Andrew Clunis

Trending towards more awesome.

A Reply to Marc Garneau's Post About Telecom Competition

Marc Garneau just made an encouraging post about freeing telecom markets in Canada. Here’s the comment I left for him:

Hi Marc,

I whoteheartedly agree that free human action in markets is the best thing for our ailing telecommunications sector. CRTC can declare regulation mandating “fair” contracts all day, but in the end government regulation is can only hamper innovation and be wielded as a tool by monopolistic incumbents to prevent competition. No matter how well-meaning, large-scope government control restricts individuals’ ability to solve problems and provides a juicy target for those who want to capture value rather than create it (like our incumbent telecom carriers).

Tony Clement’s decision to override (as Industry Minister) the CRTC and permit the mostly foreign-funded WIND/Globalive Wireless (and DAVE/Moblicity, as well) to purchase spectrum access in Canada at auction has already given us a taste of what competition in freer markets can do. Of course, specific access granted to one company is still not a great example of a free market, but it was still a step in the right direction. WIND is awesome: it has simpler contract agreements, simpler amortized-over-contract phone financing, excellent data plans, and decent customer service. As a younger carrier, it has less overland penetration, but that will steadily improve as they earn enough profit to justify expanding their network.

It is worth noting that the CEP union is lobbying against freeing of telecom markets (alongside Bell, Rogers, and Telus), as political special interest group that stands to continue benefiting from government control of the telecom industry. Watch out for these guys and their misleadingly named “Own it!” campaign.

PS. However, I would like to make one remark about your other comment stating support for government regulation of broadcaster ownership in order to attain Canadian content production for cultural objectives”. I suggest that it is more effective for individual Canadians to decide which sort of content they value (and gaining access to their valued content grows ever easier, entirely thanks to technological improvements that markets deliver). Lots of us value home-grown Canadian talent and content, but we shouldn’t impose our choices on other Canadians.