This week, both MTS and Bell launched new Internet plans that were a departure from the status quo — MTS joined its home Internet and wireless data in one plan, while Bell announced a new gigabit Internet service.
In interviews, representatives from the companies said they introduced the new services because, well, the Internet is becoming increasingly important to Canadians and we’re using more and more of it.
“Their applications, their personal content, the information that they’re looking for on the web; it’s just become such an important part of everyday life,” Paul Norris, MTS’ vice-president of brand and consumer marketing said (subs only) regarding the new Total Internet service. It offers both unlimited home Internet at 10 Mbps and wireless data, which has no overage fees, for between $60 for one person to $160 for five.
Bell wouldn’t release pricing for its Gigabit Fibe, which will first be available to about 50,000 homes and businesses in Toronto this summer, later to be extended to 1.1 million, as well as other cities in Quebec, Ontario and Atlantic Canada (essentially, where Bell already has deployed its fibre-to-the-home network). It’s the first big telecom to offer gigabit service, which at 1,000 Mbps is much faster than the average Canadian’s Internet speed (5 and 49 Mbps for downloads and about 1 Mbps for uploads, according to the CRTC).
“Increasingly we see that consumers’ lives revolve around the Internet, and more so in 2015 than ever,” said Nicolas Poitras, vice-president of marketing for Bell’s residential services.
Poitras said Gigabit Fibe would mark a “major shift” in Canadian telecom, while Norris described Total Internet as a “game-changer.” It seems likely we’ll see competitors release interesting offers of their own in the near future.
But MTS’ and Bell’s new services are also symptoms of an ongoing trend toward Internet service becoming telecoms’ core service.
TV watching is moving over-the-top, and the growing popularity of messaging and voice apps and services mean you don’t actually need traditional voice and text or to pay for cable or IPTV service to call your friends or watch TV. Interestingly, voice and text are an optional add-on to MTS’ new service, making it the only Canadian telecom to offer a data-only plan.
So after decades in which these companies moved from a market where Canadians bought their phone service from the phone company and TV from the cable company to competing with each other in the provision of bundled telecom services, it’s all in the process of shrinking down to one battlefield.
In a world where there’s only one product that matters, all our telecom needs will be met by the Internet service provider.
If this week’s announcements are any indication, it’s going to be an interesting transition to watch — especially given that we’ll find out the new battle rules soon, with the CRTC’s release of its decision on the wholesale wireline market.