Over 28,000 petition signers call for end to Canada’s telecom monopoly
Expensive and unsafe networks require systemic change.
AUGUST 4, 2022 — Today 4 civil society organizations issued a joint statement calling on Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) Minister François-Philippe Champagne to end Canada’s telecom monopolies and guarantee affordable and reliable high-speed Internet for everyone in Canada. The statement comes in response to the 19-hour service outage for Rogers customers on July 8 that left millions of Canadians without basic connectivity.
Civil society petitions calling for the federal government to curb Canada’s telecom monopolies have gathered over 28,000 signatures in the short weeks since the July 8 outage. Key options for reducing telecom monopoly power advocates are saying must be on the table include:
Building a national public competitor to deliver Internet services;
Expanding support for local public ownership of community networks;
Structural separation of telecom companies who own wire and wireless services; and
Mandating telecom network access for small companies to increase competition and drop prices.
Studies have repeatedly confirmed that Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the world for their Internet and cell phone services. In local markets where viable alternatives to the Bell, Telus and Rogers exist, those prices come down.
The impact of concentrated monopoly power in the hands of the Big 3 goes well beyond high prices. It has given Canada a history of shady business practices only partially corrected by government action, and allowed Rogers to build an enormously risky, centralized network whose whole house of cards — cell phone networks, home Internet, and all the services that depend on them — falls when something goes wrong.
Advocates are calling for July’s Rogers outage to be a turning point for Canada. We can no longer afford telecommunications services designed primarily for Rogers, Telus and Bell, with the needs of ordinary Canadians a distant second priority. All eyes will now be Minister Champagne, who bears primary responsibility for taking action to correct our system and guarantee this essential service.
This is not the first time in recent months that advocates have called on the government to rein in telecom giants and stand up for Internet and cell phone competition. Since March 2021, community members from OpenMedia, Leadnow, and other advocacy groups have spoken out over 83,000 times to ask federal policymakers to block the Rogers-Shaw buyout.
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“The July 8 outage highlights how thoroughly our telecom system is failing Canadians. It’s well known that low competition is letting Big Telecom squeeze Canadians for outsized profits; now we know it encouraged them to build a recklessly overly centralized network too. One thing is clear: approving the Rogers-Shaw deal after July 8 would send the message that this kind of catastrophic failure is fine by our government, and they see nothing wrong with forcing more Canadians into a network that has repeatedly failed. But blocking the deal isn’t nearly enough. We need competition law reform to prevent future harmful buyouts, and we need Cabinet and the next CRTC to take a long hard look at what more drastic public interventions could do to ensure this essential service is affordable, fast and reliable for all Canadians.” – Matt Hatfield, Campaigns Director at OpenMedia
“Big Telecom corporations — Rogers, Telus, and Bell — are buying up the competition and forcing us to pay some of the highest telecommunications prices in the world. The outage on July 8th exposed just how fragile our telecoms system is as a result of their monopoly. Many across Canada were unable to work and had payments declined for essential needs like groceries. Some of us couldn’t even call 911 in an emergency. Meanwhile, Rogers’ shareholders and executives are lining their pockets at the expense of unreliable and unaffordable services. That’s why the public is calling on Minister Champagne and the federal government to bust up the telecoms monopoly, and replace it with a publicly-owned cell and internet service for all.” – Simran Ghuman, Campaigner at Leadnow
Leadnow organizes campaigns that build and defend a just, sustainable, and equitable Canada. We help hundreds of thousands of people take action at the times and in the places that matter most by providing non-partisan opportunities for digital and real life democratic engagement.
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