Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications
The Issues

  • Letter from America
  • Letter to Pakistan
  • O Canada!
  • O Canada!

    We got an interesting email from Jeff Stubbings in Canada. The point about economies of scale is not one we have pushed much, but it's completely valid. In fact, it relates to our old friend cultural differences once again:

    There, services are made available cheaply to as many people as possible; once the inevitable problems are ironed out everyone is better off.

    Here, there seems to be a fear of problems; to forestall them services are made expensive, so few people take them up, so follow-up services and spinoffs appear in at best an atrophied state.

    As former colonialists, and as brothers in the Commonwealth, we on the other side of the pond are shocked and dismayed by the oppressive policies used not only by operators in Britain but others all over Europe . . .

    There is one point that I have not seen made in some of the discussions (though I have to admit that I have not read them all), namely economies of scale. Or, more to the point, how can operators justify such oppressive charges for phone use in a country one-hundredth the size of Canada with twice the population?

    Here in Canada, monthly access charges range from CDN$15.00 (where I live) to $30.00 per month. The only service that is metered is long distance, 800 and 900 services, and even that service will soon be offered at a flat rate. Take a look at the size of our country - now think about the cost of providing telephone and internet service even to the most remote locations (yes even those communities closest to the Arctic Circle have unmetered access!)

    Now compare the growth of Internet-related industries between the two continents. Where else in the world can a free e-mail service (Rocketmail) fetch US$400 MILLION when sold? Sales and marketing dollars spent on the Internet are in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Most importantly, jobs are being created for the youth in our society, where earlier this decade there were very few.

    Nicholas Negroponte wrote an excellent article in Wired magazine about a year ago on exactly this issue (although he attacked the oppressive practices by operators in developing countries). No, competition and regulations are the key to the success of filling state coffers with cash. Suffice it to say that while our investors made hoards of cash investing in these state-run operators, the people of those countries suffered. Competition and de-regulation are the key to securing the growth of the Internet and e-commerce, as well as expanding our minds and experience with the rest of the world.

    He pointed out that the telecommunications company he subscribes to started out in 1877 with two telephones!

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