New Wireless Code: Rogers Urges CRTC To Slow Changes

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Rogers is urging the CRTC slow the implementation of its new wireless code. | AP

GATINEAU, Que. — The CRTC is being urged to roll out its proposed wireless code in stages.

Rogers Communications told a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission hearing that while some of the proposed changes can be made swiftly, others could take as long as a year and a half.

The CRTC has suggested all changes could be made in six months.

"There is no reason why at least some of the recommendations could not be implemented in the short term,'' said Ken Engelhart, the company's head of regulations.

"Those changes requiring more significant work can then be allotted additional time.''

The telecom regulator is holding a week of hearings in Gatineau, Que., as it aims to set national standards for the content and clarity of cellphone contracts.

Much of the testimony so far has focused on the length of cellphone contracts, locked devices and roaming and cancellation fees.

On the second day of the hearings, the telecom regulator heard from Telus, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, OpenMedia.ca and academics.

One of the issues under consideration is alerting consumers by text message or other means when they are about to exceed their service plans, which could result in large, unexpected charges.

Rogers executives told the CRTC there are already tools to alert consumers about their usage. The company opposed a proposal to cap additional fees once they reach $50.

Such a cap "creates so many technical and practical problems that it is, with respect, impossible,'' said Raj Doshi, the company's head of products.

"In order to cap a customer's post-paid service, the network must be able to calculate a bill every minute. Post-paid platforms are not designed to do that. Usage is only billed periodically.''

But the academics suggested the issues that have come up at the hearing suggest there's a lack of competition in the marketplace.

Wireless contracts written in clear language are a start, said Catherine Middleton, the Canada Research Chair in Communication Technologies in the Information Society at Ryerson University, but more needs to be done.

"Action is needed beyond informing consumers of the terms of their contracts,'' Middleton said.

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