If ever a podcast needed show notes, it’s this one.
Before blogging here I used to co-host a podcast called Dyscultured; one of my duties there was assembling the show notes for each episode. I really want you to listen to Professor Winseck’s interview and get the most out of it. So consider these the unofficial show notes for CANADALAND Episode 9: Wireless Wars.
- Canadian Wireless Telecom Association (CWTA)
- International Institute of Communications (IIC) Canada Chapter
- Bernard Lord, President & CEO of CWTA & IIC
- Jeffrey Church, Economics Professor at the University of Calgary
Talk to the Hand
The interview begins with a quick debrief of Professor Winseck’s “debate” with Bernard Lord on an Ottawa radio show. Here is a link to that exact episode — unfortunately there is no archived audio, nor even a mention of these particular guests…
Winseck asserts that the debate was “stacked” with CWTA talking points, and later draws attention to 1310News being owned by Rogers. Scroll down to the bottom of this page for proof.
What Winseck was trying to get across was a general point from his recent paper that mobile concentration rates around the world are astonishingly high, and that across Europe, in the United States and in Israel (for example) a fourth national wireless carrier is the norm.
The discussion turns to Winseck’s appearance at the IIC Canada Conference last month, and to another paper — Wireless Competition in Canada: An Assessment, co-authored by Jeffrey Church and Andrew Wilkins. According to Winseck the paper is not only wrong, it’s bought research.
The Church/Wilkins study makes the following arguments:
- There is no wireless competition problem in Canada;
- Canada’s low OECD ranking is wrong.
Its authors, Winseck says, have been flown around the country by our Big Three carriers and given op-eds in major media outlets. Two examples cited:
Fun fact: Bell’s parent company BCE has a 15% stake in the Globe and Mail.
Professor Winseck maintains that there is a cone of silence around his paper. He calls out Globe reporter Rita Trichur, who heard his talk at the IIC but decided (or was told to?) cover a talk by Bell Media President Kevin Crull instead.
The Big Three apparently lost $20 billion in market capitalization over rumours of Verizon coming to Canada. I couldn’t corroborate that specific figure, but according to Peter Nowak the Big Three lost a collective $6 billion in just two days.
But in Winseck’s appearance with Jeffrey Church the latter’s study was “gutted”. According to Winseck, Church’s paper is fundamentally flawed in at least three ways:
- Rogers is used as a proxy for the industry as a whole.
- Wireless is incorrectly observed as a single product life cycle; generational changes in technology (GSM, 3G, LTE) are conveniently ignored.
- Free cash flow is used as the only measure of profit — equity, operating income, net income are all ignored. Considering these extra metrics, Rogers is, in fact, making super-normal profits.
Ben Klass’s complaint to the CRTC is going forward, and it’s a big deal. The only question is if the CRTC will treat this as a narrow proceeding considering only Bell, or if the scope will be broadened to include the entire Canadian wireless industry.
The mainstream media has yet to cover this story. As Winseck puts it, the cone of silence has been imposed. Canada is the North Korea of telecom and media policy.
Professor Winseck’s Twitter account was in suspension for some 48 hours. He has yet to receive an explanation from Twitter. Jesse Brown managed to get a response, but only that Twitter doesn’t comment on suspended accounts.
Did Winseck trigger a spam alert? In the day or so before his suspension he was repeatedly tweeting the same links, specifically targeting international journalists since their domestic counterparts seemed uninterested and/or unwilling.
Winseck’s colleague Josh Greenburg summed up the suspension in his own tweet: Glitch in the matrix or punishment for industry criticism?
There is an unfortunate precedent for silencing such criticism. Not so long ago a YouTube video parodying U.S. cable companies was banned in Canada for some reason.
Professor Winseck has posted an open letter to Twitter on his personal blog. Worth a retweet if you’re so inclined.
- Four or more national carriers are needed for a competitive marketplace.
- Orange is in Canada kicking the tires. Our government should throw out the welcome mat.
- A wireless connection, a phone in your pocket are necessities of life.
These came fast and furious in the closing minutes of the interview. It’s basically a list of those aligned with the idea of reforming Canada’s wireless sector. I’m already following some of them on Twitter; I’ll link to the others’ Twitter accounts so we can follow them all:
- Ben Klass
- Jean-Francois Mezei
- Jesse Brown
- Peter Nowak
- Christine Dobby
- Daniel Tencer
- Simon Doyle
- Nicholas Kyonka
Remember too, that Professor Winseck is registered on these very forums. If you have any further questions about his interview, post them below and you might get an answer straight from the source…