WIND Mobile CEO says “we must put an end to 9 brands owned by 3 companies, operating 2 national networks”

Ian Hardy

June 4, 2013 2:33 pm

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At the Canadian Telecom Summit today Tony Lacavera, WIND Mobile’s Chairman and CEO, boldly stated that since launching their network they’ve “survived and even thrived despite unprecedented regulatory uncertainty.” The newer wireless player has “certainly made mistakes along the way,” but quickly changed up their business model from a prepaid service to offering postpaid options.

It’s known that the incumbent carriers (Rogers, Bell and TELUS) have sub-brands that go head-to-head with WIND’s low-cost offering. Rogers owns Fido and Chatr, Bell with Virgin Mobile and Solo, plus TELUS with Koodo Mobile and Mike. Lacavera wants this structure to end and is suggesting that the CRTC “put an end to 9 brands owned by 3 companies, operating 2 national networks. MVNO services, on both a spectrum access or usage basis as well as on a total virtual operator basis must be mandated and regulated. Further, incumbents must be stopped from creating an artifice of competition by owning the MVNOs used as fighter or flanker brands. A true independent wholesale relationship between facilities-based operators and MVNOs must be established, and incumbents must be forced to divest or discontinue the use of flanker or fighter brands that create an artifice of competition.”

Lacavera also stated that “we should lift the remaining foreign ownership restrictions. We should then permit Bell and TELUS to finally merge on the condition that they focus on real growth and expansion abroad and stop focusing their incredible wealth of human and financial resources on defensive-minded Canada-focused strategies like flanker brands and legacy media asset acquisitions.”

WIND originally wanted 1.5 million wireless subscribers within 3-years of launching. Now, 3.5 years under their belt they’ve amassed over 600,000 wireless subscribers.

  • iPhone’s Bro

    Lol. Maybe WIND will run Mobilicity as a sub brand. hahahaha

    • Plazmic Flame

      How ironic this would be…

  • iPhone’s Bro

    MS – it was actually 1.5 million within 3 years that Wind wanted, not 1.3.

  • Dostro

    HERE HERE!

  • TomsDisqusted

    The complexity of the incumbents many plans, conditions, overage fees, add-on feeds, and brands is like a weapon they use against the consumer. Are we paying $7 a month just to prevent them from blocking basic caller-id info – it’s hard to tell? What the actual price of a plan given that few really pay the list price? When do I have to call again to renew my discount?

    Their systems are so complicated that even their own reps don’t fully understand and are constantly making mistakes, but that’s OK because their computer system make sure that the mistake never goes against them.

    While companies like Apple & Google push forward on technology, Robellus seem to put most of their effort into finding new ways to trick, lock-in, and confuse their customers. No wonder they are the most hated companies in Canada.

    • Manbo

      They’re hated because we’ve become so dependent on cellphones.
      In terms of confusing customers, not really. They play of people’s ignorance, but that don’t lie. They can’t, if they lied it would be a legal nightmare. It’s our job as a consumer to research and negotiate. Any offers or promises made, I request an email or signed document outlining the offer. Don’t leave any room to have the rug pulled out from under you. Unfortunately, nowadays you have to think like a lawyer.

  • Wowzers

    I think mobilesyrup needs to stop and get their noses out of Wind’s backside…

    • Super_Deluxe

      They’re just doing their jobs and reporting any news that happens in the Canadian wireless industry. If you can’t stand it, you always have the option to close your tab. Its really that simple.

    • wildspin

      Wowzers … you can get your nose out of Mobilesyrup’s backside too.

    • chris

      How was this article biased at all? The entire thing was pretty much a direct quote.

    • TomsDisqusted

      Yeah, the big money in Canada is in sucking up to Wind and going against Robellus. Not.

    • Rayman

      I bet this Wowzers guy works for the big three directly or indirectly.

    • Conception

      I think he lives at home still in the basement…

  • peterallcdn

    Agreed!!! Bell, Telus and Rogers should be forced to drop their other brands so the market and competition is clearer to the consumer.

    • nolies

      So with that logic every company that owns multiple brands show be forced to reduce themselves? What about all the car companies? Or Pepsi and Coke? Or even better, that mom an pop shop who finally have enough money to expand and buy another shop? Should all those companies be forced back to one? I hope you never become successful enough to be able to expand otherwise you’d be making a mockery of your own ideology.

      it’s not like they’re hiding their brands, They are all publicly traded companies and show all their assets to the population. if you are unhappy with how they decide to make money, feel free to fork up the 8 billion it takes to create and run a comparable network to the big 3 and then see how much you’ll need to charge to make ends meet at the end of the month. Until then stop posting your garbage on the internet.

  • Ranger

    well reality is that Tony is telling the truth.

    It is artificial competition created by the big brands. how are they competing ?
    they aren’t

    They compete when the government gets involved and then go back to b.s tactics.

    The average cost of a decent plan with data on these carriers is above 50-60 bucks and for the lower tier you get 500MB if lucky and also 10 dollar call display

  • lewis

    I’m for competition, but somewhat agree. Give the new players the same access given to fido/koodo/virgin or do away with those 3……….or do away with their parents.

    Further if the CRTC really wanted to shake things up they’d open up services on top of the infrastructure like Google voice. Why do I need a phone number tied to one sim when I just want a voice service riding on data – whether that data service is via wifi or from whatever carrier. No separate plans for voice and data, no gouging for data, no differential rates for data depending on device (why can I have a auto tiering flex data plan starting at $5/month on a tablet, but not a phone?) . The technology has advanced to the point where this is as ridiculous as saying an email account is limited to only one MAC address/network adapter……oh and we’re going to charge you a different rate depending on who made the network adapter.

  • MaX Damage

    They should have added “PS. Robelus, make us an offer, we are for sale after all”

    • nolies

      HA! best comment today!

  • iPlunks

    Wind/Mobilicity should NOT blame the big 3 for anything (in a sense) Its the consumers fault. A few years ago everyone was waiting for these companys to come out. They came out and people complain about phone costs, well thats how much they cost with no strings attached. Then there the Coveage issue. Frankly, if you wanted the company to over take “we” should have stuck it out so they would have the money to build a bigger and better network. But again Canadians just complain even when they have a good thing.

    • Josh Brown

      I work in the country how am I suppose to get wind? it is 5 cents a km roaming that would kill me what we need is a foreign company like t-mobile to buy wind that would shake things up. Offer unlimited North America Talk text and data. And expand winds network. I would switch in a second.

    • iPlunks

      Do you know how much it cost to put up towers. They are not going to just swoop in and make damage immediately. Consumers should have stayed in it for the long haul

    • Josh Brown

      That is what investors are for people will not switch without coverage tthatis just a fact of life. $30 is not a deal if you have no connection.

    • iPlunks

      The people want it, why would we have to depend on investor to fully carry the load. If wind had a little more than half of robellus network, do you think they will simply charge $30?

    • Josh Brown

      because that’s how business works they provide money now and make money later.

    • iPlunks

      I guess that’s bad business, hence wind and mobilicity

    • Tom

      A silly reply, Josh. You sound like you’ve expected a national network from new entrants in 6 months or less. Depending on where you reside, it will take years, or it may never come at all! That’s just reality. Accept it.

      It’s those who HAD access to new entrants services that iPlunks was discussing, and I partially agree. I have been with Wind for 2.5 years, and I am glad, that I can contribute to competition. However, if it didn’t work for me as well as it does, it would have been much harder to stay.

      As it stands now, I am saving hundreds of dollars every year, while my service includes unlimited talk, text, and 5GB of data for under $40 (taxes in).

    • Josh Brown

      How is that silly. All I am responding to is the people that act like we are terrible for not switching to wind, people have reasons maybe the commute or have family where it does cover. Also I tested there network in streetsville in the middle of mississauga and no coverage. I would love to switch but I also need data at all times for work. I can not afford to pay for a couple cell towers myself with 5 cents a kb. And I am not the only one that spends a great deal of time outside their network range.

    • J-Ro

      Finally, someone who knows how business and consumers work. Canadians love to rant but do very little to get the gears of change working. Maybe in the future if a company comes along, they might have to bold out “service will not be good until we are established but that doesn’t mean we don;t need your support”

      If we finally learn to read terms and agreements, we might actually get real competition

    • Morgan Freeman

      TRUTH! Canadians are extremely passive and lazy when it comes to standing up for their own well being. They rarely care to do anything when governing bodies decide on something that should never have been passed.

    • Ulysses

      All Canadians care about is hockey and we will never win a Stanley cup for the next 20 years.

    • Fo Shizzle

      Too bad people are stuck on 3 yr contracts which prevented them from making the move if they did want to go…

    • iPlunks

      We’re not stuck in a 3 yr contract. We are stuck in a loan we agreed on in order for us to use those $600 phones we did not want to pay for. There are mid range androids and great WP8 phones for $250 off contract that work just as good as the big boys. (ok NOT like them) but your not missing anything specail (on a sense you are). If we get manufacturing companys to make better priced phones, contracts would not be a issue. Microsoft/Nokia are trying to set a trend where you have one OS that functions for everyone from low end to high end. Remember its the carriers paying $600 for phones that we don’t want to use after 2yrs.

    • Aaron Airline

      What’s to bad is that people will get into a 3 year contract to have the latest iphone and then cry about it because they want the new next gen phone a year later. Canadians are dumb consumers. I really do not think they understand the concept of promoting competition and what that can do for them. i.e. Fido.
      In just a couple of short years Fido has brought back a distant cousin of the City Plan and most people I talk to don’t understand they should be thanking Wind and Mobilicity for this. In fact for 30 dollars Wind is offering the same thing Fido called the City Plan back in the late 90′s, which was unlimited talking texting and some data for 30 bucks. You would think that as a company gets bigger the deals would be getting better but in the case of Rogers and the other 2 big guys this is not the case.
      It sure wasn’t regulation imposed on Rogers by the CRTC that has been getting them to offer more competitive prices. Though that does seem to be changing as of June 2. In the end I do njot think cell phone consumers even want to be saved so many people have been screwed by a 3 year contract and have still come crawling back for what ads have been telling them is the latest greatest phone.

  • Tom

    No, I don’t want Fido/Virgin/Koodo to be killed. They offer the same networks and same speeds as Robellus but give more for less.

    I pay $39 for 450 minutes, 600 MB of data, unlimited evenings/weekends, and no extra charge for domestic long distance or caller ID (should be a crime to charge for those). Obviously Wind has superior value but they unfortunately lack coverage where I work or I’d have switched long ago.

    I haven’t looked at the main Robbers page for a while, but last time I checked, $50 a month didn’t even get you 500 MB, and you still paid extra for long distance and caller ID. Fido absolutely trashes those plans – even American carriers don’t offer that much for so little, except maybe T-Mobile.

    What I want is for the government to give Wind/Mobi the same level of subsidy they gave to Robellus when the latter was still developing, and then they can improve coverage and indoor reception, and then I can finally switch! But until then, I’ll continue subscribing (reluctantly) to the lower-priced MVNOs.

    • Joseph Morin

      How about Robellus pays back their subsidies to the new entrants?

    • Tom

      That’s an even better idea, lol.

    • nolies

      So you’re saying as soon as you become successful you should be forced to give your hard earned profit to your competition???

      WHY WHY that’s brilliant!!! You should go start a company right away I can’t wait for my cut of your business!

    • Tom

      Why so butthurt over a joke, lies?

  • Sanjay Kumar

    Wind should have bought or aqquire rights for mobilicity. And should have kept mid-range and low range devices on it.
    But most mobilicity stores are franchising. It would have been bit difficult to maintain it.

    • Joseph Morin

      Wind couldn’t afford it on their own. They would need the foreign capitol to help them acquire mobilicity and build the network. It also would still require the government to approve the acquisition.

    • Ulysses

      Wind is an example that the Canadian Government should help to keep the competition balance not kissing the Big 3′s asses

  • Sun Sun

    Rogers, Bell and Telus (just like Wind, Mobilicity, and Public Mobile) are in the business of making money by selling telecom services to consumers.
    They are not in the business of making fools out of people or pretending there is competition.

    To make money in this business, whether prices/ deals are often negotiable (back pocket offers, retention offers, limited-time offers, etc.), telecom companies use the economic concept of rent-seeking. You start with a basic suite of price points, and then negotiate with the customer. That way you hit each customer on their equilibrium point and maximize profits on the whole.

    Customers in Canada do the same. They negotiate with sales persons or client care persons. Often they will also jump at the slightest loophole that the sales person hints at. That is just the reality of it. (ever heard the Wind sales guy tell you to sign up prepaid on Rogers, and then port-in the number to Wind ? Boom, $100-$150 port-in credit. That agent just cheated their own company to make a sale, and save you some money. Did you say – No. That is immoral and I would not have it ??)

    In other industries, you see this in automobile sales all the time.

    Marketing has an important component called Branding. Branding, for those who have studied it and practice it, is more complex just names and logos. A company may own multiple brands not to just create an artificial sense of competition (As being alleged by many here), but also to address different customer segments with different attitudes, wants and needs, and economic strength. Think of the various brands owned by FMCG companies like Unilever and Proctor & Gamble.

    Running a business also involves acquisitions and mergers. Cellphone manufacturers like Samsung and Apple are constantly snapping up smaller tech companies to acquire their proprietary systems and patents, etc. Of course, the Big 3 would continue to buy out small companies, but that is why there is regulation against it.

    I don’t mind what Lacavera says. He has to say whatever he can, whether it half-truths or populist statements, to help his company out. He doesn’t sleep knowing that what he is doing is “right” for the customer. He sleeps knowing that he has spread some more information (truth or not), to advance the cause of his company.

    As a Canadian consumer, I am obviously inclined to favour Lacavera’s populist statements. I think that it would help me save a few bucks a month. As a Canadian investor, I would have second thoughts about the business climate in Canada if CRTC were to ascribe to Lacavera’s statements of essentially getting the govt to control telecom companies (force shutdown of brands).

    I don’t have a well rounded opinion on foreign ownership of Canada’s airwaves because I don’t know the in and outs of all sides of the debate. Sure, it would lead to me save a few hundred dollars a year in cellphone bills and perhaps even better service… not sure how it would lead to values of pensions plans in Canada, jobs in Canada, and other sensitive topics like national security.

    • nolies

      Thank you for being one of the few with a brain here today! so refreshing to read comments with actual necessity.

  • JB

    I’m all for this. I say break up all of the big 3 not only by mobile brands (which is nothing but a deception), but also by competing services: tv, phone, and internet. They just simply aren’t competing or innovating because they’re so monolithic.

    • nolies

      That’s it screw everyone who owns other companies. that’s exactly what the Canadian working industry needs, close all the sub brands and kick millions out of a job. as long as you sleep better at night whats the harm right?

    • kEiThZ

      Bad for the industry. Great for the country at large. When a utility sector has high prices, every other sector of the economy pays.

      I have zero issues with a less profitable telecom sector. It means other sectors of our economy are saving capital that they can reinvest.

  • Scott

    Well said Mr Lacavera! We need to break this co-dependant relationship between the big 3 and the bureaucrats, and have a truly open and competitive marketplace for wireless services. If this means that foreign companies become players within Canada then so be it, as long as the Canadian companies have equal access to the foreign markets.

  • hardy83

    Regardless on what you think of Wind, having 9 brands owned by 3 companies is complete BS for the wireless industry.

    If anything sub brands should AT LEAST be forced in marketing and logos to have a disclaimer on who owns them, including the parent logo.
    You only see it in the small print. If that.
    If it is exactly to create the illusion of competition.

    And forcing fair relationships with MVNOs, KIND of like with our Internet infrastructure would be nice.

    • Scazza

      Maybe the consumer should do their due diligence before they spend 1200$+ on a 3year contract with a company if they are worried about who owns it. Who the hell spends money on something without knowing what they are getting into? Stupid consumers, that’s who. If they don’t spend 30secs on google to figure out that Virgin is owned by Bell, or Chatr is owned by Rogers, that’s their problem.

      On top of that, who the hell cares? If Virgin is going to give a consumer excellent service compared to Wind for a price that they can live with, what does it matter who is the owner in the long run? Only a fool would spend a ton of money based on morals. As a consumer, they wont care.

      Also SOLO no longer accept new customers, so their “brand” is just servicing existing ones…

    • Sun Sun

      Scazza, you got downvoted because you mentioned a pain-point… most consumers don’t want to take any responsibility for their actions.

      The best part is, many of the readers here probably work in industries that buy/ sell products or services from/ to other consumers or businesses. (somewhere along the value chain). They full well realize the importance of information, and I’m sure they appreciate the concept of information asymmetry.

      And yet we will ignore all of that and scream about morals, when it is really about us earning/ saving a dollar.

      A car salesman will tell you his horror stories about dealing with telecom, but will turn around and pinch a first time buyer.

      A cosmetics company marketer will tell you about his/her massive phone bills, but will turn around and put up ads that only talk about the benefits of their products.

      All these people know how businesses are run. I won’t insult their intelligence by saying they don’t understand. They just are not willing to admit to the fact that many times their arguments are not based in ethics, but personal greed. (Which is fine… all’s fair in love and war)

  • God

    Yes, let’s all listen to wind, that’s going well for them, liking for a buyer and all.

  • Anmar

    I am with iPlunks. Canadians need to embrace the new entrants to drive change. I have been with Wind since the beginning. Network sucked a bit but gotten better over time. if we don’t give them a chance, they won’t survive.

  • kroms

    Mr Tony Lacavera has a point but ………IPlunks understands more then most people here and abroad this great Country. It is NOT the CRTC, NOT Bell , NOT Rogers , NOT Telus…or even Wind that is a problem.

    The PROBLEM is the Canadian people. I dropped rogers and went to first mobilicity and now WIND because i wanted to support them. If everyone did that then ROGERS and the everyone else would get the MESSAGE. Just as COKE did when they tried to introduce NEW Coke over there Original Brand. The People eventually taught the Marketing WORLD a Lesson. People decide what makes it and what doesn’t not Marketing or Company’s.

    • Mo

      Good luck trying to get people to understand how subsidies work. Hopefully the 2 year opt out will force them to raise prices and allow Wind to compete.

  • Gitarooman

    they should worry about their customer service to begin with, some of the worse ever though others arent much better. Only reason I stick to them is because they are cheap and I’m within their coverage 99% of the time.

    • Tom

      In my 2.5 years with Wind, I called them once (this was in the very beginning), and the service was pleasant. But, just like with any other carrier, once you have bigger issues, you will likely be facing the much dreaded “run around”. I had experienced it with Rogers. That was one of the reasons that I switched to Wind.

    • kEiThZ

      The biggest feature of their customer service is that you don’t have to call them every 6 months to pretend to cancel your service to get a deal. I can count on one hand the number of times, I’ve called Wind CS in the 3+ years I’ve been with them.

  • matt

    If wind wants a national network they should build one or they should merge with other geographically limited networks like SaskTel, Eastlink, etc, why should the big 3 be punished for being successful? Plus what if they just dropped Koodo, Virgin and Fido, then the only 3 national providers would have a bigger pure share of the market only now at the most expense

  • Thomas C. Riddell

    some people don’t like wind but I am fan and Have been customer for 2 years now I ise there pay before service and for 29.00 + Tax I am very happy .

    • Shawn Lancaster

      I worked for Wind during the Ottawa launch. After I left the company, I switched my service to Mobilicity and while it hasn’t been terrible, I find myself thinking of going back to Wind if I can get a good deal. Hard to beat what I have right now, but the lack of coverage in certain areas is a nightmare!

  • malingerer

    Lacavera’s statement is entirely self serving. Opening up the Canadian market and remove foreign ownership restrictions entirely would ensure that all participants would be swallowed like the small fish they are (on a global scale) by AT&T or Verizon or Wind’s own parent company. He’s not being altruistic, he’s driven by profit and market control himself. A perfect world for Lacavera is far from a perfect world for most.

    • Tom

      What malingerer is trying to say here, is that he does not want competition, nor does he want excellent plans at fair prices. I hope that he can explain himself.

    • malingerer

      Easy enough, from my POV, I’d rather have strong Canadian companies capturing the majority of our telecom business rather than foreign companies profiteering and driving that revenue outside of the country (keep it in Canadian pension funds, increase the value of all of our RSPs, drive it back into local investment, and benefit from the tax base which 100s of 1000s of Canadians working directly in telecom and tertiary industries drive into national, regional, and local coffers) .

      I don’t want dollar store wireless service, you get what you pay for, but if it was up to you and others we would open the doors, let the Canadian incumbents be sold to foreign entities, and then see if your hoped for rock bottom pricing stays or goes. We tried Wind and definitely got what we paid for (didn’t pay much didn’t get much).

      All these companies need to make money (we do live within a system primarily based on capitalism), and evidently, they (Mobilicity and Wind) can’t do it at unlimited everything for $40 month AND have a quality network and service structure that fulfills their whole promise. Your viewpoint is entirely self serving and doesn’t look at the entire picture.

      My business and personal life relies on dependability; that quality doesn’t come for free.

    • kEiThZ

      Nonsense. Telecom is a utility sector. High utility prices have severe economic consequences. I would rather see more foreign involvement and a humbled Canadian telecom sector thant keep paying high prices that impact every other sector of our economy.

      Let’s stop pretending we have a captialist economy while applying Soviet style protectionism to the telecom, airline and banking sectors. Let them sink or swim like anybody else. If you make widgets, the government doesn’t protect you from foreign competition. Why should the telcos be protected?

  • Sweet

    MTS just sold Allstream to a firm backed by Sawiris, who is also rumoured to be planning to buy Wind. So we may just see a Wind-Allstream merger instead.

    My guess is that Sawiris is playing vulture, and waiting for Mobi to go bankrupt so he can pick up the assets for peanuts. Admittedly, a very obvious guess. :-)

  • wes

    If Wind had come to Quebec, there would be no reason not believe that they would be close to 1 million subs.

    Screw you Videotron! And I’m sure the Quebec Government has something to do with it. I demand an inquiry!!! Corrupt politicians! I’m sure somewhere someone got paid.

    • TheOnlyAdvantageToLiveInQuebec

      In Quebec we have the BIG 4, which is even worst… We really have NO OPTION at all, we cannot choose to have less coverage and better deal.

  • Scazza

    What I love about the commenters on here who scream for the blood of “Robellus” will never run a successful business if they ran it like they think it should be run. Its a business, they are out for profit, not here to give you a hug, and if you think WIND wouldn’t do the same if it ever got so big, you are DREAMING…

    • Tom

      Robelus is the Apple of the wireless industry. We get it.

  • Joesmith

    Some of you people on here are soooooo passionate about these telecommunications companies that you argue with each other like it is the end of the world.
    I really hope you people realize that NONE of these companies give a crap about any of you… So you look like fools fighting for something that doesn’t even care about you and will keep raping you, double billing you every chance they get!
    Summer is here somewhat, get outside and get some fresh air and a tan.

  • Brad Nelson

    I keep hoping that Wind makes its way to Vancouver Island. I’m so tired of being locked in to a Robbers account. I’ve considered going to Bell, but I’m still getting screwed, it’s just a different hand thrusting the stick in my rectum.

  • bigshynepo

    Up until recently, Wind Mobile’s parent company was Orascom. This is the same company that has partnered with the North Korean government to bring heavily controlled wireless coverage to the DPRK. I hate how the big 3 have monopolized our country’s wireless market but I’d rather do business with them than to support companies that are connected to North Korea’s oppressive regime.

  • disqus_hcvHo7xG02

    WIND: “whaaa whaaaa, I want everything to change in my favour all the time. I don’t want to build, I just want free reign wherever because I’m just little (more subscribers on vimpelcom than inhabitants of Canada!). and I’m here for the long haul, unless I can’t get everything I want and until someone takes over all of my tower leases.”
    now that the big 3 can’t buy them, they’re crying harder than ever…

  • Dragonballzpokemon

    So what the CEO of Wind mobile is saying is that big companies should stop creating other sub brands so he can be the sole company selling mobile services? Wow that really shows how confident he is whit his company`s success lol. A message to Mr. Lacavera, if you want Wind mobile to be better than start offering things that distinguishes you from other carriers. Dropping prices but not bringing anything new to consumers will only sink you down.

  • kEiThZ

    Disagree. What needs to die are the flanker brands. You don’t see that crap in other countries. There is no reason Rogers can’t offer great service on its own brand.

    Only in Canada, is our market so messed up that companies actually devalue their own brands by running flanker brands to pretend they are competing with themselves! Bizarre.