By Josh Tabish
May 16, 2014
OpenMedia original article
Big Telecom’s price-gouging: uniting Canadians since 1880
While the proposal is a step in the right direction, Canadians remain a long ways from the wireless choice and affordability they deserve. Despite promises from Industry Minister James Moore and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to rein in the Big Three’s out-of-control price-gouging, we’ve seen very little concrete action on this file. While increasing wireless choice and affordability has been a cornerstone of the government’s agenda, there have been a number of recent events that suggest bold action is needed.
Let’s run through a handful:
- Recent price hikes across the board. The motion comes on the heels of a recent $5 per month increase across the Big Three providers. While there is certainly no law against coincidence, the sudden jump in pricing for all major carriers caused many in the OpenMedia community to wonder where our leaders were on their promise to improve the wireless state of affairs in Canada, asking: “OK, who’s running the show here: Big Telecom, or the government?”
- The failure to create a $5.27 billion digital endowment. On April 2nd, our government came into a digital windfall of $5.27 billion from the sale of highly-sought after 700mhz spectrum. Rather than making a commitment to invest money earned on the sale of public digital assets such as this spectrum, the money will go straight into government coffers. Now, a reasonable society should approach the management of public resources – like spectrum – in the best interests of all Canadians. This is what Canadians expect. Instead, we are seeing no significant re-investment in our aging networks, to get us up to on par with our global counterparts in terms of cost, speed or affordability. (To speak out on this, head over to OpenMedia.ca/Endowment and tell Minister Moore not to squander our digital assets).
- Canada’s long-awaited digital strategy was a clunker. After going through 3 Ministers of Industry, 4 years of delays, and consultation data that’s nearly 5 years old, Canada finally delivered a digital strategy. The result? A digital strategy that reads like the digital strategy for the past 5 years - not the next 5 years. Despite identifying high-costs as a barrier and projecting huge increases in the needs of Canadian mobile users, no forward-looking strategy has clearly emerged.
- Big Telecom is discriminating against mobile Internet services. The CRTC still has to decide whether to preserve a neutral mobile Internet for the benefit of all Canadians, or allow Big Telecom to wrap their tentacles around yet another part of the Canadian media sphere. Complaints to the CRTC initiated by ordinary citizens have shown Big Telecom to be restricting mobile video services in favor of their own content. Decision-makers need to stand up for the open Internet across all platforms, and not let Big Telecom turn our smartphones into a dumb TV.
While cross-partisan support for an investigation into the impacts of high wireless rates is a positive sign for Canadians, we still have a long way to go. Half-measures aren’t working now, and we guarantee they will not work going forward.
Elsewhere, Industry Minister Moore has promised to change the rules around roaming rates so that Canadians can have access to more affordable, independent options like Wind Mobile instead of being trapped by the price-gouging Big Three. However, we’ll have to wait until this legislation is on the table before we decide whether we’ve seen anything that convinces us the government is making a start on delivering its promise to improve choice and affordability.
In the meantime, we encourage all Canadians to tell Minister Moore: Rein in Big Telecom at OpenMedia.ca/Gatekeepers
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