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Liberal Party joins NDP, Greens promising to lower cell phone costs

OpenMedia welcomes reports, and the critical attention to the issue of affordability

August 28, 2019 — Yesterday the Liberal Party indicated that it plans to lower cell phone costs. OpenMedia welcomes the attention to this critical issue, which is a significant barrier to connectivity in today’s digital economy.

A cross-party consensus is now forming that action must be taken to address this issue. In June, the NDP released a plan for affordable Internet in Canada, including price caps for both wireline and wireless Internet and greater competition. In August, the Green Party announced that it would also take action to enable new Canadian companies to enter the cell phone market.

“Big Telecom has been gouging people in Canada for far too long and change is long overdue,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matthew Carroll. “We’re glad the Liberals have decided to join the NDP and Greens in committing to take action. The Liberal Party’s promise this week to address the outrageous costs we pay for our cell phones is a step in the right direction, but it remains to be seen what specific commitments they will make in the run up to the October election.”

Details on the Liberal announcement are slim, but the statements made to the media suggest that the Liberals are considering a price cap on cell phone bills or requiring major providers to offer wholesale access to Mobile Virtual Network Operators.

Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) are independent companies that purchase access to existing infrastructure such as cell phone towers, and then sell cell phone plans direct to consumers. Mandating MVNO access for Canada’s wireless sector at fair rates would increase competition, and enable smaller providers to offer more affordable service to Canadians.

The focus on this issue comes at a critical time, as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is currently reviewing our wireless market. If the CRTC rules in favour of MVNOs, that would allow more providers to enter the market, bolstering choice and affordability.

OpenMedia is currently calling on people in Canada to share their experiences with high cell phone costs and poor service with the CRTC as part of its review, and 5,453 people have already taken action at https://openmedia.org/en/betterwireless4all

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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