Big Three Telcos thwart innovation AND cut jobs

According to Statistics Canada, the Canadian economy gained a surprising 79,000 jobs in November, with the unemployment rate easing 0.1 percentage points to 8.5%.

The story hasn’t been quite as rosy in the telecommunications sector. Rogers Communications laid off 900 at the end of November in an effort to “streamline operations” and I just heard that TELUS continues to quietly let people go with 150 full-time staff getting pink slips yesterday.

To add insult to injury, this latest round of layoffs in Canada come at a time when the Big Three (Bell, Rogers, and TELUS) continue to outsource jobs offshore.

Not only is TELUS outsourcing thousands of Canadian jobs to the Philippines, but they have established a business unit to take advantage of their world-class reputation in outsourcing call centers. Ouch.

Add to this story that fact that the Big Three are strongly opposing the entry of Globalive’s Wind Mobile in the wireless space because they’re not “Canadian” enough according to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Globalive Wireless Management (Globalive) does not meet the Canadian ownership requirements set out in the Telecommunications Act. Under the legislation, a telecommunications company is only eligible to operate in Canada if it is not at any time owned and controlled, in law and in fact, by non-Canadians.

Does anybody else see the irony here? Our country has rules stating that a Company must be 80% owned by Canadians, yet the Canadian Companies that Company will be competing with are laying off Canadians and outsourcing jobs outside the Country. 

Globalive currently employs close to 1,200 Canadians and have even insisted on keeping them on the payroll doing charity volunteer work while they wait to hear their fate from the CRTC.

Based on all this, should we really be surprised that Canada is falling behind in the wireless space?

Canada’s wireless industry is one of the weakest in the developing world. Merrill Lynch puts Canadian wireless penetration at 65 per cent, last among 22 developed countries (below Tunisia and Iraq). The International telecommunications Union (ITU) has tracked Canada’s decline from 35th in 1998 to 128th in 2008 – far behind many underdeveloped nations.”

This isn’t only about Canadian jobs. New competition in the wireless industry will lower prices, increase adoption and penetration, and lead to more companies building solutions to address consumer needs.

It’s called innovation and it’s time something is done about it. Globalive is speaking up this holiday season but will that be enough?