Telephone Monopoly Troubles: Peru & Canada

Citizen Wealth Community Organizations International Financial Justice

rogersToronto It is not often that my friends in Canada are willing to concede that there might be a service in the US that is superior to what exists in the great north, so I was paying careful attention to the torrent of complaints that spewed forth before the beer was even on the table after a well played game we had enjoyed between the Blue Jays and the Yanks about the lack of competition in the Canadian telephone industry which was simply hammering Canadians on both cost and service. The company drawing heaviest fire was Rogers, but this was partially because they are one of the few in the sight line of course.

Many of them were astounded at the lower cost of monthly and specialized services in the US market compared to the more restricted, low competition scene in Canada. I stumbled on to the problem first hand early on a Sunday morning trying to get on wireless. Where service had been fine in my basement lodging, it had suddenly disappeared off the screen completely. Worse there were no other unsecured sites that I could locate even in this residential area in not that far from the University. Strange? Same problem on the unsecured site at the Starbucks where I drug my computer 5 blocks down the way.

Talking to Josh Stuart, ACORN Canada’s Special Projects and international master of technology, it turned out that Rogers is on a wild campaign against unsecured wireless sites. In the name of “checking” security, they regularly go on unsecured sites and turn them off for days on security “checks” in order to try and force customers with fully paid bills to change their sites to “secured.” Why? Simple reason is that they want to make everyone pay for wireless service so they see an unsecured site, even where only a simple houseguest like myself or a Starbucks customer, as a place for free riders and scofflaws. Being a quasi-monopoly, they don’t mind being both expensive and bully boys and pushing people off the air. Dogs!

These kinds of telephone tactics seem all the rage around the world even while service expansion in places as remote as India, China, and Kenya are growing. When we were recently in Lima, the organizers for ACORN Peru were even more adamant about the problem of texting or calling any of the members for meetings and actions, because in the slums the time is carefully calibrated to the minutes bought, and though this practices is so “1990’s” in the US and elsewhere, in Peru the telephone monopolies charge minutes for incoming calls still, so no one ever wants to answer their phones unless it’s an absolute emergency.

The cheerleaders for globalism sometimes forget to read the fine print on the problems of working people trying to access even the basic services whether in the slums of Lima or the neighborhoods of Toronto, but where companies are allowed to have their way with people, it will never be pretty.