To help ensure that Internet users' voices are heard, your team at OpenMedia.ca have put together a question-by-question readers' guide to the CRTC's Choicebook survey. We hope you find it useful, and encourage you to take a few moments to prevent the CRTC from going in the wrong direction.
Will the government cave under this pressure? We're hoping they won't -- after all, they've made a clear promise to Canadians to lower prices, a promise underlined personally by Prime Minister Harper at his party's convention last fall. We intend to hold the government to its promises. But already there are worrying signs, with Industry Minister Moore seemingly changing his tune.
It's no wonder that so many Canadians are speaking out about the state of our broken wireless market. We pay some of the highest prices in the industrialized world for often terrible cell phone service. Thankfully it looks like decision-makers are finally starting to take notice.
One of the things we at OpenMedia.ca have been calling for is for wireless companies like Ting to be able to reach Canadians just like indie ISPs like Distributel, Acanac, Start or Teksavvy, just to name a few, do for wired Internet. At the moment Canadians are blocked by the Big Three from using Ting, which I think is wrong.
As of yesterday, our hard-won new cell phone customer protection rules go into effect for all new cell phone contracts/sales. The new rules, which were announced by the CRTC (Canada's telecom policy-maker) in June, apply right across Canada, so cell phone users from coast to coast to coast will benefit. These new cell phone customer protection rules will not be enough to rein in Canada's Big Telecom giants, but this is a step in the right direction.
Because Canadians spoke out and demanded change we've forced decision-makers to sit up and take notice. All Canadians will benefit from the federal rules introduced in June, and residents of Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Nova Scotia can also now rely on strong provincial legislation to protect their customer rights.
Canada's wireless market has taken another step backwards. Yesterday, telecom giant Telus announced it has bought out Public Mobile, a small independent carrier with 280,000 customers in Quebec and Ontario. Our wireless market is already highly concentrated, with just three giant conglomerates controlling over 92 per cent of revenues.
Minister Moore has promised Canadians that he will fix our broken wireless market -- his own department's website promises "more choice." But "more choice" is the last thing that will happen if we let Big Telecom get special access to investment at the expense of Canadian startup providers.
The CRTC and the government should stop playing whack a mole and fully open up our networks by splitting them from Big Telecom control so Canadians can access all providers on an equal basis. We've seen again and again how Big Telecom will take any chance they can to mistreat and price-gouge Canadians, and it's time to make some common sense reforms.
We have just received word that the federal Court of Appeal has officially granted Big Telecom permission to take Canada to court over new customer-friendly rules laid out in June by the CRTC. This means that Canada's three Big Telecom giants will appear before one of our highest courts and attempt to overturn important parts of the CRTC's new rules for your cell phone service.
There "is merit to the arguments raised by Sun News," the CRTC conceded, namely the network's idea that Canadians need their news "to come from a variety of independent sources." As a result, the CRTC now plans to spend the fall debating a couple reforms that would fundamentally rejigger the rules governing how Canadian cable companies are permitted to sell and broadcast news channels in general. For a network that never stops bragging about wanting to "change Canadian television as we know it," that's not a bad legacy to leave -- even if it wasn't intentional.
Judging by the remarkable grassroots response from Canadians, it's clear that Big Telecom has totally misjudged the national mood. They're wasting millions on misleading propaganda and expensive ads that almost nobody believes. Canadians are uniting against the lies of Big Telecom in a big way, and the results have been spectacular.
At first sight, the reaction of the three big players to Verizon's possible entry onto the Canadian market seems to be another illustration of their tendency to quash competition. A casual observer might be tempted to think that they're trying to secure government protection against a new player that poses a real threat to their market shares. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This week the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development confirmed what Canadians have been saying for years: that we pay some of the highest prices for some of the worst cell phone service in the industrialized world.
Even after the CRTC and Industry Canada announcements, Canadians are still stuck with a broken wireless market, 94 per cent dominated by just three unaccountable Big Telecom conglomerates. It's become increasingly clear that Canadians need a long-term solution rather than a failed piecemeal approach.
Every Canadian who has signed up to a cell phone contract in the last year, or who intends to sign one before December, will be forced to remain in that contract beyond June 2015, or pay a hefty cancellation fee. As we move forward to fix our broken cell phone and telecom market we recommend Canadians hold off until December to get a new cell phone to ensure you can benefit from the new two year contract limits. If Big Telecom is successful in their court case those who sign up before December might be stuck in a restrictive contract until nearly 2017.