Industry Minister to make an ‘important announcement’ about ‘consumer choice and better services’

Ian Hardy

January 9, 2014 4:04pm

James Moore, Canada’s Minister of Industry, has declared tomorrow a day of importance. The Minister has sent a message out to media that says he “will make an announcement about consumer choice and better services in the wireless market.” No other details or hints as to what he has planned, but the fun starts at 1:00pm (EST) sharp.

Moore previously committed to help ‘everyday Canadians’ by reducing roaming costs within Canada, which he delivered on a few weeks ago. Perhaps the announcement has something to do with the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction that starts on Monday… Bottom line is that it’ll do something about consumers, choice and wireless services.

Source: IC

  • Max Fireman

    The minister will announce “Unlimited data plans for all carriers at unbeatable prices”. One can dream right?

  • mwahahahaha

    WHAT!!!! They’re gonna be giving out free one way tickets to Finland??!!!! Sweet!

  • HeyYoWL

    You know, I think it would be useful to everyone if there was a mandate that the Big 3 MUST use their ridiculous profits to actually expand their coverage and services.

    • Peter

      Hmm, I disagree completely. Telling a private-sector business how to spend profits is pretty-much what they do in communist/socialist countries. In our free-market economy, no one has a right to tell me how to spend the profits of MY company, the company I started and worked hard to make successful.

      Bottom line, if a company continues to rest on its laurels, and not, as you say, “expand their coverage and services,” they will eventually go out of business. As consumers, we have choices. Exercise your choice if you don’t like things as they are now.

    • canuck07

      It’s not like Canada isn’t socialist. If it weren’t you would have free health care

    • Liberal Phone Person

      Canada’s a mixed economy. Social systems within a larger capitalist framework. We have the benefits (and detriments) of both systems

    • Al Chui

      Canada’s health care system is anything BUT free. You may not get an invoice every year to pay, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t pay for it.

    • Stephen B Morris

      You’re right. It’s not free. It’s prepaid.

    • It’s Me

      Who ever told you our wireless system was based a free-market economy needs to be shot. Our incumbents have been coddled and protected for decades and have had regulation designed to foster their growth. That isn’t a bad thing, but it is the antithesis of “free-market”. Our “free-market” protected them from facing foreign competitors for years…not so free market.

      If you truly support a free market system, then should be in favour of the government terminating all existing spectrum licenses and holding a new set of auctions with no foreign ownership restriction and no preference given to the incumbents as they were accustomed to for many, many years,

      As far as “how to spend profits”, those profits are derived from reselling out natural resources back to us, so they damn well should expect some requirements placed on those licenses. Otherwise, let them operate as carriers without our spectrum and see how that goes.

    • Canook

      Your understanding of the situation is flawed in so many areas.

      If the govt were to hold a new set of auctions with no restrictions, the incumbents would buy MORE spectrum. The restrictions on the auction right now LIMIT how much spectrum they can buy. They gave Verizon a FAVOURABLE entry into Canada, but Verizon declined. The regulation in the wireless industry is not favourable for the incumbents.

      Natural resources or not, you can’t tell any entity what to do with their money. Same goes with the traditional natural resources (mining, lumber, real estate, etc)

    • It’s Me

      Ah, but you can attach conditions on the required licenses. This is very common. Lumber companies have requirements including replanting, that cost them their money. Almost any and every regulated industry in every country in the world has restrictions that cost companies real money.

      The restrictions you mention are new. The incumbents build their businesses with the older regulations that banned foreign companies from competing and that allocated spectrum to them in bid-free, non auctioned processes.

      I am very saddened by the state of our education system.

      And in an auction of existing spectrum without prohibitions in foreign companies, a real level playing field, the incumbents would trying to buy more but with all spectrum in play, foreign money would have huge incentive to move in and scoop it out from under them. That isn’t the case today because the big 3 horde all of the available prime spectrum. A re-auctioning of all of that would remove that barrier.

    • Canook

      Industry knowledge isn’t taught through our education system. Economics, however, is. You’ve likely been following this industry for many years now, but you lack a deep understanding of how a business is run.

    • It’s Me

      A proper education should teach one things like critical thinking, rational thinking and how to examine facts.It should leave one with the ability to use those tools to come to reasonable conclusions instead of kneejerk reactions that use misunderstood buzzwords like “socialism” when talking about regulation of industry.

    • Canook

      You are mistaken, I never mentioned socialism nor have I alluded to the idea. In fact, I believe regulation is required for many industries, telecommunications included. But your idea of re-auctioning all spectrum licenses in the Canadian market is so stupid, it baffles me. It represents a lack of understanding of business operations and an extreme perspective from only a consumer’s perspective. If spectrum were taken from companies that own it and re-sold at market value or under market value (incumbents have been paying 3x+ market value, see Mobilicity offers) to new foreign investors, they’d be losing a whole deal of money, not to mention business. Who loses? Current incumbent customers as well as shareholders (ie. Canadian shareholders). Say a foreign entity enters Canada, like Verizon. In the short term, they would price competitively for market share. But you look 2 years down the road, after a cycle of wireless contracts, you have to understand Verizon is a profit maximizing corporation, much like the incumbents, there is no incentive to price low to gain market share. Big 3 becomes Big 4. When I read your posts, it shows me that you haven’t thought much about the implications of your ideas, but instead they are kneejerk reactions from emotional feelings as a consumer.

    • It’s Me

      O. M. G.

      Did I really need to say I was being sarcastic with that suggestion? It wasn’t even a suggestion of something we should consider but a suggestion of something that “Peter” should be in favour of if he thinks common regulation, such as build out requirements, are socialist. No one that thinks that is socialist could support the regulation that was in place for decades that was meant to coddle the incumbents, foster their growth and protect them from foreign competition.

      It was meant to show how idiotic an idea that buildout licensing requirements is socialist actually was. Guess that was lost.

      Now to discuss you contentions about Verizon (or any large carrier coming in). Sure, they would want to make money. We agree that they would have competitive pricing, meaning lower pricing than the incumbents. This would be for two main reasons: to entice new customers as the new player and to compensate for their comparatively tiny network upon entry. Where we might disagree then is what happens after that. Once they have grown to the size of the others, would they maintain price competitiveness. Perhaps not, but I would posit that it would take many years before their offerings could justify similar pricing to the big 3 and in the meantime, the big3 would fight to keep customers with lower prices. Lower pricing would therefore become the new status quo and it would be difficult for Verizon or anyone else to simply jack up rates without tacit agreement of the other 3. So, after the guaranteed years of fierce price competition (something never really seen in Canada except when Wind/Mobi came) there would have to be some catalyst that could be used to drive prices up (similar to the CRTC rules being used as a cover to jack rates back up but only in the face of the failure of the new carriers). Without such a catalyst, there would seem to be little chance of any single carrier deciding to walk away from their ability to keep customers and raise their rates unilaterally.

    • Mawhayden

      Be carefull, you are starting to sound like Putin,that thinking is a slippery slope, add fuel, then food, then housing, then work for life……where does it end comrade…ah the perfect society…

    • It’s Me

      You are confused. Regulation meant to improve the state of an industry is hardy socialist or communist. In fact, now that we are allowing foreign investment and not forbidding it just to protect the national incumbents, it’s even less so.

    • Liberal Phone Person

      “Telling a private-sector business how to spend profits is pretty-much what they do in communist/socialist countries”
      …. Gawd. Read a book

    • HelloCDN

      Yeah, well, the BIG 3 don’t seem to want to live by free-market rules anyway. The Anti-Verizon campaign clearly showed that. Therefore, they do wish to have a regulated market, hence, if we can’t make them compete by allowing a foreign entrant, then we have to find other ways. Otherwise, lift all regulations, including those which have been protecting them for years.

    • sk1d

      The government can’t mandate a company use their profits for anything, but what they could and should do, is make sure that they are using all of the spectrum they have or give it back. What is Telus and Bell doing with their CDMA spectrum?

    • JR

      Are they not still using it to service their legacy CDMA clients. I can’t imagine they migrated everyone to HSPA.

    • sk1d

      Don’t know, that’s why I was asking. Virgin gave my mother an extra credit to upgrade her CDMA phone to a GSM phone last year, which she took advantage of. I guess there could be some stragglers.

  • RG

    Nexus 5 free on the play store!! ;)

    • Kenny G

      That would be a great announcement. ;-)

  • Peter

    WARNING: Grammar Police making a comment …

    Comment deleted as original writer of the article made a correction.

  • Jon R

    Most people point with one finger, but I suppose using both hands adds extra emphasis. I hope he uses that technique tomorrow.

    • Peter

      Don’t forget … when you point a finger at someone, you’re also pointing three fingers at yourself. :)

    • Bryan Dery

      If you read above – you just tried it

  • AKDISQUS

    Is it another change that will affect 5 people while majority still get the standard screw?

  • canuck07

    I hope they announce each of the Big 3 will be broken up like Standard Oil. Or they are announcing a crown corporation 4th national carrier

    • Canook

      Yes then maybe our tax dollars can help subsidize the heavy data users in this country, woo hoo!

  • Liberal Phone Person

    He’s going to announce that as a result of the amount of collusion, the lack of real competition, and the disguising practices over the last 20 years by the big three, He’s going to nationalize the entire telecom industry and create a crown corp, similar to sasktel and tbaytel, where all Canadians will have access at cheap prices, where the goal will be to provide service, not profit, and extra revenues will go into government revenues to pay for education and healthcare.

    • TrainAss

      That’d be awesome!

    • Stephen_81

      If they didn’t just announce they were laying off 8000 Canada Post workers which is a crown corporation that over the last 10 years has made significantly more money than it has ever lost, MAYBE this would be an announcement they would make. But the Harper government like most conservative governments want less government involvement and more private enterprise. The only reason anything was done with the CRTC and contract length was consumer backlash now the government has purchased some votes and really didn’t do much for the consumer.

      I’d love to see the Canadian government own the spectrum, and towers, and lease it back to companies wishing to be providers. They become the wholesaler but private enterprise competes for my business. The advantage is the Government could actually try and expand service nation wide as appose to what will happen if what they’ve been pushing for happens and 90% of population but only 60% of geography will get competition and coverage.

    • JM

      Would have been a good idea in the begining, but now?

    • EvanKrosney

      In a perfect world, yes. But Harper wants nothing to do with crown corps; as a conservative government they’ll undoubtedly push for competition, but the last thing he wants to do is stick the government’s head into the private sector. Especially considering how profitable the field already is for the Big 3. Don’t blame me, blame Harper.

    • JM

      I would fully agree with you but unfortunately I think that if this was to happen the government would fail at managing the business as usual, the salaries would rise, gifts and expenses accounts be created, more management hired, cost increase, productivity decrease, they would spend the profits to fix other ministeries budgets and not invest in their own. In the end we would end up with increased taxes to finance the project, on top of our bill. But of course, if all didn’t go wrong it would be the best idea ever.

    • Liberal Phone Person

      Sasktel and tbaytel. QED.
      Reality trumps conservative talking points every time.

  • Soulrift

    The press release linked says 10:00 am, but your story says 1:00pm.

    • mobilesyrup

      10am Vancouver time

  • Thomas Yok

    I predict that the 700mHz auction is delayed. With an attempt at a positive spin on it, such as to allow other interested parties that have since come forward.

    • Sensualpoet

      Yes, this would be my guess. As TELUS is most likely to be allowed to buy Mobilicity by Feb 26, and there is little opportunity for competition in the upcoming auction as currently configured (four players, four blocks per region … where is the bidding?), what other moves can they make?

    • Al Chui

      Actually, Robellus is only allowed to bid on 2 of the 4 blocks so at least one of them is going to come up empty. I don’t recall the gov’t announcing that they had changed that rule. What will be interesting is what happens on the other 2 blocks. Will an actual providers like Wind end up winning them and put them to use, or will someone buy them hoping to sit on them for 5 yrs till they can flip them?
      Personally, I’d love to see the gov’t institute a “use it or lose it” rule for all spectrum (past & present) for all players so that hoarding becomes a thing of the past.

    • SkAshe

      They can bid on 3 blocks unless one of the small carrier is able to bid for one block AND outbid one of the big three for a second block which is unlikely to happen.

    • Al Chui

      I stand corrected. I thought they were still limited to just 2 of the blocks.
      Of course the little guys can still be a pain in their wallets by bidding up the price like they did in 08.

    • Greg Sandsonni

      More likely that Robelus is being blocked completely from bidding on the 700 spectrum

  • hardy83

    “ill make an announcement about consumer choice and better services in the wireless market.”

    He’ll make an announcement that “consumer choice and better services” in the “wireless market” is a huge oxymoron.

  • Sweet

    A ban on phone subsidies ! Highly unlikely, but I figured I’d mention it anyways. :-)

    • JM

      1: the vast majority of regular consumers really really want a “free” or cheap phone, 2- companies will not lower their monthly prices even if there are no more contracts. They will in fact only make more money, like when they moved to 2yrs contracts. 3- Most people don’t know what is included in their actual plan on the phone they already own, or how much they exactly pay per month. Ask your family and friends if they know.

  • kroms

    ROGERS $5.2 Billion , 12 yr lease just to show HOCKEY.

    Rogers would like to thank the Millions of Canadians Idiots “oops” we mean loyal sheep “oops” we mean loyal customers for letting us continue to Screw you over all these years and keeping the faith.

    We Love you.
    All you need to know right there.

    • JM

      You complain that a company invests it’s money? Funny. What do you do with your money, put it in a pot and not touch it for 12 years? I’m sure. You are the sheep.

    • Jerry Only

      Thats not at all what the op meant, relax.

  • kroms

    The only GREAT Announcement that would make me happy would be ….
    The Canadian Gov is opening up Competition to foreign Company’s ( AT&T , Sprint , Vodafone, ect ect..

    Sadly… that will not happen and we will continue to PAY !! these Exuberant prices that equal legalized extortion.

  • kkritsilas

    I can see the minister just announcing that there will no longer be intercompany specrum transfers of any type allowed, either through spectrum sales, company buy outs, or anything that would allow one company to use another company’s spectrum outside of a roaming agreement. Roaming agreements will need to be non-discriminatory going forward, at competitve market rates, and can only exist between active (mmeaning they actually have paying cell phone subscribers).

    Kostas

    • kkritsilas

      I would think one of two things woukd be possible: a) grandfather all existing arrangements; or b) make roaming available to all carriers. Knowing how wishy-washy IC has been in the past, I think a) is more probable.

      Kostas

  • WhoCares1000

    He’s going to feed his neighbours kids.

  • kevin c

    Looks like the 700 Mhz auction is being delayed until April 2015

  • JLishere

    Headline: “Industry Minister announces major partnership with search giant. Google Voice now available to all Canadians.”