United States International Access Internet Choice & Affordability Wireless Free & Open Internet

MEDIA ADVISORY: Wireless Spectrum Auction registration deadline is 12 noon (ET) Tuesday September 17th, OpenMedia.ca available to comment

With the Big Three already controlling 85% of usable wireless spectrum, citizens are hoping that independent Canadian-based providers register to participate despite the cards being stacked against them

Independent operator Wind along with Eastlink have just confirmed that will take part in high stakes auction and the Big Three (Bell, Telus, Rogers) are also expected to register today. Despite a large campaign asserting Verizon was to take part in the auction the US-based telecom provider recently announced it will not do so.

Citizens will be watching closely to see which wireless providers register to take part in the auction. At present, it looks like the Big Three incumbents are in position to continue to control the vast major of Canada’s spectrum assets after the auction. The Big Three already hold 85% of Canadian wireless spectrum and control 93% of Canada’s cell phone revenues.

More affordable, independent wireless providers will need access to spectrum - a scarce public asset required to deliver cell phones service - to be able to offer more choice to Canadians.

The government put a cap on the amount of spectrum the Big Three can obtain in the auction. The cap does not apply to new entrants including investors from outside of Canada that invest in growing a new provider starting at 10% market share or less. The cap makes available far less spectrum for Canadian startup providers than experts recommended. The Big Three cell phone providers (Bell,Telus, Rogers) have nevertheless engaged in a massive PR campaign to reverse the rules. The government has held firm and maintained the cap in order to support more cell phone choice for Canadians.

Despite the spectrum cap, the Big Three are poised to continue to control most the country’s spectrum after the January’s auction. Tens of thousands of Canadians are calling on the government to take the next step take reasonable action to open our networks so that Canadians can enjoy unrestricted access to more affordable, independent Canadian providers.

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 growth.

The deadline for receipt of applications to participate in the auction and 5% of the pre-auction financial deposits is 12 noon (ET) on Tuesday September 17, 2013.

Bidding for the auction commences on January 14, 2013.


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.

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.

For more information, please contact:

Noushin Khushrushahi, 604-633-2744, n[email protected]

Details can also be found at http://openmedia.ca and http://DemandChoice.ca

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. Take action now

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