Sunday, December 19, 2010


On my way home from school a month or so ago I noticed when stopped at a red light on particularly ugly night (rainy, snowy, and dark) a sign in the distance. It was in a plaza that I often visited but I had not been there in many months. The sign was new and I tried to make out what it said. All that I could make out was the word 'Mobil" before the bus continued on its way.

It couldn't have been more than a few days later that I read an article in the Ottawa Citizen about this very store. Interestingly it came very close to the issues that I raised about the problem with mobile service in Canada only a short time earlier. The company's name is Mobilicity and it looks to follow a similar stance to mobile communications that new companies like WIND and Chat-r are.

I even received a flyer from Mobilicity a few weeks after I read this article. It's funny how stuff like this happens.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Does Canada have a mobile future?

If I handed you a piece of paper asking you, "Does Canada have a mobile future?" YES, NO, or MAYBE. Which answer would you circle? At first glance you would think the answer is yes but is it really? The answer certainly can't be no, the release of smart phones by Apple, RIM, HTC, etc is a clear indication that our society is moving in a more mobile direction. People want to be connected to social media and e-mails more and more. Can the answer be maybe? I certainly believe this is the correct answer.

In an article published by the Ottawa Citizen yesterday titled 'Mobile revolution' bypassing Canadians: report, we see some results that are quite shocking (I tried to find an interesting pun for this but alas 'shocking' was the best I could do). Which countries would you think use social networking, blogs and photo sharing online the most? The United States? Japan? I was surprised to read that countries like China, Brazil, and India (all relatively new industrialized and developing countries) spend more time using these online outlets than Canada.

According to this report only 27% of Canadians have said they have ever written a blog, or written on an online forum as oppose to 88% of China and 51% of Brazil's online population. If you think Canadians and Americans love to put up their photos on social networking sites your sadly mistaken. 60% of Canadians say they share photos on social networking sites but Thailand and Malaysia's population says nearly 88-92% share their photos through social networking. Is this a bad thing? No. But it may be more of a problem with broadband access than some people realize.

I recently wanted to switch my cellular plan because I found myself texting far more often than I found myself using the phone...for you know... calling. While I was looking at my current provider I decided to look at data plans as well (since I am continuing with my education, managing appointments, organizing group meetings, etc. I thought it would be at least looking into). To my surprise I couldn't find a single one that offered unlimited data plans. I don't see myself using over 5gb per month on my cellular phone but what about heavy users? Shouldn't people at least have the option? Rogers maxes out at 5gb. Fido maxes out at 2gb. Bell maxes out at 3gb. I was extremely surprised with the lack of mobile options available to Canadians. Compare that to data plans in the United States, Verizon has unlimited data plan for $29 per month! Rogers 5gb data plan is $60!

Some new to Canada service providers like Wind Mobile have begun offering more affordable services to Canadians and this began to get me very excited. Could there finally be a cellular company that makes deals like the United States? Yes. For $45 a month (still expensive but you aren't signed into a contract), you aren't 'pigeon holed' into a set limit of data. Unfortunately however after reading into Wind Mobile reviews it seems that there are mixed opinions on their service quality. So I will wait before jumping onto the Wind Mobile bandwagon. There is hope however with the introduction of new mobile carriers trying to shake up the Canadian mobile market. It has led Canadian cell phone providers like Rogers to take notice. They (Rogers) recently introduced another provider Chatr to compete against companies like Wind.

So to come back to the original question, does Canada have a mobile future? I'd say maybe. If companies stop restricting the amount of data people can use and remove the infuriating price for data plans that are (in my opinion) restricting the Canadian population then yes. American cell phone companies already show that it is possible to provide unlimited data at a more reasonable price so why are they throttling Canadians? Same goes with hi-speed internet access. Did you know they can cap the internet usage? 10gb/month. 60gb/month. or 90gb per month. Also if they find you are using the internet 'too hard' they can restrict your bandwidth (this is called bandwidth throttling). It is downright outrageous that Cable and mobile companies have the right to limit your access even though you pay for it. Things have to change in Canada for us to have a chance at a good mobile future.

For additional reading on the CRTC's (Canadian Radio- Television and Telecommunications Commission) ruling on WIND mobile and the government's decision to overrule its decision click here.

Barber, M. (2010, Oct. 11). 'Mobile Revolution' bypassing Canadians: Report. Ottawa Citizen, p.1.