Stop the Oligopoly!

Stop the Oligopoly!

By: Elean Olguin

Rogers.pngHow many times have you faced the dilemma of not knowing which cellphone provider to choose from? I know it is a tedious process because when it comes to cell phone providers in Montreal, we as consumers are limited to very narrow options to choose from: Rogers, Bell, Telus, Solo, Videotron, Public Mobile, Koodo, Chatr, etc. At this point I am sure that I have already raised a lot of eyebrows since I just listed eight providers. However, the truth is that Fido and Chatr belong to Rogers, Solo and Virgin Mobile to Bell, Koodo to Telus, and Public Mobile is partnered with both Bell and Telus. As the Seabord Group- a telecommunications and technology consulting firm- has stated "The number of players doesn't mean anything; it is the type of players with their particular interests which dictates the shape and the future of the mobile market" (TechVibes). Based on personal experience and the constant emergence of customer complains on the Internet, I believe it is time for the Canadian government to decrease the current cap structure even further to allow other companies to enter the market in order to improve wireless services and offer better prices to the Canadian public.

Throughout the years and thanks to technological advancements, companies like the big three (Rogers, Bell and Telus) have benefited from offering the public overpriced plans and extra monthly fees on commodities; unlike American companies like Sprint and T-Mobile, for example, which offer affordable unlimited plans. Despite the recent change in policies to allow more foreign investment into the Canadian Market, Anthony Lacavera, chairman and CEO of Wind Mobile -a recent start-up company- said "he was pleased by the decision to lift the foreign ownership limits, but said that the cap system handicaps the smaller companies because there isn't enough of the valuable 700 MHz spectrum available." (


I have fought several times on the phone with Rogers over different inquiries and poor phone service. The latest one happened two months ago when Rogers contacted me to offer a free blackberry in order to fix my drop calls problem. Upon receipt of my new phone, I was told by a representative that if I wanted to have drop-free calls I would have to switch my current plan to a plan they found more suitable for me.   Since their plan and their complementary phone did not fix the problem, when I contacted them for support, I spent hours being transferred to five different customer service representatives and ultimately was left with the following two options: to cancel my contract and pay the full cancellation fee, or to accept what they call their band aid solution. The last Rogers representative I spoke with told me "when you sign up with us, it is not guaranteed that you will receive stable phone calls or the best calling conditions" (Rogers Representative), something that made me realize that I was at a dead-end situation.


"Consumers complain about high prices and the lack of choice in the Canadian mobile market, composed mainly of an oligopoly between Bell, Rogers, and Telus," (TechVibes) stated Louis Rheaume, an experience consultant. I believe that it is not a question of profitability, but a question of paying and receiving the services that have lured you into signing a contract with these providers; services which have been openly advertised. Recent customer moves against this false advertising like the campaign known as the "Stop the Cell Phone Squeeze," which started in Ottawa this year, "have urged Canadians to speak out against the Big Three providers' near-oligopoly on the cell phone market." (


We should not have to go out of our way to obtain the services we pay for; for example, Andrea Cooper, a Rogers's customer, has made her ordeal public by using social media outlets like Tweeter: "I was on the phone for hours with them," Cooper said, "The woman was quite difficult and rude with me" ( It is not acceptable that consumers presently must turn to the media to get their concerns voiced out in order to get the services that they signed up for enforced. Nevertheless, a new change in regulations, which will allow more foreign investment, will hopefully increase competition and force current companies to provide better price plans and customer service in order to retain customers. It important that customers are provided with fair pricing and optimum services so if current companies can't provide them then somebody should.





Lasalle, LuAnn. "Wireless Market in Canada Opens to New Carriers." - Canadian Press, 14 Mar. 2012. Web. 11 June 2012. <>.


News, CBC. "Customer Tweets to Victory in Rogers Cell Service Battle - Nfld. & Labrador - CBC News." CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 24 Mar. 2012. Web. 11 June 2012. <>.


Pinto, Lindsey. " Calls out Big Cell Phone Providers for "trying to Shut out Independent Competitors"" OpenMedia, 11 Jan. 2012. Web. 11 June 2012. <>.


Rheaume, Louis. "Mobile Service in Canada: Overpriced and Anti-Competitive [Study].", 12 Apr. 2012. Web. 11 June 2012. <>.

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