OpenMedia.ca says “backroom deal” will stifle choice in Canadian cell phone market
January 28, 2013
Shaw had acquired the licences by positioning itself as a “new entrant” in the wireless market in 2008. The wireless spectrum auction held by Industry Canada had a stated intent of spurring mobile choice for Canadians by leveling the playing field between big telecom conglomerates (the “big three”) and startup providers. Shaw accessed this key resource at a premium by committing to provide a new mobile option for Canadians, now they are breaking their promise by selling out to Rogers – Canada’s biggest mobile phone and Internet provider.
OpenMedia.ca says that this move will stifle choice in an already monopolistic wireless market. According to the group, the deal also gives big telecom conglomerates more room to raise prices, as the check on the market provided by new entrants diminishes.
The Big Three cell phone companies (Bell, Rogers, and Telus) control nearly 94% of cell phone service, and Canadians pay some of the highest prices for mobile phone service in the industrialized world.
“If this backroom deal goes through, it will kill choice for the future of Internet access and make our lives more expensive,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “Rogers and Shaw are playing games with key public assets, which were promised to create new independent choices for Canadians, not more control for Big Telecom. Industry Minister Paradis should do the right thing and tell Shaw to use this public asset or lose it.”
OpenMedia.ca is providing an online tool where Canadians can call on the Industry Minister block the Shaw-Rogers deal at http://DemandChoice.ca.
OpenMedia.ca is a grassroots organization that safeguards the possibilities of the open and affordable Internet. The group works towards informed and participatory digital policy.
Communications Manager, OpenMedia.ca
- On January 22, OpenMedia.ca joined four other public interest and consumer groups, including the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), in signing a letter asking Paradis to block the deal, stating that the transaction is “in conflict with both the letter and spirit of [Industry Canada’s] rules.”
- In 2009, an OECD study found that Canadians pay some of the highest prices for mobile phone service in the industrialized world. This was corroborated by a 2010 report from the New America Foundation. More recently, another study found that Canada has the highest roaming fees in the industrialized world.
- Recently, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) acknowledged that market forces simply aren’t enough to ensure consumers rights are protected. The Commission used this as a basis to announce the development of a code of conduct for wireless companies.
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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