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Rogers, Telus and Bell Appear in Definition of ‘Oligopoly’ on Financial Website

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Canadians have long known their wireless market is dominated by three companies: Rogers, Telus and Bell. This trio is known as the ‘Big 3’, as they control nearly 90 per cent of the wireless market in Canada.

Now, according to a post by a user on Reddit, it was discovered the financial website Investopedia, has given the example of Rogers, Telus and Bell in its definition of ‘oligopoly’. The Reddit post has been voted up over 1300 times, making it one of the rising submissions on the social media site.

Here is the text of how Investopedia notes the ‘Big 3’ in its “Breaking Down ‘Oligopoly” section:

An example of an oligopoly is the wireless service industry in Canada, in which three companies – Rogers Communications Inc (RCI), BCE Inc (BCE) subsidiary Bell and Telus Corp (TU) – control approximately 90% of the market. Canadians are conscious of this oligopolistic market structure and often lump the three together as “Robelus,” as though they were indistinguishable. In fact, they are often indistinguishable in price: in early 2014 all three companies raised the price for smartphone plans to $80 in most markets, more or less in tandem.

Rogers telus bell oligopoly

Another Reddit user posted a screenshot showing the disparity in wireless pricing across Canada, showing how 10GB of data costs 50% less in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, due to regional completion in the latter provinces. The Reddit user titled his caption “WTF Bell, Telus and Rogers.”

Rogers telus bell pricing

For customers in Quebec, they’re paying 31% less compared to other provinces due to regional competition from Videotron.

Despite market domination by the ‘Big 3’, we could see the emergence of a fourth player, as Shaw’s Freedom Mobile aims to take on incumbents by gaining 25% marketshare in the cities they operate, following a model like Quebecor’s Videotron.

When Freedom Mobile starts selling the iPhone, that is when momentum should swing their way, according to analysts. Apple’s latest iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and upcoming iPhone X have updated modems which supports Freedom Mobile’s LTE Band 66, so more competition is on the horizon.

What do you think? Do Rogers, Telus and Bell define an oligopoly?

[via Huffington Post]

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  • Bill___A

    So how are you going to do it? Are we going to have two sets of towers across the country? Three sets? Four sets? One set? And what would happen if one of the “major providers” had prices half as much as the other two? People would flock to them, overload the network, and then it wouldn’t work very well. I see constantly these complaints about everything and constantly…solutions that make no sense. Let’s see a proposal on how it is supposed to be done, how it is supposed to be priced, and how high profits are supposed to be. Build too many networks, that is overkill on the capex and there is only so much spectrum. Build too few and it is overloaded. Sell it too cheaply and it becomes more scarce…

  • awkpain

    The point is more that often Bell, Rogers, and Telus all release new price plans at exactly the same time. The changes are often identical as well. The problem is that the new price plans are released on the same day so it’s obvious it’s not a reaction. How did the others know? Either there’s communication or a very effective spy network across the board.

    Also… in Canada in order to avoid cell towers absolutely everywhere if a carrier puts up a tower they must then allow the others to use it. Four sets of cell towers would only happen if all four carriers were using completely different spectrums… which they aren’t.

  • Chrome262

    Even if it wasn’t so, I live in Toronto, really doesn’t matter to me if the top of the giant buildings had one or 100 towers on them.

  • Chrome262

    So wait, other countries, hell, other provinces that actually have competition are awash in cell towers? Cell towers are huge, you can have like 10 companies on one. And the other markets seem to be doing just fine with figure out their pricing structure with the added competition.

  • awkpain

    Do you realize we pay some of the highest cell phone plan rates in the world? It has nothing to do with the towers. It’s greed plain and simple.

    Look at provinces that have competition… like SK. Saskatchewan has the lowest cell phone plans in Canada. Does that tell you anything?

  • Chrome262

    I agree with you, i meant to put he replay to the first guy, he seemed like a week argument to continue with the ogligopoly

  • FragilityG4

    Look at Saskatchewan, Manitoba (although I think Bell bought MTS) and Quebec. All have regional carriers and far lower prices than the balance of the country.

  • Bill___A

    Yeah they probably find out from websites like this in advance. I am not saying what we have is perfect, but we have better service than much of the USA and better service than significant parts of Scotland.

  • Bill___A

    That I can live somewhere that has the lowest cell phone rates but calls 10 megabit DSL”Ultra high speed”?

  • Bill___A

    Other countries have less land mass and 60 to 100 million people…or more.

  • Widohmaker

    In that case prices in Toronto should be the lowest in the country.

  • awkpain

    The two are not related. DSL is in no way related to the price of cell phones or the oligopoly. It’s like saying you’d love to live in a time when top hats were popular… which I have to admit would be awesome.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Don’t forget that the vast majority of the land mass of Canada does NOT have cellphone coverage. The ratio of towers to population is similar to that of other countries.

  • mcfilmmakers

    No, they don’t because by the time sites like this know, the decisions were already made. Also, this has been happening lonnbefore the internet

  • mcfilmmakers

    Yes it does. They are the same oligopoly that exists in internet and cable services, which present conflict of interest issues as well

  • awkpain

    I see, you are referring to ISPs not DSL. Rogers, Bell, and Telus do also offer internet. Rogers does not offer DSL and I think both Telus and Bell are trying to phase it out in major centers moving to fiber optics. Shaw, who also do not offer DSL, have also fairly recently entered the cellphone industry with Freedom Mobile but coverage is currently limited.

  • mcfilmmakers

    DSL requires an ISP…

  • awkpain

    You miss my point. DSL requires an ISP but as a category does not include all ISPs. Note there is a deleted comment that referred to DSL specifically.

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