James Moore spectrum announcement hailed as a positive step forward to enable greater wireless choice and lower prices
In response to outcry for Canadians, Industry Canada has taken steps to ensure Canadians have greater access to affordable, independent wireless providers
“This announcement is really positive news for Canadians,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Manager Josh Tabish. “For years now, Canadians have demanded lower prices and a greater variety of independent, affordable mobile options. Today’s announcement provides a strong foundation for catching up to our global counterparts. Recent OECD reports show that a fourth player in national markets can lower costs and improve service for wireless customers.”
Tabish continued, “For years now, we’ve seen Canadians’ access to independent providers blocked or discriminated against because of outdated rules that coddle Canada’s legacy telecom giants. Let’s face it: the Big Three got big because they secured rules that let them block Canadians from new, independent services. But today’s announcement puts us on our way to a level playing field, and should result in lower prices and more choice for Canadians.”
The Big Three cell phone providers are currently blocking Canadians from accessing more affordable independent providers and the auction would help new entrants, such as Wind and Mobilicity, reach customers on a level playing field. Minister Moore also announced positive “use-it-or-lose-it” rules that will prohibit telecom companies from squatting on digital assets to block Canadians from affordable, independent services.
Today’s announcement comes on the heels of a recent CRTC consultation, which stands to improve the burden of costly mobile services on Canadians. In the proceedings, OpenMedia presented a definitive case for fair access rules that would prevent large telecom players from blocking smaller operators to keep wireless prices artificially high. Canadians hope the CRTC will follow Industry Canada’s example, and do its part ensure fair, cost-based rates for smaller providers.
Canadians are calling for more choice, lower prices, and better mobile service at UnblockCanada.ca
Communications Manager, OpenMedia.ca
About OpenMedia’s telecom campaigns
OpenMedia.ca has campaigned for years for action to improve 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.
Recent examples of unfair practices by Canada’s Big Three include:
Suing the government for passing positive customer protection rules.
Blocking Canadian wireless provider Ting from being able to offer affordable services in Canada.
Unleashing a massive misleading PR campaign against greater wireless choice
Engaging in “unjust discrimination” against independent provider Wind Mobile.
Bell’s court challenge against new cellphone roaming and tower-sharing rules to improve choice for Canadians.
CRTC Media Release, July 31: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=872099
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