Lower Cell Phone Rates Coming to Canada? Government Opens Wireless Market up to Broader Competition

By Kevin Michaluk on 29 Nov 2007 09:14 am EST
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Potentially good news for BlackBerry users in Canada. It seems the feds (federal government) have decided to open up the Canadian market to broader competition against the will of the big players (Bell, Rogers, Telus). An auction of the "wireless spectrum" will occur next May, which should shakes things up and hopefully result in lower prices, better service and more choices for consumers. Details after the jump.

Lower Cell Phone Rates Coming to Canada? 

The federal government is opening up Canada’s wireless communications industry to more competition, a move that could lead to lower cellphone rates. A three-week auction of wireless spectrum — or capacity — to be held next May should foster competition between telecommunications companies and, ultimately, result in lower prices, better service and more choice for consumers, Industry Minister Jim Prentice said yesterday at a news conference in Toronto.

In the auction, about 105 megahertz of new spectrum will be made available for bidders, with 40 megahertz of that set aside for newcomers to the industry. Foreign companies will not be able to make independent bids on spectrum, but may do so in partnership with a Canadian firm.

"A more competitive wireless market is in the best interests of all Canadians," Prentice said. "The amount of spectrum takes into account the need for new entry in all regions of Canada while considering the interests of incumbent operators and their current spectrum holding."

To be eligible to compete for bandwidth set aside for new players, companies must currently hold less than 10 per cent of the national wireless market based on revenue. The telecom market is currently dominated by its three biggest players, Rogers Communications, Bell Mobility and Telus. Industry watchers say increased competition could help pull down cellphone rates in Canada, which are significantly higher than in either the United States or Europe.

Potential new carriers have also asked the government to mandate "reasonable" roaming arrangements and cellphone tower sharing practices in order to give them time to establish their own networks.

At least two companies — Quebecor Inc. of Montreal and Winnipeg-based MTS Allstream Inc. — have expressed interest in bidding on the spectrum auction.

The auction has been opposed by Bell, Rogers and Telus as giving new entrants special privileges and an unfair competitive advantage.

[ CP via MetroNews

Topics: News & Rumors

Reader comments

Lower Cell Phone Rates Coming to Canada? Government Opens Wireless Market up to Broader Competition

5 Comments

Could easily open up the doors for AT&T if they wanted to cut throat Rogers, AT&T has long been buying up canadian blocks of phone numbers, but their previous affiliation with Rogers could impede that as being a valid option.

Only way for AT&T to get a piece of the canadian market as stipulated in these open access rules is that a foreign company must be attached to the canadian company in a joint venture. Thus perhaps Rogers and AT&T will bond again to storm the market with the increase capital and coverage and perhaps split profits 50/50 with the proceeds of the new venture

But suffice to say the governmetn recognizes that major players in the US and UK expecially have the funding and capability to knock down the big guys and thus made this stipulation.

I joined before they changed the name to Rogers Wireless. Anyone remember Cantel AT&T? I was rockin' the nokia 5120 back in '99 and at the time people really thought you were talking to yourself when you used an earpiece lol.

So do you guys think we may get the whole unlimited data thing happening up here? I'm on the $60 dollar 25MB plan, I want to upgrade because I feel like I hardly use data services and I'm crawling close to my 25MB limit. Rogers $100 plan is only 200MB, but telus' $100 data plan is 1024MB. They're $60 dollar plans are 25MB and 30MB respectively so there's really not much of a difference there. I really want to start using my phone for video, audio and other things, but I would chew up 200MB pretty quick.
Do you guys think we may get an unlimited data plan with this upcoming auction? I'd be willing to pay the $100 for unlimited, but not for 200MB. I've already contacted Rogers asking if they're going to somewhat match the $100/1024MB plan, but their response was "Unfortunately we are unaware when new services and plans will be released until they are launched to the consumer market"
I wonder if enough people inquire about unlimited plans if they'll hurry a little. Any thoughts?

Very interesting development. Because of Rogers exorbitant data rates, I’ve disabled EDGE on every smart phone I’ve ever known (I don’t want to accidentally hit MMS or YouTube and end up with a $1K bill). Bell and Telus made some drops last week (for select devices like HTC Touch or Pearl), maybe Rogers will finally come to their senses and realize volume pricing is a sound principle.

hey, bell has an unlimited data plan. catch? you have to be a corporation. if you have a CORP/CORP plan, unlimited data is available for 60$ which is pretty good. so... check to see if any of the associations you associate with, or businesses you do business with have a corp plan with Bell, then slap on the unlimited!!!! then, enjoy!