How Canadians are using the Internet to debunk Big Telecom Spin

Big Telecom is up to its old tricks again. They’ve invested some of their record profits into an expensive PR campaign, including misleading full page newspaper ads, in a clear effort to try to convince Canadians that cell phone service is not as bad as we know it is.

Earlier this year an OpenMedia.ca study, that included participation by over 3,000 Canadians, found cell phone customers face systemic mistreatment in this country.  We even worked with price-gouged Canadians to put together a toolkit for mistreated cellphone customers.

Needless to say, Canadians saw right through this expensive spin and have been actively using the Internet to debunk Big Telecom’s ridiculous claims.

Big Telecom’s ads rely heavily on a recent report on cell phone prices from Wall Communications that was commissioned by the government and the CRTC. Other reports on cell phone prices differ, with the well-respected J.D. Power Report concluding that Canadian cell phone bills rose by 13% in the last year - that’s thirteen times the rate of inflation!

We all know how Big Telecom loves to cherry-pick information. Here’s what you need to know about the Wall Report:

  • Telecoms expert Michael Geist responded to the report by pointing out that “Canada is described as being "on the high side" for virtually every key category, with only the U.S. faring consistently worse.”

  • Why does the U.S. seemingly fare worse in the report? Expert Peter Nowak has the answer, explaining that “On the wireless side, the new Canadian entrants are included, yet down in the United States, only AT&T, Verizon and Sprint are counted.” - no wonder Canada seems to fare better, when cheaper U.S. providers were excluded from the comparison entirely. This is a bit like comparing the cost of a Ford or Toyota in Canada to the cost of a BMW or Mercedes in the U.S., and concluding that cars cost cheaper in Canada!

  • There were similar issues with the comparisons to cell phone providers in the UK, with expensive providers like BT and Vodafone being included in the comparison, while much cheaper providers such as Tesco and GiffGaff were not.

  • Nowak also points out that the Wall Report compares just six countries, three of which (Canada, Japan, and the U.S.) are among the most expensive in the world for wireless. Nowak explains that “When additional countries are included in comparison – the Wireless Matrix compares 50, including 19 developed nations – Canada’s standing isn’t so middle-of-the-pack.”

  • Reddit user NowNowGuys makes a great point: “The ad is spinning the fact that on one or two tiers of service, the US is even worse than Canada. The report also compared only 6 countries, Australia, Canada, US, France, UK and Japan.”

  • Why weren’t more countries included in the report? According to Peter Nowak, report author Gerry Wall says he “wishes he could include more countries in his comparison, but he simply isn’t given the budget to do so.” - no prizes for guessing why the government wouldn’t want to provide funding for a proper assessment of Canada’s high cell phone prices.

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