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5 events that will impact your budget for Internet and Digital phone services in 2023 and beyond

Man with his back turned is using his right hand to click a 5G symbol indicating the wave of the future.

Like many industries emerging from the Covid world, the Telecoms industry has come roaring back and 2023 promises to be another year of continued growth. At NetJOI, we peeped deep into our crystal ball to identify the top 5 events that will further shape the industry, but more importantly, have an outsized impact on the amount that you pay for your Internet or Digital Phone services.in 2023 and beyond.

Now, we acknowledge that our crystal ball isn’t perfect as it blew a fuse when it tried to predict the next Canadian NHL team to win the Stanley team, so let us know in your comments whether we missed the mark.

TL:DR – the following table summarizes our takes on the major events in 2023 that will impact your Internet or Phone bill.

EventDescriptionBudget ImpactWhy
Shaw & Rogers mergerTwo big players getting together to reduce prices, increase competition and better face future challenges (in their words)😭  If the merger is approved, the combined entity have promised that they will not increase prices for the next 3 years. Color us at NetJOI skeptical but assuming the promise is kept, what happens after the 3 years has elapsed?
Shift In %age of Workers Going To OfficeSince the pandemic, there has been a large shift in the workforce as many have chosen to continue working from home.🙁  77% of Canadians seek job flexibility for better control over work hours and location. Employers are exploring hybrid or remote work models to reap benefits such as reduced carbon footprint and lower travel costs. This will increase the urgency to have all Canadians fully connected with a reliable and fast Internet service. 
The Rural to Urban DivideThere is a massive difference in the connectivity and internet options you can find across Canada. In rural areas, fast, reliable internet is hard to get.😓  Urban areas are spoiled for choice when it comes to the number of Internet providers (if you can afford it). Unfortunately, the same is not true of more rural areas and this can be quite a problem as it limits the potential of our workforce. 
Telus’ Credit Card Fees  Telus has proposed a surcharge on credit card transactions of $1.50 to cover costs that the company otherwise pays out of pocket.😭😡  This change resulted from a class action lawsuit involving certain banks, Visa and Mastercard who together conspired to set higher interchange fees. Telus started charging some credit card customers the interchange fee of 1.5%; we will continue to monitor how this progresses and whether it’s the just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
Wholesale Providers  There are a large amount of small time local providers that offer a lot of value to customers. They do not make it to the forefront due to competition from major companies.🥳🤩Big companies in Canada constantly swallow up smaller firms before they get a chance to establish themselves as proper competitors. This is part of why consumer choice is dying in the telecoms industry. The CRTC has recently indicated a shift in their strategy to better support wholesale companies like NetJOI, TekSavvy, NetFox and others. We can only hope that the CRTC will aggressively introduce policies to better promote and support wholesale players.

Shaw and Rogers: What Does This Merger Mean?

This merger is a real kerfuffle. It’s one of the biggest in recent history, and it’s no surprise that it’s making waves throughout the telecommunications industry. But let’s face it, mergers like these are never good for customers.

It’s the same old story with the big guys like Rogers, Shaw, and Bell. They just keep getting bigger and more powerful, and what does that mean for us? Higher prices and worse service? And don’t even get us started on trying to get customer service from these behemoths while they’re busy trying to absorb their competitor.

Laura Tribe from OpenMedia is right on the money when she says that we need more competition to level the playing field and give people more options. But instead, we’re stuck with these telecom giants who only care about their bottom line.

Rogers might have promised not to raise prices for three years, but we all know that’s just a bunch of boo-hockey. When it comes to Canadian telecoms, it’s always been a case of the big guys getting bigger and the little guys getting squeezed out, and that’s not good for anyone.

A Post-Covid Canadian Workforce

Did you know that Canadians love working from home? In January 2016, only 4% of Canadians worked from home. But in 2021, that number skyrocketed to 32%! That’s a lot of people in their pajamas all day!

Of course, the pandemic had something to do with it. When we were all stuck inside, people who typically worked outside their homes had to find a way to work from within their four walls. And you know what? A whopping 80% said they loved it so much that they wanted to work at least half their hours from home. I mean, who wouldn’t want to work in their PJs with their pet as their coworker?

And it’s not just us regular folk who love working from home. Even graduates with bachelor’s degrees are passionate about it. They want to work half their hours from home! And women? They’re even more into it than men.

Jobs that require more technical skills or education saw the biggest increase in work-from-home rates. Even people with just a high school diploma saw a 16% increase due to the pandemic. Graduates with degrees, on the other hand, worked a whopping 67% of their hours from home.

And you know what? Working from home is not just good for our mental health and work-life balance. It’s also great for the environment! With fewer cars commuting to work, there’s a significant reduction in emissions and greenhouse gases. That’s a win-win, eh? We’re doing our part to save the planet, one Zoom call at a time.

More and more folks are working from home these days, and if you’re living out in the boonies, then you’re really gonna feel the burn. The problem is, our interwebs and telecom services up here in the Great White North weren’t exactly top-notch, to begin with, and this new reality is just poking that issue even harder.

We need reliable, speedy internet like we need our double-doubles from Tim Hortons. But here’s the thing: the big players in this game aren’t exactly known for their amazing customer service, are they? And with so few choices, it’s hard to even get a decent connection, let alone any sort of personalized service. What’s a Canuck to do?

Rural to Urban: The Divide in Canadian Internet

Oh, Canada! Sure, we’re known for our maple syrup, hockey, and politeness, but did you know that 10% of us don’t have access to the internet? That’s right, hundreds of thousands of households can’t even meet the minimum speeds required for work.

We’re supposed to be a first-world country that relies on telecommunications, but we can’t even provide internet access to all our regions? The big players have all the ingredients for poutine but still, somehow manage to mess it up.

It’s frustrating that the big players in the telecommunications industry are waiting for the government to connect the 10% of Canadians without high-speed internet. Meanwhile, they continue to charge high prices, provide terrible customer service, and offer vague plans for future improvements. We’re being screwed twice!

Rogers’ recent announcement of a $1 billion fund to improve telecommunications in indigenous communities and rural areas across Canada is a step in the right direction, but it’s not clear when these changes will start, what these services will cost, or what kind of high-speed internet customers can expect. This lack of transparency only fuels skepticism from the public.

The only clear thing about this Rogers and Shaw merger is that they’re excited about 5G networks. I mean, who isn’t? But Shaw is convinced that this 5G takeover will magically fix the no-net problem in rural areas. Good luck with that one, bud.

Don’t worry, though. It’s not just Rogers and Shaw trying to save the day. The government’s also getting in on the action. They started the broadband fund to improve connectivity across the Great White North, and they dedicate a whopping $3.225 billion to it every year. They’ve already spent over $7 billion improving internet connectivity in rural and underserved areas.

Telus and Credit Cards: Who Should Pay Additional Fees?

So, here’s the deal! Telus, the beloved telecom company, tried to sneak in an extra processing fee of 1.5% for credit card payments which, in blunt words, means that your bill is about to increase by 1.5%, but the CRTC, our Canadian superhero, said, “No way, Jose!” and shut that down for home phone services in small communities.

Unfortunately, Telus still has free rein in unregulated areas. Ian Scott, the CRTC Chairperson, was all like, “Hey, this is not cool. You can’t just nickel-and-dime people like that!” And we agree because we’re already paying one of the highest fees in the world.

But, get this, as of October 2022, Canadian businesses can add a fee to credit card payments after a settlement between retailers and issuing banks. We’re not sure if that’s fair, but we know Canadians are unhappy about it.

And, to top it off, unregulated areas are jumping on the bandwagon. With some of the highest internet prices in the world, we deserve better! It’s time for Telus and other companies to stop taking advantage of consumers and start treating them with the respect they deserve!

CRTC Policies to Improve Competition and Affordability 

So, it turns out that wholesale providers have a lot to offer us Canadians in terms of an extensive range of options to choose from at lower prices. But they’re having a really tough time competing with the big dogs in the industry. Bummer, right?

But wait, there’s hope! This proposed merger thingy could actually give the little guys a chance to play with the big boys. And get this, the competition bureau is keeping a close eye on the whole situation to make sure it’s fair and square.

Philippe Champagne is on our side, folks! He thinks we’re paying too much for our telecom services and not seeing enough competition. We deserve more choices, dang it!

Last year, the government implemented some policies to help us out. They want to give us better consumer rights, internet access, and competition. And they’re not just talkin’ the talk; they’re walkin’ the walk by working to increase access to wholesale internet and promoting competition between providers. That’s what we like to hear!

The only problem is finding the right price point. It’s gotta be just right to motivate the little guys to compete without scaring off the big guys from investing in their infrastructure.

But don’t worry, the government’s got our backs. They’re pushing the CRTC to upgrade their MVNO model so that small internet providers can buy services from giant carriers at wholesale prices and sell them to customers at cost-effective prices. And if that’s what it takes to give us more competition, the CRTC is all for it. So let’s keep our fingers crossed for a brighter, happier telecom future!

Final Thoughts

Telecom in Canada is like a spider web spun by three massive critters. Most other providers tend to get tangled in this web sooner or later, ultimately making this a twisted but effective business model!

The top three telecom companies remain profitable and dominant, while the smaller competitors are left feeling like the kid who gets picked last in dodgeball. Consumers pay a premium, but the level of service they receive varies, like the weather in Vancouver. Although most areas in Canada have access to services, the reality cannot be overlooked that some regions still lack reliable internet connectivity.

Infrastructure policies and changes are being rolled out and put into action, with potential long-term implications for major companies like Telus and Rogers. This will undoubtedly also have significant impacts on your wallet, and in a tight economic environment, every area where the customer can save is important. Customers are, as always, encouraged to check out alternatives and wholesale providers like NetJOI can offer a great bang for your buck.


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