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12/16/2010

A year in with new wireless carriers, are you better off?

Cellphones While the Christmas season is reason enough to celebrate, Wind Mobile has something else to commemorate at this time of the year.

On Dec. 16, Wind turned one. No milestone year for the wireless carrier, but it’s a milestone of change in our wireless landscape.Several years ago the CRTC sold off spectrum, or wireless “space,” to companies that wanted to be cell phone service providers. Whoever bought a spot on the spectrum would be able to send their radio waves through Canada.

Those companies would challenge the main, established players like Rogers, Bell and Telus.  

Wind Mobile was the first to hit the scene a year ago, and now they’re saying that thanks to them, Canadians have better options when it comes to wireless service for their phones.

There’s certainly more options – that’s for sure. At first if you didn’t like what one carrier was offering, you could only go to two others. Now there’s three newcomers – Wind, Public Mobile and Mobilicity. Competition was nowhere as fierce as it is now.

Wind arrived with plans aimed at customers upset with extra fees and contracts. On offer were plans that included unlimited talking, texting and data. And customers wouldn’t have to lock into a multi-year contract – but they did have to buy the phone up front.

Since competition heated up, Rogers launched a discount brand – Chatr. Bell followed suit, relaunching Solo.

Things even got nasty, with Rogers and Wind fighting it out with the Competition Bureau over claims that new players drop calls and the incumbents don’t. Well, Rogers was proven wrong and was slapped with a fine.

Are people ditching the major carriers to be set free with no contracts and unlimited plans? The carrier’s chairman, Anthony Lacavera, tells the Globe and Mail that by the end of the first year, they’ll have 200,000 subscribers.

A Harris/Decima poll (commissioned by Wind) found 40 per cent of Canadians feel prices for their cellphone plans have come down in the last year.

I’ve seen a difference with how my carrier behaved. This fall, I switched wireless providers and am paying about half of what I used to.

Have you benefited from more wireless competition? Have you been able to negotiate a cheaper plan?

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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