As Harper is set to unveil ‘consumers first’ agenda in Throne Speech, Canada’s largest civic engagement organization is available for comment
Canadians will be watching closely to see whether the government lives up to their promise to secure more choice and lower prices in broken telecom market
Specifically OpenMedia.ca will be looking to see:
- If Stephen Harper will address the cause of our telecom woes or just the symptoms of our broken telecom market?
- If Stephen Harper will make a clear and firm commitment to stop big telecom incumbents from blocking customer access independent Canadian telecom startups?
Canada’s wired and wireless market is broken, with just three large conglomerates controlling 92% of the wireless market share, resulting in Canadians paying some of the highest prices in the industrialized world for poor service - as confirmed by multiple independent reports.
Recently announced registrations for January’s auction of wireless spectrum indicate that the Big Three are set to consolidate their dominance unless the government takes action.
Over 60,000 Canadians have called on the government to stop big telecom companies from blocking access to affordable, independent providers this year -- with hundreds of thousands speaking out previously. The government’s new agenda is widely considered a response to this public outcry.
At present affordable Canadian providers such as Toronto-based Ting.com can only operate in the U.S. because the Big Three is blocking them from reaching Canadians.
Canadians are therefore calling on the government to prevent the telecoms giants from acting as gatekeepers and blocking Canadians from being able to take advantage of more affordable options. Specifically Canadians are looking to see new rules put in place that would enable affordable providers to reach Canadians providing accessing the networks on the same basis and at the same cost as the big telecom companies.
Over 35 leading Canadian entrepreneurs and innovators recently spoke out to call on the government to prevent the Big Three from blocking independent providers from reaching customers. They say that high cell phone prices are holding back Canadian businesses and stifling job creation and economic development.
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.
See the infographic about OpenMedia.ca’s recent work on telecom issues.
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.
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