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.
The CRTC released its consumer wireless code last month, receiving kudos for new measures that should eliminate three-year contracts. Now the major telecom companies are preparing a lawsuit challenging the rules associated with the implementation of the code.
For the better part of a century now, private broadcasters in Canada have been complaining that they are forced to operate in competition with a state-subsidized player, CBC/Radio-Canada and its predecessors. But in reality the subsidy provided to the private industry by government is just about the same size as the CBC's Parliamentary appropriation.
In topsy-turvy CRTC world, however, culture is not something that sprouts organically from the bottom up, it's imposed from the top down by an entitled clique of cable companies and heavily-subsidized artists who believe patriotism requires watching and buying whatever junk they produce. And if the people won't, the state should make 'em. It's a fine opinion to have, I guess. It's certainly the argument that seems to have won the day. Just don't expect any normal Canadian to say it -- ever.
No politician or citizen stands above the law, and each citizen must pay income taxes. When the lawmakers fail to follow their own regulations, citizens should demand better. In order to take parliamentary suggestions and regulations on tax avoidance and evasion seriously, citizens should feel confident that their MPs, first and foremost, are following the rules.
The CRTC released its much-anticipated consumer wireless code this morning. The headline-grabbing change is that the Commission has effectively brought three-year contracts to an end. The issue of contract length was the top issue raised by consumers, who argued that Canadian wireless contracts were longer than most other countries and that they represented a significant barrier to effective competition.