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Canada’s cell phone market in trouble as independent providers prepare to be absorbed by the Big Three

This also comes at a time where Canada’s largest independent provider, Wind Mobile, is reportedly up for sale, as is the only other major independent provider, Public Mobile.

This development comes on the heels of an announcement from Rogers, which signals that the incumbent provider intends to break Industry Canada rules by obtaining scarce wireless spectrum infrastructure that was set aside for independent wireless providers. So far the government has refused to enforce the rules, creating turmoil in the wireless industry.

The Big Three cell phone companies (Bell, Rogers, and Telus) control nearly 94% of cell phone service, and due to this Canadians pay some of the highest prices for mobile phone service in the industrialized world. In addition to being price-gouged, according to OpenMedia.ca’s recent report, Time For An Upgrade, Canadians already face systemic mistreatment from cell phone companies.

“It’s baffling that the government will not stand up for Canadians and enforce its own rules,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “As the government continues to coddle Big Telecom, indie providers are being sent a message that it’s time to give up.”

Anderson continues: “This is further evidence that the Industry Minister needs to take bold action—not half-measures—to fix our broken cell phone market and ensure that independent providers have the resources they need to provide Canadians with the choice we need. The government’s digital policy is incoherent and Canadians are literally paying the price for it.”

As quoted by The Globe And Mail, Drew McReynolds, an analyst with RBC Dominion Securities Inc., wrote in a research note on Wednesday that “We see the Canadian wireless sector at a crossroad,” and noted that we could see “ new wireless entrants get consolidated by one or more of the three large wireless incumbents.”

Over 33,000 Canadians have already spoken out to demand choice in Canada’s cell phone market at http://DemandChoice.ca.

About OpenMedia.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.

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, 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.

OpenMedia.ca highlighted Canadians’ stories in a crowdsourced submission to the CRTC, and has now released a report detailing their findings and recommendations.



Lindsey Pinto
Communications Manager, OpenMedia.ca
[email protected]


Mobilicity and Wind launched operations following Industry Canada’s 2008 spectrum auction, which set aside prime spectrum for new entrants with the intention of promoting choice in the wireless market. However for the upcoming auction of 700 MHz spectrum—a key resource for offering wireless Internet—Industry Canada did not use the set-aside framework, opting instead for an alternative framework that the independent providers and OpenMedia.ca warned would not go far enough.

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. Take action now

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