Thursday, March 1, 2007

WNP Making Canadian Wireless Market Interesting - Did Bell Make a Good Deal?

Wireless Number Portability - WNP - is a big deal in Canada right now, as it's been a long time coming, and is just around the corner now. We have 3 major wireless carriers here, and they're all gearing up for this since they're all going to be making frenzied pitches to steal landline subscribers away from each other. Bell certainly has the most to lose here since they have the largest base of wireline subscribers.

Not surprisingly, late yesterday, Bell announced a new plan for unlimited local calling between all Bell wireline and wireless numbers. They have special "Bell to Bell" plans for new subscribers, and existing subscribers can add this service "for as little as $10 a month".

While this sounds like a good plan, it comes at a cost. So it's an interesting twist where the subscriber is actually paying more money to stay with Bell. Of course, they're getting the benefit of free Bell-to-Bell calling, and if it works, Bell wins at both ends. They get higher ARPU - something impatient shareholders are dying to see - and they keep their customers from running to Rogers or Telus or... ummm... oh - possibly Virgin or Amp'd. We don't really have many choices in the first place, and that's what makes WNP so interesting.

Wireless competition in Canada is another topic unto itself, and I'm just trying to draw attention to how the major mobile operators are responding to changing market conditions.

So, back to my question - is this a good plan for Bell subscribers? As Howie would say, "let's open the last case and see just how good a deal you really made". Well, a few days ago, Rogers came out with their WNP salvo - My Home Connections. Guess what - it includes domestic long distance calling between Rogers wireline/wireless subscribers - and there's no charge. Gee, I think I know what Howie would say. Stacey, open the case...

Quick sidebar - interestingly, no news from Telus on this front. Of course they jumped the gun offering adult content to differentiate themselves, but that's not happening now, and perhaps they're taking a more cautious approach this time around. Good idea.

Fellow Canadian bloggers Mark Evans and Mark Goldberg have been posting about this as well if you want further reading. The latter post is particularly worthwhile as Mark raises some important questions about the government's role in promoting competition where we basically have a oligopoly.



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1 comment:

ipcom said...

Posted by: Jim Courtney

Jon,

You missed one Rogers announcement: a couple of weeks ago they announced Unlimited Network Calling (UNC): free **local** calls from Rogers wireless phones to any other Rogers Wireless or Rogers Home Phone customers. Of course they do not have the installed landline base of Bell but they are the largest wireless carrier.

This is different from My Home Connections where long distance calling is involved for Home Phone customers. Bell to Bell Calling is as much a response to Rogers UNC announcement. A real nice hodge-podge for users to figure out the subtleties.

That said, I have had several people come up to me to say they will switch to Rogers when WNP is available just to be able to have the new Blackberry Pearl as their wireless phone (only available for GSM currently). The younger generation is very much aware that WNP is coming; it's just being communicated below the radar. IM, blogs and other "private" real time communications tools in action....