CWTA Says Canada’s Wireless Market is More Competitive Than You Think

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Earlier this month, Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, released 10 reasons why he believes the Canadian wireless market is “woefully uncompetitive.”

We’ve seen responses to this report by TELUS and now the CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), Bernard Lord, has responded to all 10 reasons in Geist’s original article, posted over at

Contrary to Prof. Geist’s assertions of an uncompetitive marketplace, Canada has one of the least concentrated markets in the OECD. We are also one of only six OECD countries with more than four wireless service providers. On average, the top two service providers in OECD countries control almost 72% of subscribers, however Canada’s top two carriers only serve just over 62% of Canadian subscribers.

Canadians have many choices for wireless services with more than two dozen wireless service providers, including national carriers, discount brands, urban-centric providers, strong regional players and high profile resellers. In this article I will respond to each of the ten reasons why Prof. Geist fails to see that the Canadian wireless market is competitive.

As for a snippet, below is Lord’s response to three year contracts:

6. Three-year contracts

Prof. Geist argues that Scotia Capital is wrong when they say that Canada’s three-year contracts are correlated with high smart phone adoption. I believe Scotia’s point is that longer contracts mean a lower upfront cost which allows more customers to enjoy the benefits of smartphones. I will not take sides on this one. The important thing is that in Canada, unlike in other countries, in-market wireless plans allow customers to cancel their contract at any time merely by paying the unamortized balance on your smartphone subsidy and get your phone unlocked. So in Canada, customers can really pick their own contract length.

The CWTA represents the wireless industry in Canada, so we’re not surprised they would side with an opinion the wireless market is competitive, opposed to wireless critics such as Professor Geist. The latest figures on the CWTA website note the wireless industry brings a total $43 billion in economic activity and adds 261,000 jobs to the Canadian economy.

What do you think of the state of the Canadian wireless industry and Lord’s responses to Geist?

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