Big Three poised to take majority of wireless spectrum - govt action needed now to stop telecoms from blocking Canadians' access to new providers, says OpenMedia.ca
September 23, 2013
Despite a recent misleading and ineffective PR campaign by Rogers, Bell and Telus designed to drum up fear that Verizon may start up a new cell phone service in Canada, none of the major US-based telecom providers have registered for auction.
“Today’s news shows that Canada is still moving in the wrong direction, despite tens of thousands of Canadians speaking out for lower prices and authentic choice,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. Canadians have been speaking out about the Big Three’s misleading PR campaign, and now that we know Verizon is not taking part in the auction, we know for sure the campaign was over-the-top and dishonest.”
Anderson continued: “Canadians are grateful that the Industry Minister James Moore held firm against the Big Three’s dishonest PR campaign this summer. Minister Moore says he wants to see more choice and lower prices. To keep to his word Moore will need to take action to stop the Big Three from blocking our access to independent providers. Canadians know that it’s fair rules not foreign investment that will fix our broken telecom market. Big Telecom will just keep price-gouging Canadians and holding back our economy unless the government takes reasonable action to open our networks to new affordable, independent Canadian providers.”
Earlier this year Canadians developed a roadmap to fix our broken cell phone market. A group of over 45 leading Canadian entrepreneurs and innovators sent the Industry Minister a letter asking the government to enforce cost-based wholesale access and resale roaming - measures that would allow new, innovative providers to enter the market without needing to create redundant wireless infrastructure.
Over 60,000 Canadians are speaking out for open networks, lower prices, and authentic choice at https://DemandChoice.ca. Last week thousands of Canadians began sending Industry Minister Moore an open letter that can be found at: http://openmedia.ca/gatekeepers
OpenMedia.ca is a network of people and organizations working to safeguard the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy.
Through campaigns such as StopTheMeter.ca, StopSpying.ca, and DemandChoice.ca OpenMedia.ca has engaged over half-a-million Canadians, and has influenced public policy and federal law.
About the Demand Choice campaign
The Demand Choice campaign was launched to pressure decision-makers to take action for greater choice and lower prices in Canada’s cell phone market. Early in 2012 OpenMedia.ca launched a campaign decrying the price-gouging poor customer service and lack of choice in the cell phone market at StopTheSqueeze.ca.
OpenMedia.ca then highlighted Canadians’ Cell Phone Horror Stories in a crowdsourced submission to the CRTC, and released a citizen-driven report entitled ‘Time for an Upgrade’ detailing their findings and recommendations.
This citizen pressure resulted in a broadly positive new set of customer-friendly rules for wireless companies – national rules that reign in punitive three-year contracts, make it easier to switch to a new affordable provider, and impose caps on data roaming fees.
The Big Three cell phone providers recently unleashed an expensive PR campaign to mislead cell phone users. Canadians took to the Internet to ridicule and debunk the Big Three’s claims in a wide variety of ways - speaking out on reddit and on Facebook, and even creating parody websites, parody videos on YouTube and parody accounts on Twitter. We’ve also seen citizen-produced op-eds appear in newspapers across the country, taking the Big Three to task for their years of terrible customer service.
Over 60,000 Canadians have now participated in the Demand Choice campaign, with more standing up for wireless choice and affordability every day.
Communications Coordinator, OpenMedia.ca
- In 2007 the Conservative government made a promise to reserve key spectrum assets for new entrants. Source: Reuters
- The Conservative government’s 2011 platform promised “to increase competition and choice and to lower costs for wireless consumers”. Source: Conservative Party 2011 Platform, page 15
- For an explanation of why your high cell phone bill has nothing to do with Canada's size, check out this article by OpenMedia.ca's Catherine Hart.
- Industry Canada clearly stated that only "new entrants" were eligible for the AWS wireless spectrum set aside in 2008. Industry Canada further stated that “changes made after the application deadline which create an Association with another applicant are not permitted, and any applicant who has formed such an Association will be disqualified from participating in the auction.” Source: Industry Canada
- Canada’s wireless industry is overwhelmingly dominated by Bell, Telus, and Rogers. Source:The Globe and Mail
- Recent independent reports confirm that Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the world for cell phone service. Source: OECD 2013 Communications Outlook
- Ben Klass: “I am Canadian, a reply to Bell’s Open Letter”
- Background on Spectrum. Source: Public Interest Advocacy Centre
- Citizen-driven websites speaking out against Big Telecom’s claims: http://four4canada.ca/ and http://realfairforcanada.ca/
OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet.
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