Category Archives: mobile

High wireless prices or high usage? Big bills!

On Tuesday, Telus’s director of broadband policy Craig McTaggart published a detailed 42-page rebuttal to some recent criticisms of the Canadian wireless industry, including a posting from University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist, an Open Media report and a pair of blog posts I wrote. I’ll let those parties speak on their own behalves, but the Telus report does misrepresent some of my observations, which is something I think I need to address.

In the first instance, McTaggart’s rebuttal is titled “Why do Canada’s wireless critics want to turn back time?” I’m not sure if I’m included in that question, but I certainly wouldn’t want anything of the sort to happen. There’s no question Canadian wireless customers have it better today than a few years ago; system access fees have been scrapped, all of the major carriers are offering top-notch phones, the price of data isn’t in the thousands of dollars (unless you happen to forget to turn off roaming) and most Canadians have more service providers to choose from. Those are all positive developments.

That said, the market still has many issues. One of the biggest is when the industry pretends it doesn’t, which was the conclusion of a recent report from Scotia Capital. That report, which kicked off this debate once again, urged the government and regulators to consider their previous interferences with the market to be a success because prices are good and lower than in the United States. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on March 21, 2013 in mobile, telus


Debunking the wireless myth busters, redux

Last week, I made an effort to investigate some of the findings of a recent Scotia Capital report, which itself sought to dispel some of the alleged myths pervading the Canadian wireless market. Some of my conclusions were based on slightly older numbers, taken from a 2011 version of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Wireless Matrix. Since stats such as revenue and profits don’t change that quickly over the course of a year, I felt it was okay to use those numbers.

I’ve since acquired more recent data, as of the third quarter of 2012, which paint a much more accurate and up-to-date picture. BofA’s Global Wireless Matrix is something of a bible for the wireless industry, packed with thorough statistics on virtually every carrier in 50 developed and developing countries. The regular report is the most accurate measure and comparison of wireless carriers around the world, which is probably why the Canadian industry and its allies don’t want the public to see it. The report details just how well they’re doing and does much to prove that Canadians are indeed paying high prices.

The whole document is too bulky to post, but here’s a PDF of the key comparison chart. I’ve also pared the data down into some easier-to-digest charts to compare specific key metrics. Let’s start with penetration: Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on March 18, 2013 in mobile, telecommunications


Dispelling the myths of wireless myth-busting

Thor is a myth. Wireless problems in Canada are not.

Thor is a myth. Wireless problems in Canada are not.

A report last week from Scotia Capital on Canada’s wireless sector caused a commotion, seeking as it did to dispel certain myths with facts. With both the government and regulators recently turning their attention to the wireless market, analyst Jeff Fan sought to tackle some of the commonly held beliefs - namely that Canadian carriers are uncompetitive and are therefore charging high prices.

Telecom consultants and the carriers themselves touted the report as proof that no additional regulation or special dispensations to new competitors are needed. “We think it is time for the regulators to declare victory on the policies they adopted five years ago,” when spectrum set-asides paved the way for new entrants, the report said.

University of Ottawa internet law professor Michael Geist fired back earlier this week with his own take. In his estimation, high prices are no myth - Canada’s wireless market is indeed “woefully uncompetitive.” Consumer advocates Open Media, meanwhile, have issued their own report, urging policy makers to fix the country’s “dysfunctional” situation.

In light of this debate, I thought it might be instructive to take a look at some of the myth-busting facts presented in the Scotia Capital report, to see if they can indeed bear the weight of closer scrutiny. It turns out that they generally can’t. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on March 13, 2013 in bell, mobile, rogers, telecommunications, telus


Canadian internet speeds nothing to brag about

Another international internet report is out and… well, we know the drill by now. This one is the regular State of the Internet Report from Akamai Technologies, the Massachusetts-based content delivery network. By dealing with two trillion requests daily for content through its network, the company says it is well positioned to judge speeds and access across various countries.

As usual, Canada didn’t fare too well in the latest numbers, which are for the third quarter of 2012. On the wired side, Canada averaged a download connection speed of 6.7 megabits per second, or good enough to tie with two others for 10th spot out of 54 countries. Before anyone gets to bragging about how that’s not such a bad showing, it’s worth noting that the report includes many countries in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, where internet access is still pretty dreadful.

Canada fared worse in peak connection speeds, where its 27.2 megabits per second was enough to score 16th. Same goes for the percentage of internet subscribers that are on what Akamai calls “high broadband” plans, or those with speeds above 10 Mbps. Only 12 per cent of Canadians had such connections, which places the country 11th in the rankings and slightly above the global average of 11 per cent. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on February 7, 2013 in internet, mobile


Why offering lots of apps does matter

Apps1It’s a big week for BlackBerry fans as the new Z10 finally arrives in Canada on Tuesday (it launched in the UK last week and is coming to the United States next month). I did a quick and dirty review for CBC last week, with a loooong, in-depth review hitting Canadian Business some time on Monday. (It’s up here.)

Overall, I quite like the new phone. I’ve been using it for much of the past week and have become fond of some of its features, notably the swipe-heavy Flow interface. I’ve also warmed up a bit to the predictive text typing, although I’m still finding it slows me down half the time.

One thing I’m not liking, however, is BlackBerry’s lack of apps. I detailed the 29 apps I use regularly in my in-depth review; fewer than a third of them are available for the Z10. I consider some, such as 680 News (for traffic) and Cineplex for buying movie tickets - not to mention Google Maps - to be mission critical. BlackBerry’s selection is sure to improve over time, but by not having them now, I wouldn’t consider switching yet. Many users will be in the same boat. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on February 4, 2013 in apple, Google, microsoft, mobile, RIM


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