Government spectrum transfer decision will stop Telus from taking over assets set aside for new affordable mobile services for Canadians
June 4, 2013
The Minister also stated that future spectrum transfers will not be allowed if they result in what he called ‘undue concentration’ – OpenMedia.ca is calling on the Minister to be clearer as to what exactly he means by this. The Minister also postponed this year’s auction of new wireless spectrum until January 2014, to allow market players more time to consider their strategy in light of this morning’s decision.
Wireless spectrum is a highly valuable public asset that enables cell phone providers to provide mobile services. Today’s decision comes in response to OpenMedia.ca’s Demand Choice campaign that involved over 56,000 Canadians across the country. The decision is also in line with recommendations from OpenMedia.ca’s recent Time For An Upgrade report.
OpenMedia.ca believes that while today’s decision is another step in the right direction, clear follow through and additional action will be required to fix Canada’s broken cell phone market. Nearly 94% is controlled by just three companies (Bell, Rogers, Telus). As a result, Canadian cell phone users pay some of the highest prices for some of the worst wireless service in the industrialized world. A recent independent report stated that the cost of wireless service increased by 13% last year, or 13 times the rate of inflation.
“Today’s decision to prevent Big Telecom from taking over resources set aside for new affordable independent telecom services is a welcome step,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “I’m happy to see the government respond to OpenMedia.ca’s campaign that engaged tens of thousands of Canadians across the country. However Canadians deserve more clarity from the Minister as to what he means by ‘undue concentration’—we know from previous experience that Big Telecom will try to exploit any loophole the Minister gives them.”
“In 2007 this government promised to support desperately-needed choice in our cell phone market. The Big Three providers dominate the market due to a long history of regulatory coddling from the government and I hope this is the beginning of the end of that special treatment. We’re hopeful the government will take the next step and tell Rogers it cannot break Industry Canada rules by taking over indie mobile assets.”
Canadians can continue to speak up for genuine independent cell phone choice and affordability in our wireless market by joining the over 56,000 citizens who have signed the petition at http://DemandChoice.ca
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
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 http://StopTheSqueeze.ca, and the CRTC responded by inviting comments on whether the Commission should development national rules for wireless service in Canada. OpenMedia.ca mobilized Canadians to write in and request that the CRTC do just that, noting that any rules should build upon (not erode) frameworks in the provinces of Quebec and Manitoba, as well as on the framework proposed in Private Members Bill 133 in Ontario.
On October 11, 2012 the CRTC announced it would hold a public consultation on national rules for wireless services. It was in response to this that the campaign at http://CellPhoneHorrorStory.ca was launched, in order to give citizens an easy way to make the CRTC aware of the real human consequences of our broken cell phone market.
This resulted in a broadly positive new CRTC Code of Conduct for wireless companies – a Code which reigned in punitive 3-year contracts, enabled users to unlock their cell phones after 90 days, set cut-off points for data overage charges, and forces carriers to be more transparent in setting out the terms of wireless contracts.
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
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.
More Press Releases
Federal Communications Commission votes to repeal Net Neutrality protections that ensure an open and equal Internet
December 14, 2017
Contact: Katy Anderson
November 21, 2017
Contact: Marie Aspiazu
European Parliament’s civil liberties committee strikes blow to dangerous proposals for content censorship
November 20, 2017
Contact: Ruth Coustick-Deal
U.S. District Court defends online free expression and principles of intermediary liability with recent decision
November 3, 2017
Contact: Katy Anderson