Thursday, March 22, 2007


Wireless pricing heats up

TELUSMark Evans' post yesterday had me humming 'Moving on up' all morning. You'll have to read his post to understand why.

I'm going to disagree with one of the points he led with:
In Canada, the major wireless carriers don’t compete on price
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'd like to see even lower prices, but I don't buy the statement that there isn't price competition.

Rate plans and even system access fees are quite different between the carriers and service providers. Some say that the marketplace can be quite confusing because of the variety of plans. Let's look at some of the most recent activity - still in the wake of the introduction of WNP.

I'll start with TELUS because, of the big three, TELUS is the one carrier actively promoting portability in their print, TV and internet ads. TELUS has a 'Double your minutes' plan available right now, which cuts prices per peak minute in half. Bell has a promotion that allows people to bundle unlimited local calling to other Bell phones. Rogers has its variations on that theme, including long distance to Rogers phones among other specials. Virgin is running a buy one month, get one free promotion to go with their usual no contract plans.

Each service provider has a variety of plans that offer customers a myriad of options to optimize their costs.

Buying wireless service isn't as simple as looking at a price per minute posted at your local wireless kiosk. It isn't as though we are buying a litre of gasoline. Mind you, the Canadian gasoline industry hasn't done much better convincing average Canadians that their market is fiercely competitive, so I'm not crazy about the benefits of a single price per minute boldly advertised in storefronts. And I sure don't want to see regulations to require that kind of signage.

I like to think that the availability of all these rate plans is a good thing. Let people pick between family plans, student plans, corporate affinity plans, etc. Choice is a good thing. Let me decide whether I want to lock-in for a few years in exchange for a discounted phone? Or maybe I want the flexibility to pay as I go while I have visiting relatives for the summer. Shop around. There is a difference and you may have to work to find the best fit for your own circumstances.

Aren't those signs of price competition?

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That's why they're called Pricing Plans, not "Lifestyle" Plans

Can't agree with you more Mark. I think the Wireless carriers recognize (or is that forced to recognize?) that the public wants to see a number of alternatives because they're looking for a way to keep cutting their costs.

Each time I've seen a push to reduce the number of plans out in the market, soon enough there's a new round of pricing plans with something free or reduced to attract customers.
With over 1200 pricing wireless 'plans' in the Canadian marketplace, consumers and particularly businesses have to do their homework to constantly get the best deals.

We hope the wireless providers start to simplify their programs in addition to reducing pricing programs and perhaps this will encourage more Canadians to adopt wireless services.
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