cheat on you again! :<

  • Theywillbepissed

    Reminds me of europe during the middle ages. They said things were Looking good, then came the bubonic plague. Die wind die! >:)

    • Eric

      Wind is the only way to go. I have unlimited everything for $40/month. I also use it to run both my home computers and
      FTA satellite system. $40/month is my only bill. Top that.

    • Theywillbepissed

      In south korea everything is free die wind die! Samsung is much better carrier! Die mobilicoty die! I made my phone out of porcelain! Die apple die!!!!!!!!

    • grekoff

      You don’t have to wish Wind to die. It will on its own. Especially when the CEO says they do not plan to bid on 700MHz, and hence, no future path to LTE.

      p.s. the bubonic plague could only help Wind as it might lighten the user burden on its congested network…

  • CDL

    Tried Mobilicity and paid $300 for a BlackBerry that wouldn’t work as my home didn’t have reception as it was too far West in Mississauga (even though their coverage map said yes). Unlocked it and went to Wind and haven’t gone back. I’ve since started a tab with a new phone and it really is impressive … both for voice and data speeds. If the iPhone would work on their frequencies it would be game over for sure.

  • Henry McDonald

    This is why it’s so important for the new entrants to merge soon and the obvious choice to lead the battle against the Big 3 is Wind Mobile who has deep pockets when it comes to financing, making it even more important for Mobilicity customers to switch to Wind Mobile now and not give Mobilicity the opportunity to sell out before an agreement can be reached. If more customers switched to Wind Mobile it would also force a possible sale and then as a united team they could concentrate on Rogers, Bell and Telus. Mobilicity will never be a national carrier and Wind Mobile is already headed that way.

  • Splat

    Yes. Moved to Mobilicity when they launched in Vancouver and have not looked back. For less than $25 a month I get unlimited local calls and unlimited data. Would never look back.

  • Aktok Aziz

    Wind and Mobilicity are nothing more than a fly-by-night operations, and should never even be compared to the powerhouses that Telus, Bell, and Rogers are.

    Telus, Bell, and Rogers built up their networks through sweat and blood from the ground up, and have been employing MILLIONS of Canadians over decades. They are the backbone of Canada! Their service will never be matched, especially by paperhouse companies like Wind and Mobilicity.

    Windici-ocity are scam, with a HORRIBLE network, NO DATA, and outsourcing that ROBS Canadians of their God-given jobs. These companies should NOT exist in Canada, and I will keep writing to the government, asking for justice!

    • @Canada

      @AZIZ?
      Seriously………
      “Canadians of their God-given jobs. These companies should NOT exist in Canada, and I will keep writing to the government, asking for justice!”
      LMFAO…exactly can you tell us what the hell you mean?

    • Alex Perrier

      They’re essentially two networks: Bellus and Rogers.

      Big 3 companies are the biggest gougers that i am aware of. TELUS will charge you a $3/month fee just to receive texts about how many minutes you use. The list goes on and on, but those companies use a lot of deception and ridiculously high rates just to get their way.

    • HO

      …let me guess, u work for a dealer of Robbers….trolling be trolling…

    • Vinny

      I don’t want to be an a*s…But with a name like Aktok Aziz chances are somebody in your family (if not you) was given a chance and stole one of our “GOD GIVEN JOBS” if it wasn’t the case I’m sure you wouldn’t be here to make such stupid comments…”GOD GIVEN JOBS”??? Are you talking about call centre work?!?!? Do you work for Rogers?

  • XER

    With some of the 700 Mhz going to the newbie, they will eventually support the iPhone!

  • Keegan Goerz

    I’m running on the O’Canada plan with WIND and have never felt in LOVE with a carrier before, but I’m now finally telling people how much I like my carrier, versus them telling me how much they hate theirs.
    Honestly the only things that would make it better, higher density of signal within buildings (so more spectrum) [would also allow for more cities to be covered], and an AWS iPhone to pull that consumer base!
    If they keep these prices – and can hold onto this promotional plan for as long as I can – they will kick butts!! (I mean I pay $35 a month for unlimited everything + voicemail [seemingly without a limit as well!!])
    Anyway – yes I switched. And loving it!!
    Merge WIND and Mobilicity and you will certainly have a better situation :D

  • :)

    I can’t wait for 12 months and move my number to Mobilicity. I signed up last week my for my new line at Mobilicity for $40 only with unlimited NA call n text, etc and I am loving it without worrying for extra charges, not like Rogers keeps on charging extra charges that’s y they are rich but will not be able to hold on their position because Mobi wind etc is coming up within 3 years!!!

  • Lae

    No offense iphone lovers but it’s not wind/mobi that need to change. Apple needs to start offering pentaband UMTS phones like everyone else. By not doing so they are promoting consumer oppression under the ROBELLUS oligopoly in Canada.

    • grekoff

      Who cares about Apple? There are so many good Blackberry and Android options out there.

  • Dean

    Why would anyone go with These guys when you could go with Koodo? Superior coverage, better phones, Unlimited Calling EVERYWHERE in Canada. Koodo rocks!

    • Zombie Ted Rogers

      You’re kidding right?

      @Wind I can get unlimited talk/text/data for 50 bucks a month Canada Wide. No added fees, end of story.

      @Koodo 50 bucks gets me 150 minutes of Canada wide calling, only ONE gig of data, 50 text messages and one hell of a penalty if I go over those caps. Add to that, 2 bucks for a paper bill, and a 911 fee.

      Maybe I’m seeing something else here, but Wind vs Koodo = Apples vs rotten oranges.

  • alex

    re @ dean.

    If it wasn’t for these guys Koodo would not be headed in the direction it is now…
    It was good before, but I caught their glimpse when they started to offer canada wide calling.

    Was with WIND since summer 2010 till January 2012.

    Not going back because of awful customer service and inability to maintain a call with customer service without it dropping.

    When it works, it works well… when it doesn’t… there is absolutely no help from WIND’s side.

  • M D

    Hmmm. At 6.5% look at how the three-headed monster is already feeling the pressure, mainly with the recent Rogers and Telus promos.

    Can’t wait to see what they’ll do when that percentage grows to 10 or even 15. It’s only a matter of time.

  • Aiden

    I’m stuck with bell for one more year does anyone know if wind has decent phones?

  • ADWolf

    A long, long time ago — I was on Fido before they were bought by Rogers. Their network (one of the first on GSM standards in Canada) and customer service was fantastic.

    Rogers bought them out, and it was downhill from there. Rogers has invested in the Fido network and moved totally away from CDMA, but their corporate arrogance really irks me.

    Now fast forward to the present. Rogers at first dismissed the new carriers and said they “didn’t want to retain the customers that moved to these low-cost carriers” — and people left. Rogers got worried and tried to reposition Fido and then started Chattr (still a sore spot)

    The lower cost subsidiaries of the Robellus triumverate (Koodo, Chattr, Fido, Virgin/Bell, etc) were a direct response to WIND, Mobilicity, and Dave/Public. Without the new competition there likely wouldn’t be lower cost carriers.

    I’ve been on Bell, Rogers & Fido, Telus and finally, WIND.

    I will never switch back as long as WIND still operates (which I hope is a VERY long time). I encourage anyone to give them a chance. Their service is excellent, the price is fantastic, and in Metropolitan areas even their cell coverage is as good (or better) than the Big 3 in my experience…and their coverage is getting better year after year!

  • grekoff

    BUYER BEWARE!

    Newbie carrier coverage is a joke. There’s a reason Wind/Mobilicity plans are $25 a month and ROBhellUS continues to gouge everyone at $70.

    Fact:
    -The Big 3 are expensive. That sucks. But they also have the best network coverage in North America. You pay a lot, you get a lot: no roaming, maximum data speeds, etc.
    -Newbie data speeds are horrible. They do not work when driving.
    -Their “3G” speeds are actually slower than EDGE due to network overloading.
    -Apps like Google Maps barely works on the newbie startups
    -Areas like Scotiabank Place in Ottawa are Mobilicity roaming zones
    -You cannot hand off a call to roaming without having it dropped.
    -Your “unlimited” data is throttled to choked speeds after 100MB/15 mins of use

    These are junk, but if you’re a poor student with no car, and can get by with GPRS-rate speeds on a 3G network, this might just be your thang.

    Anybody who doesn’t believe me should go to Loxcel dot com and compare the number of towers each mobile provider has in each city.

    We really need Verizon or AT&T or T-Mobile to buy one of the newbies and run it like a real teleco.

    • Yeria

      -The Big 3 are expensive. That sucks. But they also have the best network coverage in North America. You pay a lot, you get a lot: no roaming, maximum data speeds, etc.
      WRONG. Best coverage in NA? For a supposedly rich guy (because you’re bashing on poor students?), you don’t seem to travel to US a lot. Their coverage isn’t great either but Canadian coverage is FAR worse. Also, no roaming? LOL You get dinged for long distance for calling Burlington from Mississauga. Yeah, how’s that different from getting dinged for calling from Away Zones? Mind you, I can call US for free even when I’m in Barrie now. How much does it cost for you to do that?
      -Newbie data speeds are horrible. They do not work when driving.
      WRONG. I use my Galaxy Nexus for navigation all the time. I also listen to internet radio at the same time. Maybe your phone somehow just sucked.
      -Their “3G” speeds are actually slower than EDGE due to network overloading.
      WRONG. Just last month, I used roughly 6GB of data on Wind network. Downloading a bunch of files, listening to internet radio, making Skype calls, watching HD YouTube videos and downloading huge apps. How much did I get charged? $0. The pleasure I get when I dismiss warning messages like “You may get charged for excessive data usage” is indescribable.
      -Apps like Google Maps barely works on the newbie startups
      WRONG. Did I tell you I use that for navigation all the time?
      -Areas like Scotiabank Place in Ottawa are Mobilicity roaming zones
      I never tried Mobilicity so I wouldn’t know, but based on things you’ve said so far, I’d rather believe you’re wrong on this one too.
      -You cannot hand off a call to roaming without having it dropped.
      WRONG. It’s funny because I was really worried about this before I switched and it never happened. I mean, I would have switched back if this was the problem. I even bought Galaxy Nexus outright so that I can switch back right away if Wind sucked too much. Well, it never happened to me. On the other hand, it happened several times while I was with Rogers… Funny, huh?
      -Your “unlimited” data is throttled to choked speeds after 100MB/15 mins of use
      WRONG. It’s throttled but only if you use more than 5GB a month. Also I told you I used 6GB of data just last month. How would I get that if data was so slow? Oh look, my Galaxy Nexus is telling me I already used 1.64GB since my new billing period (10 days) and I’m expected to use even more than 6GB this month.

      These are junk, but if you’re a poor student with no car, and can get by with GPRS-rate speeds on a 3G network, this might just be your thang.

      Anybody who doesn’t believe me should go to Loxcel dot com and compare the number of towers each mobile provider has in each city.

      We really need Verizon or AT&T or T-Mobile to buy one of the newbies and run it like a real teleco.

      – I used to pay $120 a month before extra charges with Rogers. I even was going to extend my contract to another 3-year when they pulled BS hidden fee scam on me so I got pissed enough to ditch them for Wind. I was really worried about poor service I may get from Wind, but when my service quality almost remained unchanged – i.e. most of the places my Wind phone doesn’t work, it didn’t work on Rogers either – while getting so much more got me wondering why I didn’t switch sooner. You don’t have to be poor to switch. Whether you’re rich or not, wasting money when you don’t have to is stupid to me. Plus, I’m helping out you big 3 lovers by staying with Wind as well. People like me are the reason why your monthly rates may get a little less ridiculous.

  • Drekken

    Thanks everyone who posted on this about their experience for WIND. I have been with TELUS for almost 15 years, and lately I have had my doubts with staying with them due to cost but I have not done much because of my brand loyalty. But I can no longer justify paying $90 – $120 a month for the service with all features when WIND offers the same AND MORE for a fraction of the cost.

    When I talked to Telus client retention about my displeasure and that I was going to switch to their competitor, the Rep told me that I would be displeased with their service and their coverage. Though I know he was biased , I didn’t have much to go off since I have always figured all Telecoms are the same based on the complaints my friends who are Rogers and Bell make. So I kept my account out of fear of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

    But now after reading all the positive comments I can happily say that when my contract expires in FEB 2013… I will break the shackles of Telus and join the WIND army.

  • Angus

    I couldn’t be happier about this, having been gouged in 1985 and beyond to the tune of $1400/month to talk on a phone. To Mr ADWolf, it was TDMA, and Fido was the very first GSM provider in North America in 1996, used to be called a smart card, was later changed to sim card. I was there, signed the first week they opened and saved thousands in the ensuing years.

  • Zombie Ted Rogers

    I’ve been with Wind since December of last year. I grabbed the Holiday Miracle Plan (Unlimited North American talk/text and data @40 bucks a month) and the HTC Amaze. I ported over from Rogers after ending a 3 year term on a 6 gig iPhone data plan.

    I live in downtown greater Toronto and have never had issues with call quality, dropped calls, or sketchy service. I generally don’t travel outside of the Wind zones, Toronto to Hamilton/Greater Vancouver all that often so I wont comment on roaming quality.

    Data seems a tad slower that what I experienced with Rogers but only marginally, and only on rare occasions.

    I purchased from the Flagship store at Queen/Yonge and the customer service was better than expected. To date I’ve had no problems requiring additional customer service.

    I’m thrilled with Wind. The Simple monthly bills with no surprises are such a refreshing change from Rogers where every month felt like opening Pandora’s box and awaiting my fate. Never worrying about overages, added costs, or surprise changes to my contract give me peace of mind every month. My current bill is roughly one third of what I paid at Rogers, and I’ve got Unlimited North American calling, text and data. A comparable plan at Rogers would cost ten fold what I’m paying now.

    For anyone living and spending most of their time in Wind’s coverage zones you’d be crazy not to consider them. Worst case scenario, walk away, keep the phone, and go back to the big three. But why would you.

  • Otter

    One other issue when it comes to choosing a carrier.

    Would you give money to a company, that has proven to use that money to make sure that they can keep overcharging for service?

    Its like supporting companies, that spend money to lobby the government to keep minimum wage down.

    Remember, although your vote for an MP is sometimes never heard, your dollar’s vote is ALWAYS heard.

  • zigzag

    I can’t + the new carriers enough. Being treated like something you stepped in by Bell and Rogers has left me so distrustring of the wireless carriers but Mobi and Wind are breathing new life into the industry and are setting the pace that Rogers and Bell an only dream of achieving.

    Good to hear they are doing well – Loving my $40 unlimited plan (and I’m not talking about a Roger ‘unlimited’ plan, I’m talking a REAL unlimited plan).

    I feel sorry for people who have to work at Rogers because they need to feed their family. Their psyche must be so tainted by what they see everyday.

  • Kevin

    Selfishly-speaking, as a Mobilicity user I implore everyone to avoid this carrier or to switch to another…you’re overloading the network towers and dropping my calls!!

    WIND and Mobi need to serious step up with expanding the number of towers they have. I love my $25 plan, but I hate that my bars constantly go up and down, or that I have full signal but can’t send/receive data. But they can’t afford to build more towers if they don’t increase revenue by raising plan prices. Catch-22.

  • Henry McDonald

    I agree fully for different reasons, everyone should switch considering Mobilicity is going no where and give Wind Mobile the strength they need against the Big 3 by joining the only new provider that has a chance. Wind Mobile also has superior service and a faster growing network with better coverage. If you hate the incumbents this is the only option that makes sense.

  • Dean

    @ Zombie Ted Rogers

    Wind and their home zones are garbage. Does it ever get embarrassing for you when you have to borrow your friends phone to make a call because a) you don’t have reception or b) you are roaming outside winds tiny home zone and you don’t want to pay for roaming fees?

    FYI: Koodo has a home zone also… It’s called Canada.

  • Otter

    @Dean PREPARE TO BE RANTED!

    Your totally right! Lets shut down Wind and mobilicity. There is absolutely no point in having any competition in Canada. Canada is nowhere near the bottom of of the industrialized world, right after mexico… for cell phone rates and usage, the prices are fair… and I completely love how the CRTC, the governing body, shows absolutely NO BIAS to these large companies that have an oligopoly.

    The new guys are not competing right now with the big three. They are providing SPECIFIC service, to certain markets. That’s like saying the cellphone plans in ICELAND suck, because you can’t use them in Canada. (exaggerated to prove apoint)

    And one last thing. You want to talk about garbage coverage? Lets talk garbage billing systems that can somehow incur overage charges when your phone is sitting unused with the battery out.

    *end morning rant* :D

  • Just Me

    It won’t be long before all Voice plan fees are just gone, and instead, your voice use comes under a data plan fee instead. This is how they will really gouge you next – by claiming that 10 minute phone call sucked up 100mb of data for their “high quality” signal and next you know, you need a 50gb monthly data plan in order to use your phone.