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Industry Minister Moore: Big 3 Ad Campaigns Haven’t Been Successful [Interview]

Rogers, TELUS and Bell have recently waged a public relations war against the Federal government, claiming upcoming wireless spectrum rules are unfair and foreign competition from Verizon will cause Canadian job losses.

Now, it appears the Harper government is fighting back to reiterate its message of creating more competition for wireless markets. Industry Minister James Moore this morning has embarked on a cross-country speaking tour starting in Vancouver to broadcast and reiterate Ottawa’s plans.

James Moore

In a telephone interview with iPhoneinCanada, Mr. Moore called to discuss how he plans to continue to serve the best interests of Canadians and increase wireless competition.

Ottawa Embarks on Cross-Country Tour to Clarify Wireless Debate

We asked Moore why he called and he explained he’s reaching out as “there’s a missing aspect of the debate, which is somebody explaining to everyday Canadians that the everyday policies we’ve put in place are about serving the best interest of Canadians, not about playing favourites for one company or another.”

Moore continued to add “often media outlets, newspapers and telcos companies within the system are dominating the debate by explaining what’s good and what’s bad, but all through the veil of what’s in the interest of their companies. We want to make sure that Canadians understand that our policy is in the best interest of them, but of course we want Canadian companies to do well.”

Big Three Disagreed with Spectrum Rules only after Verizon Made Noise

We brought up the recent story about Verizon possibly delaying their bid for WIND Mobile and Mobilicity and asked if that changes anything. Moore responded by saying “we’re not going to change our policy” and the government will continue to move forward.” He stated the 700 MHz spectrum will be moving forward with deposits coming September 17 and the auction taking place in January.

Moore says a great deal of consultation was made regarding its wireless policies with Rogers, TELUS and Bell and all companies were content with Ottawa’s policies, which “were not made overnight.” That was until around late May when Verizon “made their noise” and the Big Three only protested when “somebody very large threatened their structure.”

When pressed on Verizon and what will happen if the company decides against setting up in Canada, Moore said “regardless of the outcome, whether Verizon does or doesn’t come, Canadians will be well served by our policy.”

As for our fourth wireless option if Verizon does not come? Moore points to ongoing regulation of the industry and refers to “healthy” regional competition in various parts of the country (Quebec and Manitoba come to mind) but says to wait for the outcome of the spectrum auction to see what happens.

Ongoing ads by Rogers, TELUS and Bell

We asked about the ongoing ads the country has been bombarded with by the Big Three on radio, print and on the web. What are Canadians to believe? Moore went on to say Canadians know “instinctively” more choice and competition is good:

“People just need to realize these companies that are behind the ad campaigns, they’re not charities, they’re not crown corporations, they’re presenting an argument that benefits them–and that’s fine. Their job is to increase the foothold of their companies to represent the interests of their shareholders to increase their profits and that’s fine. We have a bigger and broader interest as a government to serve the interests of Canadians, and I think Canadians know that. I don’t think the campaign has been terribly successful, I have to say.”

Moore refers to an earlier interview he gave with the Globe where he says Ottawa during the 1980s most likely was told by domestic car companies Ford, GM and Chrysler were perfectly fine and there would be no need for imports such as Honda, Toyota, BMW or foreign cars in Canada. He says the same goes for now when it comes to wireless competition, as Canadians know more choice is a good thing.

Moore Clarifies his experience to BCE Board Member Anthony Fell

We brought up the letter by Bell Canada Board Member Anthony Fell questioning the Minister’s reported one month of experience with the telecom policy portfolio. Moore gave a slight chuckle and said “it’s not true” and reiterated his Ministerial resume, specifically his past experience being lobbied by telcos and broadcast companies over the Bell-Astral deals, saying “he knows these files very, very well.”

How are Canadians Supposed to get Lower Cellphone Bills? 

The issue of recent monthly voice and data plan changes over to two years by our carriers was brought up the Minister. We noted even though two-year terms are the norm, why do so many Canadians feel the prices have just been increased to compensate for the change?

The Minister was quick to reiterate that was for the “CRTC to assess” and see how the market reacts to it over time and for CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais to oversee. The increase of prices by incumbents, according to Moore, speaks to Ottawa’s view we need to have “more competition and choice in the Canadian marketplace.”

What Cellphone are you using?

As the interview ended I posed a question out to the iPhoneinCanada nation on Twitter about what they would ask Minister Moore. One question was what cellphone he was using which he responded “I have a BlackBerry on Bell and an iPhone on Rogers,” as having two devices helps with traveling and using various networks.

It’s clear from speaking with Minister Moore today, Ottawa is definitely firing back against incumbents with their own PR campaign to media outlets. As for how effective it will be, only time will tell. One thing is certain, which we agree with: more wireless competition is good for Canadian consumers.

What do you think about Ottawa’s cross-country plan to reiterate its message?

 

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • FragilityG4

    I’d be more whiling to listen to The Stupid 3 if they told the truth … ‘Its not fair to our shareholders and our profits’ … Stop with the ‘Fair for Canadians’ crap. No one is buying this ruse. If you cared about Canadians than none of us would care about Verizon coming.

  • Michael Moniz

    You know it’s bad when centre and left leaning Canadians hate you(the telcos) more than they hate the Conservative government!

  • PRSHAN

    Bell, Roger’s & Telus have to realize. They screwed up big. How many
    customers have they screwed over with there poor service, poor cellular
    plans and hidden charges. These 3 all claim they provide excellent
    service. Come on. Don’t you think Verizon knows this? They did there
    homework big time. A fortune 500 company is not going to jump into
    another country without knowing what the market is like. The Industry
    Minister like the rest of us. Is getting tired of being screwed over and
    it’s time for something new. All I have to say is. Be careful what you
    say Big 3. CRTC & the Industry Minister hold all the ace’s

  • djepsilon

    I’m just so happy that the government is actually doing something. Sometimes it can be difficult to see the government make REAL change a lot of the time (maybe because they usually touch issues that don’t directly affect me? Dunno). Anyways, it feels like something is going to have to give in the future and I really hope it is for the best.

  • Al

    First… Truly outstanding interview article Gary. Thank you.

    Second… This is ENTIRELY because I wrote the Prime Minister about this issue with the big 3, and they said they appreciated and made note of my comments, and forwarded the e-mail on to Moore, because they thought he would be very interested as well. Sooooo… your welcome :-?

  • Al

    On a more serious note (and sort of off topic)…

    Even though Verizon won’t be that competitive (barely at all), as soon as it looks like they (or someone) will enter the market as a major carrier, the big 3 will adjust their plans (such as offer unlimited, unrestricted long distance) in an effort to be just as competitive BEFORE the new player (presumably Verizon) is fully in place. So we win – to some extent (like I said, Verizon ain’t cheap – so there won’t be any internationally competitive pricing). But it is quite possible that the big 3 will get burned on US/CDN roaming and US/CDN long distance, should Verizon wish to include that as part of their plans (at the same price).

    The big 3 would then have to negotiate with the lesser carriers in the states for the same sort of mutual accommodation (we won’t charge your customers if you don’t charge ours), but since the other carriers have far less coverage, Verizon will still have the upper hand.

    I guess what I’m saying is, it’s too little too late for the big 3. They are going to lose no matter what they do (unless they start offering something like European pricing). And this is how bringing in Verizon is such a good idea. It’s going to force the big 3 to do something dramatic. It “could” eventually end up in a downward spiral in pricing. One can only hope.
    This could get interesting.

  • http://www.iphoneincanada.ca/ Gary

    Thank you, Al. THANK YOU! :)

  • Chrome262

    I agree great interview, and the comment section on your blog isn’t full of trolls so double win lol. Well mostly, not sure about that Al dude lol

  • Chrome262

    And you know what is really weird, I think that this whole thing is actually helping the Conservatives. if lower prices do happen, and its near an elections, who knows.

  • http://www.iphoneincanada.ca/ Gary

    Thanks. Don’t hate on Al, he’s watching you ;)

  • http://www.iphoneincanada.ca/ Gary

    If there was an election right now, this would be huge to sway voters. Vote for us–we’ll lower your cellphone bill. Everybody has had some sort of negative experience with incumbents, somehow.

  • Chrome262

    And the funny thing is that Canadians are pretty tolerant, sometimes too tolerant because its gotten this bad, so to have so many people actually hate ( and I do mean hate) companies speaks to the level of poor customer service and blatant short sighted greed on their part. Maybe this is what the big3 are really afraid of, if a real alternative comes here, that we will all run as fast as we can to them, because even if its stinks, at least we screwed them over.

  • Chrome262

    Yeah he sees me in my Tinfoil hat on the couch, I think he is using Prism (funny thing is I am watching Fringe on NetFlix)

  • Chrome262

    I know, its just shocking how many horror stories our out there. I only have high bills with them, haven’t (knock on wood) have had to deal with the reps much. Well Bell but I dumped them years ago, Fido and Tellus have been ok, in fact pretty good. And yes Rogers for internet but I don’t speak to them lol. I am telling you the Big 3 are like the Soviets during the cold war, its and easy win if you have them as your villain.

  • Matt

    Exactly! I would say that the a lot of my beliefs would not line up with the Conservative Government’s because I’m quite a progressive guy but even I had to email the PM and and Industry Minister to thank them for not giving in to the wireless cartel in this country. They seem to actually be looking out for Canadians when it comes to telecom.

  • MapleHoney

    This is your assumption which might be true or not.

    This is what I think. Verizon is a company and will look after its own shareholders which are in the US. Like you said, Verizon is not going to throw out cheap plans like Wind or Mobilicity. If Verizon does come in, we will have Big 4 instead of Big 3. What we see nowadays will be not much different in the future. We may see a price cut for long distance and roaming within Canada and US but that’s about it. Not everyone needs long distance and roaming in the first place. Yes. We will have one more choice to choose from but the price point will be at the high end just like now.

    Also, lots of small businesses depend on wireless carriers. This is a huge change for Canadian industries as a whole. We still don’t know if it is a good change or not for a US company to dominate our Canadian wireless sector. Where will most of the profit going for Verizon?

    To me, having small carriers like Wind and Mobilicity are better for consumers. Not everyone needs or can afford to drive Mercedes and BMW. Wind and Mobilicity are like Honda and Toyota. Verizon is definitely not a KIA.

    PS: This Mr. Moore’s picture made me feel uncomfortable. That smile on his face. LOL.

  • Al

    Well – c’mon… he’s a politician. They ALL make ME feel uncomfortable.
    I was definitely in full speculation mode. But there was some logic behind it. Simply put, Verizon will have the upper hand in features (just a bit). The big 3 will have no choice but to do something to compensate. That MAY mean they will begin to lower prices a tad.

  • Al

    I ain’t no troll. I’s just ornery.

  • MapleHoney

    LOL. He just looks creepy to me on this picture.

    I would assume the low price war will only last very short period of time. As we can all see from history, low price tactic doesn’t work well in Canada. Since Verizon has clear advantage on cross border roaming, there’s no point for Verizon to lower price to attract subscribers. Once Verizon has enough subscribers to maintain profit, then we will be back to where we are today.

    The worst thing that can happen to Canadians is Verizon backing out AFTER they entered the market just looking for a quick profit. Think about it. Our government is giving them all the freebie that they want at the moment. Buy low and sell high. That might be the reason why Verizon is not interested on buying Wind and Mobilicity.

  • 1His_Nibs1

    Al, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this but unlimited long distance is pretty standard nowadays. I think (but I’m unsure) once the big 3 saw apps like Viber, Skype & Fongo available to circumvent their outrageous long distance rates (not to mention people who jb their phones and installed tweaks like 3G Unrestrictor) the big 3 saw the writing on the wall and decided to add it into their plan/s & just merged the add-on price into the total cost instead of an add-on.

  • Al

    I’ve said in the past that the big 3 are gradually moving towards unlimited/unrestricted LD, but with one possible exception, it isn’t here yet. That one exception *MAY* be Telus, as just last night I thought I saw them advertise unlimited LD (although it could have just been a My10, I don’t know).
    I don’t think things like Skype bother them very much. And JB phones are not a concern as only a very tiny percentage of people bother with that.
    But if Verizon comes in, they will most likely provide unlimited/unrestricted LD.

  • 1His_Nibs1

    I hate to burst your bubble but I’ve had unlimited LD or as Fido calls it Canada wide for almost a year now. Or are you referring to North America wide LD?

  • Al

    I think you’re misunderstanding. Verizon will NOT get into a price war. The big 3 will simply be forced to lower their prices a bit in order to compensate for Verizon’s slight advantage. And they will remain lower (or they will find something else to offer of value that Verizon doesn’t offer), otherwise the big 3 will likely be forced to exit the wireless market. The big 3 must do this in order to be, AND REMAIN, competitive in some form. They have no choice. Verizon need not do anything.

  • Al

    I stand corrected. Sort-of.
    I’m talking the big 3 brands. I realize Fido is owned by Rogers, but they don’t dominate, so there must be a reason… meaning that a package containing unlimited LD apparently has less value to most people than a Rogers plan, for some reason (I recall someone posted here a few days ago about the negative aspects of Fido – I’m no expert on it though). In other words, it appears like it’s still not a primary service, so it’s not in the same league.

  • 1His_Nibs1

    Ever heard of Google? http://www.rogers.com/web/Rogers.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=WLRS_Plans
    Sorry to burst your bubble AGAIN BUT all 3 offer it in some form.

  • 1His_Nibs1

    My comments keep getting “moderated”. C’mon Gary what the f is up with that? I posted a link to Roger’s individual plans and they offer LD Al but I can’t prove you’re wrong because the moderators on here won’t allow the link. Bell offers it as well as does Telus. Remember the “cartel” moves in unison so if one does it they all eventually will. I guess using Google is too much effort? Once again Al your bubble has been burst and you stand corrected!

  • http://www.iphoneincanada.ca/ Gary

    Disqus settings are in place to hold comments with links in moderation, to prevent spam. Relax homie

  • nosnoop

    I beg to differ – Verizon HAS TO get into a price war in order to gain market share. In US, they have the largest network to boast about, and they are charging a premium. In Canada, they would have the smallest network. The only way to sway people to switch carrier is to have lower or more attractive price. Verizon won’t be satisfied with Wind/Mobilicity subscriber numbers.

  • Al

    ok, ok – you got me. Rogers’ (and Bell’s) brand new 2 year pricing that was just released a week ago does appear to include some plans with unlimited calling, presumably without restrictions.

  • Al

    No. Absolutely not.
    Their pricing is VERY similar (at least 2 my own current plan). BUT, they can offer international long distance and roaming as part of their regular price plans. Should they chose to do that, then they have no need to lower their price to attract customers, since they have more to offer for essentially the same price. Plus, Americans would be furious if they did lower their prices here.

  • MapleHoney

    Can Gary change the picture or don’t put this on top list? I don’t want to see this guy’s face everytime I come to your blog. LOL.