NO KUDOS FOR KOODO

In Business & Technology /

Eric Lam

Biz & Tech Editor

If you’ve been to Dundas Station in the past week, you’ve likely noticed the cheesy new retro ad campaign for Koodo Mobile, promising cheap rates and no system access fees.

But if you’re thinking this has anything to do with the Ontario government’s promise to loosen the Big Three’s (Rogers, Bell and Telus) monopoly on the cell phone market, you’re wrong.

Late last year, Telus quietly registered the brand name Koodo in several different provinces, and recently began setting up kiosks in the Eaton Centre. According to the National Post, Koodo’s plans are almost-exact copies of Telus’s, and the three phones they offer are already on the market.

So unless you really love Flashdance, you’re defi nitely not going gritty — and cheap — by going Koodo.

In fact, cell phone hopefuls like Quebecor, Shaw Communications and others have to wait till the end of May to bid on the soon-to-be widened spectrum, so you’re really not sticking it to the Man at all here.

To be fair, Telus isn’t alone in trying to mislead the young folk. Virgin is partnered with Bell, and Fido was bought out by Rogers ages ago. That still doesn’t excuse the skullduggery. But even if there are more cell phone providers on the market, will it really make a difference? Sadly, no.

The problem isn’t in the number of companies on the market, but the market itself, which leaves zero true power in the hands of the consumer.

In Canada, cell phones are restricted to the company you buy them from. So if you put a Rogers SIM card into a Fido phone, it won’t work.

But in Hong Kong last year, I bought a retail cell phone and tricked it out with a cheap SIM card. No plan, and a myriad of cheap choices. And it’s like this in other countries, too.

We are so far away from anything like this right now, it isn’t even funny.

And until we control the very phones we use, no amount of cell phone providers on the market.

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