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The Silence About WNP in Canada is Deafening

Wireless number portability (WNP) is coming to Canada in just over two weeks but judging by the lack of media coverage and non-existent advertising by the major carriers (Telus, Bell and Rogers), you’d think it wasn’t a big deal. Truth be told, WNP was hoisted upon the carriers who argued there was no demand for it by consumers. Of course, the carriers hate the idea of WNP because it means they’ll have to treat customers better and – heaven forbid – offer them deals to stick around. In other words, WNP could encourage competition in Canada – and none of the carriers really want to see that monster emerge.

This explains why the carriers have been so quiet about WNP. I mean, why advertise when WNP looks like zero-sum game: you may attract some customers from other carriers but chances are you’ll lose some of your own customers. That said, Rogers looks like it has the most to gain from WNP because as Canada’s only GSM carrier, it has the coolest phones, roaming out of the country is a snap, and you can move to another phone by simply putting your SIM card in. I expect Virgin Canada will also do well with some aggressive marketing.

That said, do not be surprised if the carriers somehow make it difficult for consumers to take their business and telephone numbers to a rival carrier. Perhaps they will charge a “transfer fee” to cost the administrative costs of moving a customer, or maybe the process will take several weeks to happen rather than a few days. Call me a conspiracy theorist but the carriers never wanted WNP and will likely to do their best to downplay its existence.

For other thoughts, check out the David Rotor.

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  • http://www.creativetraction.com/blog Duane Brown

    I’ve been waiting on WNP for the last year or so. I can’t wait and I don’t care what it takes but I’m taking my number with me and there is nothing Fido can do about it.

  • http://www.longtail.ca John A. Robb

    I for one cannot wait for WNP! I currently have service from two carriers. I forward my Telus phone to my Bell BB so that I don’t have to send out the “update my details” email (which is what http://www.plaxo.com is for ;-). I’ll be calling Bell on March 14th to get my number switched.

  • http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/blogs/techknow Ian Barr

    Aside from Rogers Wireless and Virgin Mobile, I think Amp’d will also be a major force when it officially opens up shop. I’m equally surprised at the lack of attention it has received and am wondering why a public advocacy group hasn’t been proactive about getting the word out.

    Whenever I’ve brought the topic up amongst friends, it’s been met with blank faces. They really aren’t aware of it.

    In discussions with reporters about the topic at CES, there wasn’t nearly the amount of interest in the topic as I thought there would be.

  • http://seaboardgroup.com Kevin Restivo

    Better deals will be offered to consumers if and when a new entrant or new entrants starts operations in Canada (with any luck in 2008 or 2009).

    Until then, consumers should expect more of the same from Canada’s wireless carriers.

    Kevin

  • http://www.technosailor.com Aaron Brazell

    WNP has probably been the biggest single gain for consumers here in the States. Like you say, Mark, the carriers have been forced to offer better deals and enhance the intangible qualities of their networks in the face of stepped up competition. At this point, wireless carriers are even in some cases buying out contracts at competitors so the consumers don’t have to pay the penalties and getting the numbers ported transparently.

    WNP is a boon for consumerism.

  • Monika

    I can’t wait for WNP. It has baffled me for years why telephone companies are willing to do any and nearly everything to get a new customer to sign on, but once the customer signs the contract they are often treated badly. Hopefully this will wake the telecom industry in Canada up to the fact that you have to be nice to your customer if you want to keep them. Hopefully. Call me a conspiracy theorist but I am not sure if Canadian telecom industry can at this point even remember what customer service means.

  • http://leighhimel.blogspot.com Leigh

    Got a telemarketing call from Bell the other day letting me know I have a personal customer service agent and checking in to make sure I am happy (NOT!). I would say the Telco’s are in “defection risk” planning mode and have some minor proactive marketing strategies in place for “high risk, high value” customers just like me.

    I personally can’t wait not only for WNP but also for the “emergency” marketing meetings that are going to take place when their quaterly numbers come in. There is nowhere to hide in the digital age. And mainstream media attention or not, the impact of WNP is inevitable.

  • Nolin

    Word is that there’s a “gentlemen’s agreement” between Bell, Rogers, and Telus not to make a big deal out of WNP since they expect they all have equally dissatisfied customers (grass is always greener, isn’t it?).

    I’d bet a decent sum of money that the majors will be much more aggressive with their poaching via their MVNOs… Bell through Virgin, and Telus through AMP’D. What will Rogers use as its trojan horse?

  • http://skypejournal.com Jim Courtney

    Watch for the flood of changes to Rogers by those who want a Pearl but can only get it from Rogers. I continuously encounter people who want to switch to be able to get a Pearl. I endorse your comment that Rogers has the most to gain from WNP.

  • Armando B.

    Hi all,

    I’ve been working with the Telco companies for more than 15 years, and I’ve noticed many different aspects to all of them, Virgin Mobile and Bell have nothing to offer the clients with WNP as CDMA is ancient. Rogers and Fido have GSM yes, but the experience that people have had with Rogers and Fido will scar them for years to come, especially those who have had credit issues because of them which is 80% of there clientele(ask Equifax about number 1 complaints) Telus on the other hand try to hard, I find that the call centers with Telus vary, I find that the Call Centers in Montreal are much more into the We’re your Friends attitude, as opposed to the West where Telus has gotten old and brittle and simply mean. Mike is also a great service that Telus offers and the network is simply better, I have had my problems with Telus but the good thing was that they were resolved with Bell wait a year, with Rogers wait forever.
    good luck all..WNP welcome to Canada..!!

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