Mobile Web Canada should be a sector of the economy with massive potential. The Federal Government may proudly proclaim, “We’ve Gone Mobile!” Unfortunately it’s unlikely that any of the citizenry can afford to follow them.
As today’s Gazette headline points out: Prices Too High – Lack of competition in Canada threatens mobile Internet. The article by Michael Geist points out that Even Third World and Eastern European countries are more advanced than we are. Michael Geist holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa so he’s someone we all should be listening to.
As he points out, if the Apple iPhone was introduced in Canada, the rates would be prohibitive. Rogers ? Canada?s sole GSM provider and therefore the only telecom company currently equipped to offer the iPhone ? offers a starter data plan that provides 1.5 megabytes of data per month for $15 (each additional MB is $21). Since that is not even enough data to download a single high-resolution photograph, most consumers presumably choose more. The company?s biggest data plan provides 500 MB, yet costs $210 per month, far beyond the reach of most consumers. Compare that with the rates charged in other countries as shown in a table from the article. This pricing is comparable to plans found with Bell and Telus and destroys our international competitiveness.
This message is not new. Back in April ThomasPurves.com had a striking illustration of the cost differences.
It would seem unlikely that this is the most sensible pricing policy for the telecom companies to reap the richest rewards. More importantly it shuts down this sector as an economic opportunity for Canada. It is no surprise that Alec Saunders finds that Really cool mobile data applications pop up all the time in Europe, the US, and Asia, yet Canadians are regrettably absent.
Contrast this with what is happening in the US. Google declares its commitment to open broadband platforms.
So today, we’re putting consumers’ interests first, and putting our money where our principles are — to the tune of $4.6 billion. Let me explain.
In the U.S., wireless spectrum for mobile phones and data is controlled by a small group of companies, leaving consumers with very few service providers from which to choose. With that in mind, last week, as the federal government prepares for what is arguably its most significant auction of wireless spectrum in history, we urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt rules to make sure that regardless of who wins the spectrum at auction, consumers’ interests are the top priority.
It’s not exactly the same theme but involves similar players and similar missed opportunities for consumers.
Since it is in all our interests to have vibrant Mobile Web opportunities in Canada, perhaps Google could put a little effort in here too.