Wind Mobile: The Canadian Government Listened
Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 15, 2009
You could have knocked me over with a feather.
The Canadian Government actually listened to Canadians
On Friday Industry Minister Tony Clement overturned the CRTC decision to deny Wind Mobile the use of the spectrum they purchased. Instead, Globalive’s WindMobile now has the opportunity to roll out their new cel phone service.
Canadian Cel Phone Service
Canadian cel phone costs… ooof. And have you noticed how every Canadian seems to have at least one cel phone horror story. I haven’t heard anything good about the state of Canadian cel phone service– except from those who are profiting from the cel phone incumbents.
The Canadian government looked at Canadian Cel Phone service and realized that Canadians were paying through the nose. Our government decided to attempt to remedy the situation by auctioning some cel spectrum on which the incumbents would not be allowed to bid. The point was to introduce new players. The hope was to trigger competition.
Which could only be good for Canadian consumers.
Vetted by Industry Canada, Globalive’s Wind Mobile was allowed to bid in the spectrum auction— because they had been approved. They paid their money then went on to lay out piles of cash to set up operations and hire staff and create advertising; they were gearing up to go.
Even before Wind Mobile opened for business strange things began happening in the world of Canadian cel phone service. Some of the incumbents began changing some of their worst policies. After all, they were about to be faced with actual competition in the cel phone market. What a concept!
Canadian consumers were happy…
Of course, the incumbent Cel providers were not. They complained to their friends at the CRTC. They said that Wind Mobile is not Canadian enough.
CRTC listened to the complaint, and decided that Wind Mobile was not Canadian enough. Even though as near as I can tell, Wind Mobile is a Canadian company run by Canadians. They have foreign investment capital. Most businesses require investment capital. Just as most people need financing to buy a home. Just becasue a bank starts out holding the mortgage doesn’t make it the banks’s house.
Even though Wind Mobile had paid the Canadian government millions for the cel spectrum they had won in the auction, as well as spending plenty more for the business start up, suddenly Wind Mobile was in limbo. Talk began to float around about how the incumbents would now be able to buy the Wind Mobile spectrum — at bankruptcy prices.
…thoughts of competition had danced in our heads
Canadian consumers were not happy to have the competition we wanted snatched away. There was grumbling. And muttering. Many voices were raised in opposition to this CRTC decision. Many voices. For instance, I muttered and grumbled in this very blog. And I was not the only one. One of the things I read and heard over and over again were complaints about the lack of “Canadianess” of our Canadian Cel phone providers. (Although some of them operate under more than one name, which may be confusing the CRTC into thinking that there is lots of competition, there are really only 3 Canadian cel providers, the “incumbents”… Bell, Rogers and Telus.
Although these companies are “Canadian”, Bell Canada, for instance, has shut down much of their operations on Canadian soil in order to set up operations overseas so they don’t need to spend as much money. (Not that they passed any of this savings along to consumers, you understand.)
Wind Mobile’s head honcho Tony Lacavera fought the CRTC decision. He gave interviews in the mainstream media so Canadians knew what was happening. He appealed to Industry Canada. They had after all given him the go ahead, and all the costs Globalive had incurred to start up Wind Mobile were done in good faith. He took it to the Canadian Cabinet.
[We’re in a recession! Here are Canadian entrepreneurs bringing a huge investment into Canada. And the CRTC is telling them to go away? Do they not live in the same world you and I do?]
Most amazingly of all, our government listened. Industry Minister Tony Clement overturned the CRTC ruling Friday December 11th, 2009.
Globalive Welcomes Gov’t of Canada Decision and Prepares to Bring WIND Mobile to Market in time for Christmas.
Imagine my surprise to read this diatribe Telco decision violates Telecommunications Act: Union from Canada’s “largest telecom and media union” criticizing the Canadian Government’s decision. I would have thought that a union of telecom and media workers would support new investment in Canada’s telecom industry. Instead they are parroting the Incumbent Cel phone companies.
Am I naive in thinking that a union representing telecom workers would welcome a company that could offer jobs to the many telecom workers who lost their jobs due to downsizing or when Bell moved so much of their operations overseas? If I was a member of this union I would be wondering whose side CEP is on.
Critics of Mr. Clement’s decision are citing foreign ownership as the problem.
Is foreign ownership bad for Canadian culture?
I have a hard time believing foreign ownership of a phone company could have much impact on Canadian culture. The only change in our culture I can envision is that griping about our cel phone providers may no longer be a national pastime.
If you want to know about culture, let’s just take a quick peek at the “Canadian Music Industry”. The four primary members of the Canadian Recording Industry Association are: Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada. Please note that all four have “Canada” appended to their names to differentiate them from the non-Canadian mother companies, Warner Music Group, Sony Music, EMI Music, and Universal Music. For decades the Canadian music industry has been dominated by “branch plants” of foreign companies.
Foreign domination of our music industry has been the reality accepted by Canadians since the mid twentieth century.
And let’s not forget that once upon a time the Canadian Parliament passed a special law incorporating a largely foreign owned company– Bell Canada — as a Canadian Corporation. Isn’t it about time our telecommunication industry got some new blood?
Wind Mobile could hardly do worse than the incumbents.
I don’t know about you, but I still believe one of the best things for Canada would be the dissolution of the CRTC, so
If you haven’t yet: Sign the Petition, check it out at:
and if you have, tell everyone who will be affected by increased internet costs