Pat Drummond :: life & technology

August 15, 2013

Cell towers should be a public utility

Today's Ottawa Citizen article by Andrew Coyne (Telecom complaints easily dismissed) said "Whenever I hear those words -- "level playing field" -- I reach for my wallet."  That gave me such a belly laugh, I read on, and this line hit the nail on the head: "Divest the networks into a separate corporation, allowing everyone to compete -- what's the phrase? -- on a level playing field". Yes!

I have always thought this was the answer . Mobile communication has become almost as important as electricity - which I would have thought impossible to split. And yet Ontario has split power infrastructure from the services and billing.  It's too bad Canada didn't create a mobile utility that split up the mobile towers "utility" from the companies that provide services and phones back at the top, when it would have been easier.  If they had, all the mobile companies would be truly on a "level playing field".  So it will be difficult, but let's get on with it before the country falls too far behind.

I welcome any competition for selfish reasons -- so someday I may be able to buy the service tha I want.  ALL of Canada's current 'big three' bundle phones with service. I don't want a new phone. I tried (and failed) to get internet service for an unlocked, bought-and-paid-for phone and they told me about all about their great phones - or pay the same for my owned phone.  I  can get one with only 3 years worth of service.  I don't want to commit for three years. 3 years of those fees would pay for a used car. I just want basic service for phone, text and Internet, but can't buy that for less than $70/month. Insane. (My wired home internet is $56 so a combined home/mobile service would interest me, if anyone offered that service.)

I finally gave up and bought pay-as-you-go mobile "call/text" for about $100 a year -- that's $8/month kids. I could buy the optional $2 per day from Rogers Mobile if I needed, but probably only enough to read emails, if you skip the photos (haven't tried it). I'm not a newbie - I'm actually on my second mobile phone, and not looking forward to a third. I'd rather get the next communications breakthrough, whatever it is.  In the meantime, I await the day I can get competitive "smart" service for the "smart" phone I already have.  In the current regulatory setup, that won't be any time soon.