In case you haven’t heard, all three of Canada’s major wireless carriers are raising the rates on their plans, all coincidentally by $5. It’s hard to figure out which department to file this one under: it could go under “Are You &$%$# Kidding Me?” or “Oligopoly 101,” but it most likely qualifies for “Digging Our Own Graves.”
Telus, which recently announced it was quitting the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association lobby group, was the first to strike, with leaks in January basically informing the other two of what the acceptable fee increases would be. Bell and Rogers of course followed Canada’s “uncarrier” (chortle) and now all three are moving in unison.
This marks the second major fee increase since the summer, when the Big Three all simultaneously brought in hikes to coincide with the elimination of three-year contracts.
Why is this happening? It’s very simple, really: the new entrants are dead, and so is competition. Public Mobile has been bought by Telus, Mobilicity is under creditor protection and Wind is being left to wither on the vine by its Russian owner Vimpelcom (neither of those last two companies bought all-important new spectrum in the recently concluded auction).
The one potential challenger that did buy spectrum in that auction, Quebecor, isn’t just being coy about whether it will actually use it, the company is also now in a state of flux since its chief executive Pierre Karl Peladeau just declared himself a separatist.
Things haven’t looked this dark for the Canadian wireless consumer since both Clearnet and Fido were taken out by the Big Three more than a decade ago. The government’s claims of lowering wireless prices over the past few years, if they were ever true, now look laughable. Any gains made since 2008 have been erased in a matter of months.
For consumers and industry observers, this is exasperating to say the least. For the government, it must be infuriating. At a time when they should be walking on eggshells, the carriers are instead thumbing their noses at Ottawa.
Dumb, dumb, dumb. When you ask to get nailed, sooner or later the hammer comes down.