Maybe it'll be a big deal when Shaw and Videotron launch, bringing established brands to the market. And maybe it will be a big deal when Wind, Public, and Mobilicity can boast solid, capable networks. And maybe it will be a big deal when Mobilicity expands beyond Toronto (or at least announces real plans to do so).
In the meantime, only Toronto has more than one new entrant in the wireless marketplace at the moment, and the only place that seems imminent to change is Quebec with Videotron. Cities like Halifax, Quebec City, Winnipeg, or Victoria have no new entrants at the moment (unless you count MTS launching their HSPA network).
Right now I think these new networks appeal to four demographics: those who are extremely upset with the incumbents (like me), those who are extremely heavy users, those who are low-income or ultra-cheap, and new Canadians for whom an established brand is meaningless and who are looking for a cheap plan to call overseas. Only one, maybe two, of those demographics are high-value customers anyway.
The idea of students going away to college and getting their first cell phone is laughable, has this reporter never been to a high school? They may get a new handset or their first smartphone but they all have their own cell phones already. It's possible that the switch to a smartphone and the potential need for a long-distance plan might cause them to change providers, but it's not clear if the numbers posted are first cell phones or new to the provider. If it's the latter I'd be interested in seeing how the subscriber cancellations compare.
If the new subscribers are from students starting school it's probably high school students, and if Mom and Dad are paying then they're probably just going to use the provider they get their cell phones from (and likely bundle other services with as well).