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  #1  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2016, 5:48 PM
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SaskTel - Potential sale a possibility?

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Originally Posted by Festivus View Post
Wasn't sure where to post this, but Brad Wall is now openly musing about selling Sasktel, going as far as appointing a new minister who he thinks would be best able to handle offers and negotiations (and PR): http://leaderpost.com/news/politics/...ktel-to-public

I am very much against this. While I do have some ideological opposition to government competing with private interests in some areas of society, telecommunications and internet have been 2 areas where history has shown conclusively that government does it better, and cheaper. Not only that, but having an independent large player in Saskatchewan forces Rogers and Bell and Telus to be more honest with their rates. Wall says that it would help "solve" the jobs situation in Regina, but it would likely do the opposite. Sasktel is fairly bloated as telecoms go, and there's no way Bell or Rogers would keep all the jobs here, or even keep all the jobs in general.

On the face of it you'd think the argument to sell would be defeated quite easily...but never underestimate the stupidity of people in large numbers. I've heard people say things like "Rogers and Bell have better plans in Saskatchewan than Sasktel, so why not sell Sasktel anyway?" Well the reason these companies have these better rates sometimes is because Sasktel is forcing them to compete. Reality shows that in markets where the big 3 dominate, they form a collusive cartel where rates are raised and fixed. We literally pay 1/2 the amount as Ontarians for many cell and internet services. The only other province with rates close to ours is Quebec because of Videotron being in the market.

Sasktel is the last bastion against Robellus dominating Canada, and I hope public outcry prevents it. There are arguments for selling some crowns, but of the big 4 (which I think all serve the province well), Sasktel makes the least amount of sense to sell, perhaps tied with SGI.
I do not disagree with your comments about rates and jobs, but I think the most important consideration is the $3B or so we have at risk in this company. Is it worth $12,000 for a family of 4 to have a little better cell phone rates and some cushy jobs in Regina? That is an oversimplification, but you see my point. There is also the consideration of the loss of the large dividend SaskTel pays, but that may be at risk anyway.
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  #2  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2016, 6:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormer View Post
Is it worth $12,000 for a family of 4 to have a little better cell phone rates and some cushy jobs in Regina?
Yes. All the time yes.
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  #3  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2016, 6:44 PM
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I would agree that SaskTel is the reason why we have lower phone and data rates in Saskatchewan than just about anywhere else in Canada. That competition factor simply can't be underestimated.

I think what irks me the most about this is Premier Wall's implication that he would use a potential sale of SaskTel as a quick fix for the government's operating deficit. No, Mr. Wall, your government got into this mess by itself. When times were good, the Saskatchewan Party could have chosen to cap general spending by the rate of inflation, and treat extra resource revenues as a one-time thing, spending it on similar one-time infrastructure investments. But instead, spending as a whole ballooned, and to make things worse, the government is now borrowing money it doesn't have in order to fund further infrastructure improvements. Sorry, Mr. Premier, the choices of you and your party got us into this deficit situation. Please don't insult the residents of Saskatchewan by suggesting the possible sale of a Crown corporation to "eliminate our operating debt". How about you just get out of this the old-fashioned way: by reducing spending and/or raising revenue, and by not borrowing more money than you need to?
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  #4  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2016, 6:58 PM
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I don't think enough can be said regarding the important linkage between the Crown Corporations and employment opportunities across Saskatchewan.

I imagine that the sale of any of them would be quickly followed by a loss of jobs throughout the province, and most notably in Regina. I would suspect that would be a pretty poor result in a Province that does not have the luxury of a diverse economy. Opportunities are limited in Saskatchewan - couple that in with the fact that the economy is heavily reliant on continued demand of finite resources (oil/gas, uranium, potash).

I think selling off any of them is terribly shortsighted with little to gain.
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  #5  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2016, 7:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormer View Post
I do not disagree with your comments about rates and jobs, but I think the most important consideration is the $3B or so we have at risk in this company. Is it worth $12,000 for a family of 4 to have a little better cell phone rates and some cushy jobs in Regina? That is an oversimplification, but you see my point. There is also the consideration of the loss of the large dividend SaskTel pays, but that may be at risk anyway.
A little better rates? Saskatchewan residents pay half the rates for similar plans in other provinces. We also have the best coverage (despite having the lowest population density), and Sasktel still manages to make a profit and contributes to the government coffers every year. All while paying their employees more than most other Telcos (most of which stays right in the province)

So yeah... it's worth it.
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  #6  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2016, 8:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Festivus View Post
The only other province with rates close to ours is Quebec because of Videotron being in the market.
And Manitoba (for now) because MTS is in the market. Bell/Telus/Rogers' rates in Manitoba are virtually identical to their rates in Sask. THeir rates in Quebec are actually a bit higher than in SK/MB... but still head & shoulders cheaper than in any other province in Canada (Viedotron doesn't have the market clout that SaskTel & MTS do).

Agree with your points, I've ranted exhaustively about this before. I moved back to Sask from Ontario & couldn't believe how much cheaper my mobile plan is... exactly the same features - and even some extras - costs me well over half what it did in Ontario. And I've got better coverage.

And I'm not even a fan of SaskTel in many other ways (I don't find they're particularly innovative anymore; they do seem bloated; excessive fees for call-outs, service moves, etc; they've played fast & loose with customer privacy in the past;...), but I'd keep them public just to keep the Rogers/Telus/Bell oligopoly at bay.
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  #7  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2016, 8:23 PM
WhitmorePark WhitmorePark is offline
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Agree with almost all of the above, and on top of all of that they do not cap home internet usage at all which is a massive benefit (which nearly all private companies do at ridiculously low volumes). They may need tweaks in certain areas, but it will never make sense to get rid of them to mitigate the damage to the Provinces books for a short while.
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  #8  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2016, 8:29 PM
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This should be an interesting referendum. Based on the responses here, the Yes side will have a tough go, in Regina at least. I suppose you never know how the Gov't might package this to sell to voters.
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  #9  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2016, 9:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormer View Post
This should be an interesting referendum. Based on the responses here, the Yes side will have a tough go, in Regina at least. I suppose you never know how the Gov't might package this to sell to voters.
I am typically a Sask Party supporter but I would vote against privatizing Sasktel loudly. I don't know many people who would vote to sell it.
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  #10  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2016, 9:38 PM
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I can't see anyway a Bell or Rogers keeps the same jobs here. Oh, it will be sold that way but in reality there is no way for that to happen. That is where the whole cost saving and justification for buying by a large telco would come from. I'm not a Sasktel customer in any market as I've been put off by them any time that I have comparison shoped but I also realize the benefit they provide to the cost of my various plans with other providers and all the head office jobs that exist in Sask.
There has been a lot of cross subsidization from urban customers to provide services to rural and northern customers at discounted rates - this all ends with a major telco. The government would lose an instrument for providing basic services in remote areas.

Appart from the short term immediate bag of money that come to the government....I don't see any benefits to this at all. This better go to referendum or there will be pitchforks.
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  #11  
Old Posted Aug 24, 2016, 9:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormer View Post
This should be an interesting referendum. Based on the responses here, the Yes side will have a tough go, in Regina at least. I suppose you never know how the Gov't might package this to sell to voters.
You can count on the use of so called "independent" industry analysts that are highly biased and know where their bread gets buttered. Expect lots of disinformation.
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  #12  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2016, 12:24 AM
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I seem to recall not that long ago Brad Wall bragging out how they were going to bring a bunch of head offices to Saskatchewan. I remember thinking at the time good luck with that. I think he had delusions that he was going to lure a bunch of oil firms from Alberta. Now he wants to sell off Sasktel, one of the few heads offices the province has so he can pay down the debt? I work for one of the crowns and they hire a lot of skilled, well paid professionals, engineers, accountants, IT professionals etc. If a Bell or Telus bought out Sasktel a lot of those jobs would either be eliminated or amalgamated in a head office in Toronto or Vancouver. So not sure what jobs situation he would be fixing, he'd be eliminating jobs not creating them. People outside of Regina may not care about that, but this would be a bad result for Regina in my opinion.
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  #13  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2016, 3:20 PM
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A little story:

My Mom, who lives in Regina was visiting in Medicine Hat and was at the mall there. She walked by the Telus counter and thought she'd inquire as to what it would cost to change her cell service over to Telus. The guy gave her a few quotes and then asked where she lived. When she said Regina, the guy said, 'Oh, that's a whole different story, we could give you a much better rate there.' She asked him why to which he stated that they have to slash their rates in Saskatchewan to be competitive with SaskTel. At that, she decided not to change her coverage.

The government is going to package this as wiping out the debt, but the cost is way to high for both consumers and jobs in Regina and across the province. In the end, the debt won't be paid down anyways as the government is saddled with billions of 'other' debt through P3's and infrastructure.

Bad, bad idea.
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  #14  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2016, 3:26 PM
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I'd expect a huge misinformation campaign as well, centered around a few things:

1) Bag of money (ignoring long-term dividends we'd lose out on)
2) Keeping competitive rates (which they won't)
3) Leveraging national network of whomever buys them (we already get roaming)
4) Keeping head office jobs (which will, at the very least, be eliminated through attrition and replaced with lower-paying jobs in other places)
5) Same strong rural service (no way, no money in it)
6) Sasktel won't be able to keep up with infrastructure investments (no sign of this)

This will, as stated above, be confirmed by "independent experts" and think-tanks.

There is also no way in hell they will run a referendum on the issue as it would cost tens of millions of dollars. Instead, they will make it a major plank in the next election. To scare people into voting for them, they will say stuff like "okay, so maybe you don't 100% agree on our Sasktel sale...but the alternative is an NDP government, and you don't want that." That may work with a large swath of the electorate, especially rural and suburban.

In addition, all 3 national carriers will be in favour of the sale, even if they aren't the ones buying Sasktel, as it will allow all of them to jack up rates here. CTV and Global are also owned by these companies, so you can expect them to take the side of selling in terms of soft coverage of the issue.

If there was a credible and strong NDP opposition (or credible Liberal Party waiting in the wings) this wouldn't be an issue...but there isn't. The NDP needs to get a heavyweight in for their next leader, but I don't think it will happen. I really wish the Liberals still existed here and were a credible alternative.
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  #15  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2016, 4:56 PM
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The potential sale of SaskTel is an issue worth discussing, but maybe it should be moved to its own thread (similar to the one for the Bell purchase of MTS) since the topic doesn't really relate to construction in Regina. Cyro, would you mind helping us out with this?
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  #16  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2016, 7:43 PM
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I agree with selling sasktel. Bloaded public sector company. 4100 employees. With 1000 of those being managers. The taxpayer has 100% exposed liability. With Telus and Bell fighting for market share we are in a good position to get top dollar. 4-5 billion.

Also as a side note: Saskatchewan has a dept/gdp ratio of around 7-8%. For all those people crying about our finances. We're in pretty good shape overall.
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  #17  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2016, 7:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Festivus View Post
In addition, all 3 national carriers will be in favour of the sale, even if they aren't the ones buying Sasktel, as it will allow all of them to jack up rates here. CTV and Global are also owned by these companies, so you can expect them to take the side of selling in terms of soft coverage of the issue.
Global isn't owned by Bell, Telus or Rogers.

Corus owns Global... though Corus has a comfortable relationship with Shaw (it isn't owned by Shaw, though), I would hardly call Shaw's Wind Mobile a major player.

Your points are well-taken, though.
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  #18  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2016, 8:49 PM
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Originally Posted by wacko View Post
The potential sale of SaskTel is an issue worth discussing, but maybe it should be moved to its own thread (similar to the one for the Bell purchase of MTS) since the topic doesn't really relate to construction in Regina. Cyro, would you mind helping us out with this?

Sorry for the delay in response, but a great idea. Discussion continues from Stormers last response

EDIT: lol..If your wondering Storm, I started the thread with you as the OP..
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Last edited by Cyro; Aug 25, 2016 at 9:11 PM. Reason: Clarification Added..
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  #19  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2016, 8:49 PM
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Originally Posted by micheal View Post
I agree with selling sasktel. Bloaded public sector company. 4100 employees. With 1000 of those being managers. The taxpayer has 100% exposed liability. With Telus and Bell fighting for market share we are in a good position to get top dollar. 4-5 billion.

Also as a side note: Saskatchewan has a dept/gdp ratio of around 7-8%. For all those people crying about our finances. We're in pretty good shape overall.
While it's true they are bloated, we are not paying extra for those employees, in fact we are paying less for our cell rates and internet than anywhere in Canada for the same service. I'd rather pay lower rates and have better paid employees here in the province (where the money is spent) rather than pay more, and have that money leave the province.

Sasktel also pays annual dividends to the government, something we would lose long-term.

Can you espouse on your belief that selling them would be a net benefit to the province overall, long-term? Or is it more of an ideological position?
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  #20  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2016, 8:51 PM
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My condolences... We will all be at the mercy of corporate rug headed Toronto business jerks.
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