So the big three telecommunication companies think it’s unfair for Ottawa not to protect them from a possible Verizon arrival in Canada? Or, more specifically, they want Industry Canada to close loopholes so that if Verizon does decide to set up shop here, the (competitive) playing field will be level. These companies have made direct appeals to Ottawa and have even gone as far as placing full-page advertisements in the media and commercials on TV to pitch their point of view and persuade Canadians that it would not be in their best interests for the government to do otherwise.
While this all sounds fine and dandy, the facts say otherwise. It turns out that “..Canadian policies are strikingly similar to those found in many other countries that have sought to encourage greater competition..” according to Dr. Michael Geist – Internet and e-commerce law professor – in a Toronto Star article, August 02, 2013. And, although no two jurisdiction’s policies are identical and the threat of a large cross-border competitor is perhaps unique, on August 9, in a final response to the incumbents’ lobbying, the Prime Minister stated there would be no change to Canada’s current competitive policy. With all appeal avenues now apparently exhausted, it seems to us the incumbents should now direct their efforts to anticipating and countering Verizon’s likely competitive strategies.
For example, as we have pointed out previously, it is quite possible that Verizon would offer North America-wide unlimited voice and data plans. This would be a welcome change from the myriad of (often misunderstood) roaming packages currently available to customers on both sides of the border. While none of the three Canadian incumbents operates in the U.S., they each have long standing relationships with their American counterparts and could do a lot more to satisfy the needs of businesspeople and snowbirds, for instance. And, while it’s all very well to trumpet their (recently) improved data roaming plans in the U.S., they would do well to remember that people actually still use their phones to make voice calls!
And finally, despite the chronic complainers, we believe most subscribers would prefer to avoid the hassle of switching service providers unless there is a compelling reason for them to do so. That is – and always has been – one of the incumbents’ greatest competitive advantages.