Canadian innovators and entrepreneurs urge Industry Minister to take action to fix our broken cell phone market
September 6, 2013
The group, which brings together over 35 of the foremost innovators and job-creators in Canada’s digital economy, points out that affordable wireless access is essential if Canada is to foster a culture of digital innovation. They remind the Minister that, because over 93% of the market is controlled by just three giant conglomerates, Canadians pay some of the highest costs for some of the worst cell phone service in the industrialized world.
“As business people who are proud to contribute to a robust economy, we feel that affordable mobile access is necessary to drive our country forward” says 20 year startup veteran, serial entrepreneur and internet pioneer Michael Tippett. He continued, “We appreciate that Minister Moore has held the line and stood up to the Big Three’s misleading PR campaign. Now it’s time to move forward to deliver choice and affordability for Canadians. We are joining with OpenMedia.ca and over 60,000 Canadians to call on the government to create regulatory symmetry between old telecom providers and new startups.”
Elliot Noss, President and CEO of Tucows said, "There is important innovation and creation occurring within the mobile space. We’re excited by the opportunities presented by this revolution, but find those opportunities to be extremely limited in Canada. Because Canada’s big three incumbent telecom firms operate as unfriendly gatekeepers we’ve been unable to bring our mobile business to Canada. In their recent campaign against Verizon, the incumbent telecom networks admitted, in fact stressed, that the networks were built with taxpayer money. It follows then that open access should be available. We strongly feel that the Canadian government and telecom industry needs to open new avenues for businesses to innovate."
Steve Anderson, Executive Director of OpenMedia.ca, says: "While Industry Canada's new rules protecting the takeover of scarce wireless assets to Big Telecom are a step in the right direction, they don’t go far enough. We still have a tilted playing field in favour of the the Big Three, and we still have providers like Toronto-based Ting blocked from reaching Canadians entirely. I’m thrilled to see innovators and job-creators join our call for Canadian choice. Let’s pull out the roadblocks for the innovative services Canadians deserve.”
Canadians and businesses can continue to speak up for genuine independent cell phone choice and affordability in our wireless market by joining the over 60,000 citizens who have signed the petition at http://DemandChoice.ca
Businesses, entrepeneurs and innovators are invited to join the group at http://openmedia.ca/innovators
The below-mentioned people are available on Monday 9 Sep to speak to the media upon request:
About Elliot Noss
Elliot is CEO of Tucows. Tucows challenged how software was distributed in the 1990s and how domain names were offered and managed in the 2000s and is challenging how mobile phone service is provided today.
For nearly twenty years, Elliot has loved and championed the Internet as the greatest agent of positive change the world has ever seen. Through his role at Tucows, his involvement in ICANN and his personal efforts, he has lobbied, agitated and educated to promote this vision and protect an Open Internet around the world.
Elliot has been sitting in the same chair at Tucows for over fifteen years and finds every year more exciting than the previous!
About Philip Djwa
Agentic is led by founder Phillip Djwa. Phillip is a certified Internet Marketing specialist and strategist with 20 years experience in the high-technology industry. During this time, Phillip has worked on a wide range of technology and web-integrated communications projects for Fortune 500 companies, high-tech start-ups, and not-for-profit organizations. He is an active speaker in both technology, digital media and the future of work.
A career-long social entrepreneur, Phillip has provided support to many worthwhile community initiatives, including the First People’s Heritage Council, Friends of Chamber Music, and the First Nations Technology Council. Phillip has a BA from Simon Fraser University in Fine Arts with a concentration in electronic music, and an MFA in Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York.
About Michael Tippett
Michael Tippett is a 20 year startup veteran, serial entrepreneur and internet pioneer. He is a 2-time Emmy nominee and has been a successful entrepreneur for almost two decades, founding and managing several startups in New York and Vancouver. In 2005 he founded NowPublic, which was named as one of the top five most useful new sites on the web by The Guardian, and as one of the Top 50 Websites for 2007 by Time Magazine. He is currently helping to support the startup community in Vancouver and is Director of New Products at Hootsuite.
Michael is a member of the University of British Columbia’s School of Journalism Advisory Board, Capilano University, Bachelor of Professional Communication Advisory Committee and also a board member of CABINET, a Vancouver-based arts organization.
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.
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
- See also - 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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