OpenMedia.ca calls new Industry Canada framework a welcome step, but clear action required to give Canadians access to affordable mobile service
June 28, 2013
OpenMedia.ca says it has also been hearing from Canadian innovators and entrepreneurs frustrated that it is still unclear whether Minister Paradis will apply the new rules to Rogers’ plan to take control of scarce spectrum assets that had been set aside for new entrants. The Rogers takeover plan and the response from the DemandChoice.ca campaign are what prompted these new rules.
OpenMedia.ca believes the Industry Minister must do the right thing and put a stop to the Rogers/Shaw deal. Experts have made clear in a letter to the Industry Minister that there is nothing stopping him from doing so, and Paradis’ earlier comments provided signals that the Minister does not approve of the plan. The continuing uncertainty around the Rogers/Shaw deal is a source of worrying instability in the wireless market.
“Today’s announcement is a good first step towards addressing the past policy neglect in this area, but it is not the bold clear action many were hoping for,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “Up until recently we have seen an incoherent approach from a government that refused to enforce its own rules, and which failed to set aside sufficient spectrum to ensure Canadians have access to quality, affordable wireless options.”
Anderson continued: “To begin to build trust with Canadians, the Industry Minister must now do the right thing and clarify his position on Rogers’ bid to acquire even more of the scarce assets that are desperately needed by independent providers. This deal should not be in limbo considering how important it is to mobile affordability in Canada. I also think it’s clear that the Rogers plan does not meet the requirements laid out in the new rules today so Rogers should do the right thing for everyone and just withdraw the plan themselves.”
“Canadians now deserve to see clear action to open up our nation’s wireless highways, which are currently controlled by unaccountable Big Telecom conglomerates. We would never accept a situation where only certain transport companies get affordable access to Canada’s roads and highways. I hope Industry Minister Paradis has had a chance to read our policy road map from our Time For An Upgrade report as he said he would, and is ready to move on the broader recommendations we’ve put forward.”
Canadians can continue to speak up for genuine 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.
Through campaigns such as StopTheMeter.ca and StopSpying.ca, OpenMedia.ca has engaged over half-a-million Canadians, and has influenced public policy and federal law.
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.
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 – national rules that reign in punitive three-year contracts, enable users to unlock their cell phones after 90 days, set cut-off points for data overage charges, and force carriers to be more transparent in setting out the terms of wireless contracts.
However the CRTC only sets some of Canada’s wireless rules. Canadians are looking to Industry Canada to do its part to fix our broken wireless market, which is 94% dominated by just three large, unaccountable Big Telecom conglomerates.
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.
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