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Measures to improve Canadians’ access to independent wireless services hailed as a positive step forward, although more will be needed to lower prices and boost choice

Industry Minister James Moore has announced that vital digital assets will be set aside for affordable new entrants in upcoming auction of AWS-3 wireless spectrum. Canadians have been calling for this type of set-aside for years.

“This is a tangible step in the right direction, and it’s great to see Minister Moore taking positive action to improve wireless choice for Canadians,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “Canadians have been calling for years for robust measures to stop Big Telecom from squatting on vital digital assets. While the government still has work to do to rein in Big Telecom, this is a very encouraging development. I hope it’s followed up with more action along the lines of what leading experts and innovators called for in a letter to Minister Moore last year.”

Anderson continued: “In particular, this decision could help indie provider Wind get access to the infrastructure it needs to better service Canadians. The Big Three have used various underhanded tactics to prevent Wind and other indie providers from effectively serving Canadians. Despite this, Wind has attracted over 735,000 customers -- clearly Canadians like what indie providers like Wind are bringing to the table. Big Telecom’s extortionate prices have hurt Canadians and held back our whole economy. That’s why Canadians are turning to more affordable independent providers in increasing numbers. It’s good to see the government removing some of the Big Telecom roadblocks that are preventing Canadians from having the independent wireless choice they deserve.”

The Big Telecom giants currently control over 90% of the wireless market and over 85% of wireless spectrum. They have used this power to keep prices high by blocking Canadians from more affordable providers. Experts say Canadians won’t see a sustained reduction in wireless prices until our networks are fully opened up to ensure all providers can operate on a level playing field.

Canada’s Big Three recently raised their already-high prices by a hefty $5 a month, sparking outrage from Canadians tired of having no alternative to Big Telecom.

Over 70,000 Canadians have spoken out to call for lower prices and greater telecom choice using OpenMedia.ca’s online tools at https://OpenMedia.ca/gatekeepers and http://DemandChoice.ca

About OpenMedia.ca

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.

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 telecom 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.



David Christopher
Communications Manager, OpenMedia.ca
[email protected]

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