Key Report Highlights Strategies to Fix “Broken Cell Phone Market”

Groups OpenMedia.ca and CIPPIC release comprehensive report, as Industry Canada prepares rules for wireless infrastructure auction

March 8, 2012 – Adding to the pressure of a 63,000+ signature “Stop The Squeeze” petition launched earlier this year, grassroots group OpenMedia.ca and University of Ottawa legal clinic CIPPIC are releasing a report today that highlights the best way to improve competition and choice in Canada's struggling cell phone market.

This comes as Industry Canada prepares to release the rules for a much-anticipated wireless spectrum auction, which will shape the future of cell phone pricing and choice in Canada.

Wireless spectrum is increasingly crucial infrastructure for cell phones, which more and more Canadians are using to communicate and access the Internet.

OpenMedia.ca has been pushing the government to ensure that rules for the auction will enable a level playing field, rather than making the market even more uncompetitive and expensive. The group emphasises that upwards of 94 percent of the cell phone market is currently controlled by only three large conglomerates, and that Canadians pay some of the highest cell phone fees in the industrialized world.

Titled Spectrum policy in Canada: Levelling the playing field for affordable rates and breadth of choice, the report draws on data from experts in the field and provides a comprehensive analysis of spectrum in Canada.

In comparing a variety of potential frameworks, the report makes it clear that rules involving spectrum set-asides for smaller, independent cell phone companies will go the furthest in improving what many Canadians now feel is a broken telecom market.

Spectrum policy in Canada counters arguments from the Big Three cell phone companies—Bell, Rogers, and Telus—which are seeking to control all of the available spectrum. Perhaps most notably, the report makes it clear that rural Canada is best served by a spectrum set-aside for new entrants.

“Canada’s cell phone industry is in such dire straights that over 63,000 people have already spoken out about this rather technical issue at StopTheSqueeze.ca,” says OpenMedia.ca Executive Director Steve Anderson. “Canadians are tired of being price-gouged for cell phone service, and they’re smart enough to know that it can only get worse if critical wireless spectrum is hoarded by three big companies. We know where Canadians stand, and now the government has a clear set of recommendations to actualize on their input”

OpenMedia.ca, CIPPIC, and PIAC will deliver Spectrum Policy in Canada to Industry Minister Christian Paradis and other key decision makers, and has created a special online tool that allows Canadians to send it to their MPs. The tool can be found at http://openmedia.ca/CellphoneFuture.

The report, including recommendations, can be found at http://openmedia.ca/CellphonePlan.

About OpenMedia.ca

OpenMedia.ca is a grassroots organization that safeguards the possibilities of the open and affordable Internet. The group's primary goal is to increase informed participation in Internet governance.

About CIPPIC

The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) was established at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law in the fall of 2003. It is the first legal clinic of its kind in Canada.

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Contact

Lindsey Pinto
Communications Manager, OpenMedia.ca
778-238-7710
lindsey@openmedia.ca


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