Government is right to block Telus takeover of Mobilicity, but much more needs to be done to rein in Big Telecom
Citizen-backed OpenMedia.ca says Canadians will welcome moves to stop Big Telecom narrowing their wireless choices yet further, but action still needed to fix broken market
Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the industrialized world for cell phone service, as confirmed by independent reports. These high prices are the result of a broken wireless market, in which just three giant conglomerates control over 85% of spectrum and 92% of wireless revenues.
“This is a welcome step, but much more needs to be done to fix our broken market to ensure Canadians get the lower prices and greater choice they deserve,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “The government has got to take measures to stop Big Telecom from blocking Canadians from accessing affordable independent telecom services. We can’t go on with an outdated, high-cost system that is holding back our whole economy.”
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, StopSpying.ca, and DemandChoice.ca OpenMedia.ca has engaged over half-a-million Canadians, and has influenced public policy and federal law.
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 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
- 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/