The concern among Canada’s telecommunications providers about a U.S. company setting up business in our country is far removed from our town, yet Conception Bay South is just one community that could benefit from some competition.
Various advertisements from the country’s telecommunications giants — Rogers, Bell Aliant and Telus — are arguing, among other things, that government rules may allow a U.S. company to buy some Canadian companies that our own providers cannot purchase. The issues are complex and the telecommunications firms may have valid arguments. However, some new competitors may serve us well in C.B.S.
We are the province’s largest town and one of the fastest growing, yet are very under serviced in telecommunications options. We really have only one option for cellphone service and two choices for Internet, television and, lately, conventional telephone service.
For years we had one source for traditional phone service, and while Bell and others are arguing that they put in the infrastructure that any U.S. competition will use, we customers have helped pay for the poles and wires. And we paid dearly for it over the years when Bell’s predecessor, Newfoundland Telephone, was the sole provider.
Here in C.B.S., we are still paying Bell a monthly “Long Pond extended service” of $2.50 which federal regulators allowed them to charge for extending their service out here. Forty years ago, the fee may have been relevant, but is it necessary today? Thankfully there is now a choice of telephone service with Rogers, who also provides television and Internet.
Bell Aliant is our only option for cellphone service. Some smaller providers such as Telus and Virgin Mobile are available, but they all use Bell’s infrastructure. The other major cellphone player — Rogers — has very limited or no service here in C.B.S., so Bell has our market.
Without competition, consumers pay and we certainly pay for our cellphone service. Like the old days when we only had one company offering telephone service, if you want cellphone service you really only have one choice here in C.B.S.
Anyone with a cellphone knows that in addition to the monthly fees, which depend on what features you want with your phone, there are activation fees, data fees, insurance coverage and a rash of other charges for various options. In order to get the best possible deal on the expensive cellphones, you have to lock into a three-year plan. If you want to get out of the plan, you will pay more fees as you are breaking your contract.
If you avail of some “bundle” and combine your cellphone with your home phone, television and Internet, you get some nice discounts. Try to change some part of your bundle and you often find that it will cost you more to change it, so you end up with more service than you really need.
Do you really need over 100 television channels just to get a good rate on Internet or cellphone service?
We do have a choice of Rogers and Bell for our television service, however, but if you want to have all telecommunications in one package, you have only one choice.
After living with years of monopolies and paying more than our counterparts in the U.S. and other parts of the world for cellphone and other services, a little competition may benefit us. Of course, the telecommunications giants will do their best to protect their profits and their markets, which benefit them and certainly not consumers, at least here in our town.
Joan Butler is a lifelong resident of Kelligrews, Conception Bay South. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.