Wireless price hike underlines government’s failure to deliver its promise to lower rates and rein in high-cost Big Telecom giants
Urgent government action required to open networks to ensure Canadians have affordable alternatives to the Big Three providers
“These rate increases fly in the face of government promises to lower wireless prices and improve choice for Canadians. We’re going backwards not forwards,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “It’s yet more evidence that Big Telecom will use any excuse to price-gouge Canadians. Big Telecom’s high-cost burden is holding our country and economy back. They know they can get away with it because Canadians are trapped by our old-fashioned system which allows the Big Three to block us from more affordable alternatives.”
Anderson continued: “Let’s be clear about what’s happening here. Stephen Harper and James Moore have promised lower prices and more choice. Instead the opposite is happening - fees are going up while affordable and independent alternatives are disappearing. We can’t go on like this – we need meaningful action from Industry Minister Moore to stop Big Telecom from blocking independent alternatives. We need to open up our networks by splitting them from the high-cost giants so that every Canadian has an affordable alternative to the Big Three. Without government action, prices are going to keep on increasing.”
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.
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 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.
Communications Manager, OpenMedia.ca
- 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