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Why we love to hate the phone company

In Why Cloud the Issue With Facts? Mark Goldberg takes issue with a recent Ottawa Citizen editorial decrying high wireless access rates and the lack of competition in the Canadian market

Mark writes:

One paragraph was particularly insulting to the software and hardware developers that call Canada home:

Nobody with a cutting-edge product to sell wants to set up someplace where mobile phone and data connections are second-rate and cripplingly expensive, particularly if they're in the information-age industries we prize so highly, any more than you'd build a factory in a place with no roads or rail.

Are they really suggesting that Canada doesn't offer opportunities for communications research and development? Has the Citizen not looked out the window into the nature of industries set up in its own backyard? There are at least a couple people in the National Capital Region who draw paychecks from companies developing cutting edge products, including multi-national firms that could easily relocate elsewhere.

It's very true that there is a large population of skilled communications developers in the National Capital, and I'm not sure that anyone has any evidence, one way or the other, to show a net influx or outflow of jobs in Canada due to communications infrastracture or the expense associated with it.  The Citizen's point is tenuous, at best.  Read in the context of the other previous editorials that Mark has been dissecting, one might infer that the Citizen is referring to the brouhaha over the Apple iPhone.

He also writes:

Let's look at the paragraph that creatively calls CDMA the cellular equivalent of Betamax – I actually think that is a clever metaphor, but the Citizen wasn't satisfied with leaving it at that. Instead, it proclaimed:

a lack of interoperability with foreign providers makes life difficult for Canadians wanting to take their mobiles abroad, and for foreigners visiting Canada on business.

I don't believe it. Bell and TELUS both offer a number of devices, including the latest Blackberry, that provide global roaming capabilities. Help me understand how are foreign business people have been disadvantaged visiting Canada, just because we only have one GSM company? Is there any research to back this up, or is this another anecdotal tale being repeated to create an image of truth.

Dual mode devices from Bell and TELUS are recent additions to their product lines.  Anybody on a contract, or not wishing to shell out hundreds of dollars for a new phone, finds themselves stuck.  Now, honestly, one could argue that's a benefit too.  My business partner Howard, a Bell customer, recently spent two weeks in Spain visiting his daughter… two blessed weeks disconnected from BlackBerry and voice mail.

The communications infrastructure we have in Canada is excellent, although I made the choice long ago to ditch Bell and their CDMA products because of lack of choice, and limited utility in foreign markets.  No, the reason so many Canadians love to hate the phone company is because of lack of choice, high cost, and business practices… not because the networks or phones don't work. 

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