The arrival of more competition in Canada’s cell phone industry should benefit consumers but users are waiting to see whether new suppliers will mean lower prices .
For example WIND mobile launched service in Ottawa in late March, after already being available in Toronto, Edmonton, and Calgary.
It’s one of the first independent wireless companies trying to take away market share from the industry giants – Telus, Bell, and Rogers.
According to reports, WIND’s network will cover Ottawa within the Greenbelt, and will soon cover all of suburban Kanata, Orleans, and Gatineau.
“Today we have brought real wireless choice to the people of Ottawa!” proclaimed Anthony Lacavera, chairman of Globalive and WIND Mobile in a press release. “There has never been a better time, or better reason for Canadians to switch their wireless provider.”
HOW MUCH WILL CONSUMERS BENEFIT?
According to Statistics Canada, Canadians are now spending more on cell phone plans and usage than on landlines, making it one of the richest industries in the country.
It is a sector that has been dominated by the three major players but WIND hopes to shake that up offering service plans as low as $15 a month.
“Canadians were very clear when they told us what they wanted when it comes to wireless – they want value, honesty, and simplicity” said Kevin Campbell, the CEO of Wind Mobile.
Campbell continues by saying that WIND could offer savings of 40 to 60 per cent compared to what is being offered by Rogers, Bell, and Telus.
The three industry giants are starting to take notice though, responding with more aggressive marketing campaigns using their “discount” phone carriers: Koodo, Fido, and Solo respectively.
If that wasn’t enough, Canadians are about to get the benefit of even more competition, as other carriers Mobilicity, Public Mobile, DAVE Mobile, and Videotron are getting ready for launch in 2010.
WAITING FOR CHEAPER PLANS
It has never been a better time to be a consumer, as with increased competition comes decreased prices on plans and services for mobile users.
These new carriers are focusing on a specific demographic and WIND mobile has already made headway to try to capitalize on this group who has an increasing buying power.
WIND is not using traditional means to sell its product either. In Ottawa it has set up kiosks in two Blockbuster video stores and is looking to add more locations in Future Shop and Best Buy outlets. This is a different tactic than the other carriers, who have stand-alone stores in malls.
In other markets like Toronto, WIND has its own flagship store, as well as five other kiosks in malls across the city. Depending on the success of WIND in the nation’s capital, this may be something that Ottawa cell-phone users see next.
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for WIND though.
In late 2009 the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruled that WIND’s main financial backer, Egypt’s Orascom had too much influence over the company, and so it did not qualify as “Canadian.”
CANADIAN IN CONSERVATIVE EYES
The federal government then stepped in and overruled the CRTC.
Tony Clement, the Minister of Industry, concluded that Globalive is a Canadian company that meets Canadian ownership and control requirements under the Telecommunications act, a decision that was well-received by Lacavera.
“We thank the Government of Canada for a decision that will serve the best interests of Canadian consumers,” he said in a statement.
There has also been questions about Blockbuster, WIND’s official retail partner. Blockbuster is going through a troubled economic situation and nearing bankruptcy. Lacavera said he hopes that the video chain will pull through, but is prepared for the worst, nonetheless.
“We’ve got a lot of distribution methods in front of us and we’re assessing them,” he said in an interview with the CBC. “We could have time to find alternate scenarios.”
For now, the rest of 2010 will remain interesting for not only the new carriers like WIND, DAVE, and Public Mobile, but the consumers as well.