Startup wireless carriers like Wind and Mobilicity and capturing one in four new subscribers, according to a report by the CRTC, but they still have a long way to go.
Public Mobile, Videtron, Mobilicity, and Globalive (which owns Wind) have combined to snag a full quarter of all new wireless phone subscribers over the past year—but as far as the whole market is concerned, their share amounts to a mere 2 percent all of subscribers in Canada after two years in the business.
Iain Grant, managing director for research firm SeaBoard Group, stated that the incumbents—Rogers, Bell, and Telus—"have actually done a good job off holding off the new entrants." He did acknowledge, though, that "the new entrants are just getting started."
Even if the newbies own only 2 percent of the market, their mere presence has sparked a new wave of competition in the telecom industry, prompting (slightly) better deals from the incuments. The proof is in the pudding, with the CTRTC affirming that the average monthly cellphone bill is down one dollar from $59 to $58.
But the future may yet change everything. The government has some 700 megahertz spectrum on reserve that it intends to auction off within the next couple of years—and who can bid on it may determine the fate of Canada's wireless industry. If the Big Three are allowed to buy it up, they will, thanks to their vast financial resources dwarfing that of the startups. And if they do, the newbies gain nothing, lose any potential advantage, and all is lost.
Time will tell.