Report: Canadian Consumers Not Seeing Benefits From Wireless Industry Competition

In a new report this week, the Canadian Press indicates that Canadians feel they are paying too much and have too few choices when it comes to mobile phone, Internet, cable, and satellite service.

The information comes by way of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, a group that provides legal and research services on behalf of consumer interests, including those involving the provision of important public services.

In regards to Canadian mobile, Internet, and television services, Michael Janigan of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre says that “in most services, we lag international models in relation to price and choice.”

Canadian consumers are reportedly still frustrated with the Canadian wireless landscape, even though the industry has been deregulated and recently restructured to allow more competition with the new wireless entrants, such as WIND Mobile and Mobilicity.

Janigan further indicates that, among wireless being a cash cow for the industry, it has been “enormously” profitable for Rogers, Bell, and Telus, which control the majority of the market.

All kinds of benefits were promised to consumers in terms of lower prices and better deals on packages. None of that came to pass.

Janigan’s report also details that the average monthly cellphone cost in Canada, which includes voice, text and data service, is approximately $67.50. This amount is a large price to pay when compared with similar services in the USA for $59.99 and $32.40 in the United Kingdom.

Of course, the wireless carriers disagree with this report, as Telus spokesman Shawn Hall calls the report “self-serving mythology,”

The fact is that urban Canadians enjoy the benefits of one of the most competitive telecommunications industries in the world. Canadians have access to a dozen or more options for their wireless, home phone and Internet services, while rural Canadians are not far behind that.

However, there is some accuracy to Hall’s comments, as recent offerings from Telus, Bell and Rogers have included various “unlimited” options. The new wireless entrants have also reduced prices marginally in some areas, while keeping prices the same but increasing available features in other areas.

While the Public Interest Advocacy Centre does not specifically recommend more regulations for the Canadian telecom industry, the group does see benefits in “establishing fines and a licensing system for all Canadian carriers with enforceable codes of conduct.”

Janigan further indicates that “…Across the range of telecommunications services, whether it’s Internet, wireless, wire line or cable, there’s a similar problem. There are…deficits in the competition that exists in that industry, which are not remedied by universal rules or price ceilings. Despite new wireless companies, the Canadian industry still suffers from concentration.”

Janigan’s 218-page report is called “Waiting for the Dream, the Consumer brief for Telecom Reform 2010.” The report will be given to the federal government and a copy will also reportedly be given to the CRTC.

On the surface, this seems like the classic consumer versus telecom industry that we have all been apart of for many, many years. So what do you think of Janigan’s report?

[Canadian Press]