Highlights from CTS 2014

Rich Uncle Pennybags

With the Canadian Telecom Summit—the industry’s annual high-five—over and done with, here’s a brief collection of notable items that trickled through my news feeds over the past few days. If my comments on the stories to follow seem especially snarky it’s because the organizer of the event sent Howard a cease and desist last year. And I hold grudges.

Monday, June 16th

Rogers CEO: Telcos must focus on time savings

In his opening keynote Guy Laurence absolutely nailed the biggest issue facing Canadian wireless users. Arbitrary rate increases and price-fixing? No, stupid, it’s time.

Laurence said Canada’s wireless industry hasn’t done enough [to] deliver on time-savings, pointing to thousands of pricing plans that force consumers to spend time researching telecom companies’ best buys online and to customers forced to cool their heels waiting for assistance from call centres.

The company is already taking steps to make their plans less confusing, like forcing users coming out of contracts into newer, more expensive plans and raising rates on grandfathered add-ons.

On privacy, Canadian telecoms should be held to ‘far higher standard’

In a session probably attended by no one, Professor Ron Deibert of The Citizen Lab and the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies spoke about the warrantless disclosure of user data by telecom companies. If such things don’t interest you move along, nothing to see here. If you do care about your privacy and charter rights you might want to check out my plugs for Jesse Brown’s CANADALAND podcast, episodes #25 and #31.

Tuesday, June 17th

Wind Seeks Spectrum From Mobilicity or Others to Compete

On Tuesday WIND Mobile CEO Anthony Lacavera apparently used his turn at the podium to ask for a government handout, so that WIND could add to their small collection the towers from that other struggling upstart, Mobilicity. There was also mention of an upcoming unlimited national roaming plan, which you’d think a national carrier would already offer. Nope. That’s Canada for you…

Wednesday, June 18th

Videotron Plans to Bring Canadians “New High Quality, Low-Cost Wireless”

The closing keynote—that is, before the event organizers had to get in their own last words—came from Pierre Dion, the new CEO of Quebecor (and Vidéotron). As sound bites go, his was better than most:

Under the right conditions, we are ready, willing and able to become Canada’s “fourth wireless competitor.”

Mic drop.

While not offering anything more tangible than that, the company has launched a new website—AffordableWireless.ca—with a rather ominous tagline:

There has never been a better time for a mobile revolution in Canada.

Agreed. So we’re all to meet at midnight and dump our cell phone bills into the harbour, then?

In all seriousness, Vidéotron won a good chunk of 700Mhz spectrum this past winter in parts of BC, Alberta and Ontario. Whether or not they’re actually going to deploy it anytime soon is anyone’s guess.

So there you go, a few highlights from CTS 2014. If I missed anything important or got something wrong, let’s hear about it!