New cell phone service rules include welcome steps for increased choice but more action required to ensure Canadians can access affordable, independent wireless options
January 10, 2014
Today’s Industry Canada announcement comes just before next week’s announcement of the results of a separate auction of wireless spectrum. Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the industrialized world for cell phone service because the market is dominated by just three giant, unaccountable conglomerates.
“This morning’s announcement contains welcome measures that Canadians have been pushing to achieve for years,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “Despite these welcome steps forward, Minister Moore needs to do much more to ensure all Canadians have access to affordable options outside the Big Three.”
Anderson continued: “OpenMedia has been calling for years for action to address the terrible service rural Canadians have been getting from Big Telecom - and it’s encouraging to finally see the government taking steps to address this problem. However Canadians will be very disappointed that next year’s auction will still enable Big Telecom to gobble up yet more scarce resources that should be set aside for affordable, independent wireless options.”
OpenMedia.ca has been campaigning since 2009 for tougher enforcement mechanisms to stop Big Telecom blocking Canadians’ access to affordable providers. OpenMedia.ca’s crowd-sourced Casting an Open Net and Time for an Upgrade reports both called for determined action to loosen the grip that the Big Three have over Canada’s wireless market.
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.
More Press Releases
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
As MEPs prepare for key vote, German government joins growing criticism of European Commission’s content censorship proposals
September 19, 2017
Contact: Ruth Coustick-Deal