Study shows Canadians want more wireless competition but had no idea about MVNO battle

A study released on April 11 by the Angus Reid Institute of Public Interest Research found that Canadians are unhappy with the current state of the wireless industry. Among the main findings: fewer than one-in-ten Canadians believe they’re getting “a good deal” on the price of their mobile plan, and more than half of those polled believe there is not enough competition in the industry.

But even though Canadians would prefer more options to choose from in an industry ruled by the Big Three, most knew nothing about the fact that the CRTC ruled against what many consumer advocates considered the nation’s best chance at driving prices lower, Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).

MVNOs are small operators that lease major carriers’ wireless networks and provide services to subscribers that are generally lower than the big telecomm companies. There are many MVNOs in the U.S., but very few in Canada — one notable example being the tenacious Sugar Mobile. Those that do pop up tend to get inevitably acquired by one of the Big Three.

A group of internet providers called the Canadian Network Operators Consortium (CNOC) petitioned the CRTC in 2015 to mandate that Bell, Telus and Rogers must lease the use of their wireless networks, so that members of CNOC could create new MVNOs. CNOC argued that this added competition would bring down the cost of wireless services for Canadians, which are some of the highest in the world.

CRTC ruled against MVNOs, however, on the basis that this would discourage big companies from investing in wireless infrastructure. The CRTC reaffirmed that decision in February this year.

It was a ruling that had a large effect on the Canadian public, but according to the study 61 percent of Canadians knew nothing about it. 22 percent said they had scanned the headlines, 14 percent said they had seen some media coverage and had the odd conversation about it and only four percent said they were actively following and discussing with friends and family.

In keeping with the fact that they had little idea about the ruling, 40 percent of Canadians said they had no opinion about it, but those who did take a position were more than three times as likely to say it was the wrong decision, notes the study.

Related reading: Sugar Mobile’s days may be numbered 

[source]Angus Reid Institute[/source]

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