Clarifying the Numbers Game

by Jordan Richardson on August 11, 2010

On August 6, I discussed research by Wireless Intelligence that estimated WIND Mobile would have around 100,000 subscribers. The same research revealed that Mobilicity and Public Mobile, according to Wireless Intelligence’s estimations, hold less than 7,000 subscribers combined.

Iain Grant, managing director of the Seaboard Group, says that Wireless Intelligence’s numbers on Public Mobile and Mobilicity are “ludicrous.” Instead, the Seaboard Group estimates that Public Mobile has roughly 24,000 subscribers and Mobilicity is more in the 36,000 neighbourhood.

So how could there be such a discrepancy in estimates by these two groups?

According to’s assessment of the Wireless Intelligence research, Public Mobile suffers a lack of subscribers because it operates on “less advanced CDMA technology.” With a fleet of competitors having more advanced HSPA+ networks, Public Mobile can’t hang in the popular smart phone market. But the Toronto-based carrier says that the CDMA technology enables them to keep their prices down, creating savings for consumers.

Public Mobile hasn’t said anything about the Wireless Intelligence numbers, but they did tell Mobile Syrup that the digits were way off. In an email to Mobile Syrup, Public Mobile claimed 3,000 subscribers just over a week after launch.

The WIND numbers will be out in the open on Thursday, so some of the questions will be answered in the immediate future. The WIND estimates, generally agreed upon by industry analysts, are largely based on public statements made by the carrier that it had pulled in some 5,000 subscribers in the first two weeks of operation. Orascom Holdings’ deep pockets help matters too.

As to Wireless Intelligence’s Public Mobile and Mobilicity numbers, it’s hard to figure out where they came from. The estimates appear to be largely based on analysis of WIND’s projected numbers and the real numbers from Rogers, Telus and Bell, but it’s anybody’s guess as to where the particulars came from.

With Public Mobile and Mobilicity keeping mum about their numbers, it’s impossible to know for sure. Analysts will keep making predictions based on various data, sure, but how useful these numbers actually are is up for debate. It would seem to me that they provide as much useful information as box office projections, remaining almost entirely pointless but completely entertaining.

NOTE: Please see the response from Will Croft of Wireless Intelligence in the comments below.

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Will Croft August 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Thanks for your interest in our research Jordan. Sadly our analysis was very badly reported compared to the original published data:

What these articles miss (and the tables are cited without indicating) is the fact that the data discussed is for Q2 2010, i.e. end-June 2010. When you consider both Mobilicity and Public launched in May, these figures are for _three weeks_ of operation. As you state yourself, WIND’s figures after a comparable period of two weeks are 5,000 — given WIND’s success, 3,000 for Mobilicity and Public is very easy to see. We also have our own confirmation of this data after three weeks from Mobilicity.

We also didn’t state that CDMA was in any way “less advanced” — the quote given was that the CDMA market is more crowded in Public Mobile’s regions of operation compared to the GSM market for WIND/Mobilicity which has of course opened up given the recent allocation of new spectrum for GSM/WCDMA/HSPA services to compete against Rogers.

So you can see these are very far from “ludicrous” and in no way comparable to SeaBoard’s figures for September — not June.

You’re welcome to contact us on any of these topics (my email address should be available to you with this comment).

Jordan Richardson August 11, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Thanks very much for the clarification. Fully and greatly appreciate it, Mr. Croft.

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