Thursday, October 08, 2009

Canadian Wireless System Needs a Fix
by Gerald Trites

Canada has one of the most regressive and outdated wireless systems in the world. Generally. Canada is a technologically sophisticated country but in the wireless area, this does not apply.

Canadians pay the price in cell phone bills, the outdated practice of requiring contracts to obtain cell phones, the lack of availability of spectrum to more providers and the outmoded system of regulation.

True, more spectrum has been made available to some new competitors in the wireless area, and we are all waiting impatiently for them to arrive (at least consumers in selected areas are because the first ventures into the market will be limited to certain areas like Toronto). But this is something that should have been done years ago.

The big problem has been lack of competition, and still the arena is dominated by just three companies - Rogers, Telus and Bell. This is simply not competition, is oligarchic at best and not in the best interests of the consumer. The government and regulators seem to know this, but are bound by the old regulatory system which takes years to make simple rulings.

We see this not only in higher cell phone bills than most other areas of the developed world, like Asia and Europe, but in the availability of new technologies. We had to wait until the iPhone could be sold in Canada. We are having to wait for the arrival of the Kindle, because of issues among the carriers. We will have to wait for the arrival of future products such as the  forthcoming Reader from Apple, which will likely take the market by storm in other parts of the world and we will only be able to watch from the sidelines.

We also suffer from lack of online programming because of Canadian regulatory systems, such as the CRTC, which again is outdated and irrelevant. For example, Canadians cannot watch programming on for this very reason.

It's time the Canadian Government initiated a major reworking of the Canadian wireless and online programming regulatory framework. Canadians dsserve better.

For a good article on the Kindle issue, see this article in the Globe.

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