Government begins to rein in Big Telecom by putting in place caps on roaming and financial penalties to enforce customer protection rules - a good start but further action required, says OpenMedia.ca
December 18, 2013
“This morning’s announcement is welcome news to long-suffering Canadian wireless users, who pay some of the highest prices in the industrialized world for what we all know is horrible and often disrespectful service,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “These new measures are a great start to rein in the power of our price-gouging Big Telecom giants. Finally our out-of-control telecom gatekeepers will have to face penalties for breaking the rules. Big Telecom has deep pockets after price-gouging Canadians for years with near-total impunity - so it’s important that these new financial penalties are large and meaningful, as that’s the only language Big Telecom understands.”
Anderson continued: “Now that the government is taking action to rein in Big Telecom, Canadians will be looking to see our networks fully opened up to ensure that affordable, independent providers can operate on a genuinely level playing field with the Big Three. Big Telecom companies still have other tricks up their sleeve to block Canadians from using independent services and holding back our entire economy in the process.”
“The government has a wired and wireless crowdsourced plan from Canadians that OpenMedia.ca has put out for them. Clearly they are making use of it and I hope to see much more of that. Canadians will be looking at two metrics: Do prices come down and do the big telecom gatekeepers lose serious market share to indie providers. We’ll be watching.”
An infographic charting progress on the citizen agenda for wireless can be found here.
The Big Three currently control over 85% of wireless spectrum (much of it handed to them for virtually free) and 92% of market revenues. This dominance has resulted in Canadians paying some of the highest prices in the industrialized world for cell phone service, as confirmed by independent reports.
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 Manager, 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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