Big Three cell phone providers take Canadians and regulator to federal court in attempt to delay 2 year contract change in Code of Conduct

Cell phone providers have filed a motion with the Federal Court of Appeals in an attempt to delay new rules from being implemented until nearly 2017

July 3rd, 2013 – Late last night OpenMedia.ca received this notice from our lawyers notifying us that Bell, Rogers, and Telus had filed a motion with the Federal Court of Appeals in an attempt to delay the June 2015 implementation of the CRTC’s new Code of Conduct for cell phone service in Canada.

The court filing specifically mentions “members of the public” along with several public interest groups, including OpenMedia.ca, as respondents to the motion.

In June, Canadians won a new CRTC Code of Conduct for Cell Phone service that effectively ends restrictive 3-year contracts, caps data roaming fees, and makes it easier to switch to a new provider. Then, just days ago in response to OpenMedia.ca’s Demand Choice campaign, Industry Minister Paradis set out new rules to stop Big Telecom companies from taking over key affordable, independent mobile options and wireless spectrum infrastructure from Canadians.

Canadians pay some of the highest prices for some of the worst cell phone service in the industrialized world – a direct result of the lack of choice where 94% of the market is dominated by just three giant Big Telecom conglomerates.

OpenMedia.ca Executive Director, Steve Anderson, had this to say regarding the move, “After vigilance by Canadians of all walks of life, policy-makers are finally starting to fix our broken telecom market. The old giant telecom providers had a chance to listen but instead they’re taking Canadians to court with hopes to delay some of the key safeguards until nearly 2017.”

“The gross sense of entitlement of these telecom bureaucracies is out of control. It is clearly time for serious action to rein in Big Telecom, and that means we need to consider separating out their infrastructure control so new entrants can provide services on a level playing field. It’s time for the government to take bold action to stand up for Canadians and our economy. There’s no excuse now and Canadians have provided a clear policy roadmap for the government.“

Canadians can speak up for genuine cell phone choice and affordability in our mobile market by joining the over 57,000 citizens who have signed the petition at http://DemandChoice.ca.

About OpenMedia.ca

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.

Through campaigns such as StopTheMeter.ca and StopSpying.ca, OpenMedia.ca has engaged over half-a-million Canadians, and has influenced public policy and federal law.

About the Demand Choice campaign

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 http://StopTheSqueeze.ca, and the CRTC responded by inviting comments on whether the Commission should development national rules for wireless service in Canada. OpenMedia.ca mobilized Canadians to write in and request that the CRTC do just that.

On October 11, 2012 the CRTC announced it would hold a public consultation on national rules for wireless services. It was in response to this that the campaign at http://CellPhoneHorrorStory.ca was launched, in order to give citizens an easy way to make the CRTC aware of the real human consequences of our broken cell phone market.

OpenMedia.ca highlighted Canadians’ stories in a crowdsourced submission to the CRTC, and released a report detailing their findings and recommendations.

This resulted in a broadly positive new CRTC Code of Conduct for wireless companies – national rules that reign in punitive three-year contracts, enable users to unlock their cell phones after 90 days, set cut-off points for data overage charges, and force carriers to be more transparent in setting out the terms of wireless contracts.

However the CRTC only sets some of Canada’s wireless rules. Canadians are looking to Industry Canada to do its part to fix our broken wireless market, which is 94% dominated by just three large, unaccountable Big Telecom conglomerates.

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Contact

David Christopher
Communications Coordinator, OpenMedia.ca
1-778-232-1858
david@openmedia.ca

More Information

  • Big Telecom Motion for Leave to Appeal CRTC Code of Conduct
  • 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
Topics: Cell Phones

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