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troublesome mobile

Rogers buys Shaw. How bad can the news get?

Three weeks ago it was announced that Rogers Communications Inc. is planning to buy Shaw Communications Inc. This is yet another example of the big communications and media companies in Canada giving the middle finger to the public, and doing what they want to maintain the oligopoly they hold over the aforementioned marketplaces. Study after study, year after year finds that Canadians pay the highest prices for cell phone usage in the world, and yet the federal government, who are supposed to regulate these companies, pays lip service to lower prices but never actually follow that up with action.

Shaw owns Freedom Mobile (to whom I refer as “Troublesome Mobile” given the absolute gong show I had transferring a number to them from Virgin, a number I actually had to abandon), and they are the only reason I only quite recently got a cell phone in Canada. Before 2019 I found it more convenient and cheaper to have a phone with an American provider and “roam” in Canada. I combined that with Sugar Mobile to have a Canadian phone number. It wasn’t exactly a great system, but having lived in Third World countries in the past I am used to “making a plan” to work around the inefficiencies of Third World governments and thinking. Welcome to Canada.

Ironically, Air Canada just cancelled their planned purchase of Air Transat. The reason? The European Commission wanted concessions from the newly enlarged airline, while the Canadian government had given the green light to the merger. Thank the gods for the EC, saving Canadians from ourselves.

There has been talk that the federal government could insist that Freedom Mobile and perhaps Shaw’s fledgling cell phone service, Shaw Mobile, be excluded from the deal, to do something to encourage the nascent development of competition in our mobile industry, but such a suggestion assumes that the Canadian federal government has the cojones to do so. (But speaking of Shaw Mobile, it looks to me a lot like Sugar Mobile, the company against which Rogers successfully waged a legal challenge to shut them down in 2017! That hypocrisy is a story for another day though.) While I would support the federal government doing something like that, it won’t be enough for other opponents of the deal, such as OpenMedia.

I can assure Brad Shaw and Edward Rogers though that, regardless of the action or lack thereof from the Canadian government, if the purchase and merger go ahead, the new company will lose a long-time customer of Internet connectivity, cable TV, and now cell/mobile service. The cell service will go back to the United States; Internet will probably go to one of the resellers (possibly even of Rogers, but we don’t have much choice), and if I can get my shit together we’ll “cut the cable” completely.


Updated, 2021-04-07: Add link to Troublesome Mobile.