Rogers $440 million takeover of Mobilicity will mean fewer choices for Canadian cell phone subscribers when wireless prices are already increasing at 3 times the rate of inflation
Update: Since this release was issued Industry Canada has released additional details about the Rogers/Mobilicity deal, which can be found here. OpenMedia has updated this release and statement with consideration of these new details. [June 24, 2015: 12:22PM pst]
June 24, 2015 – Mobilicity has accepted a $440 million takeover from Rogers, Inc., according to documents filed with the Ontario Superior Court. The deal, approved by Industry Canada, appears to conflict with the government’s promises to increase mobile provider choice and affordability. The deal will see some of Mobilicity’s AWS-1 spectrum acquired by Wind Mobile, while a substantial amount of spectrum previously set aside for new entrants will go to Rogers.
Community-backed OpenMedia prefers for all spectrum set aside for new entrants to remain outside of the hands of the Big Three. The government previously promised it would not approve any spectrum transfers that decrease competition in the wireless market. However, the takeover still requires approval from the Competition Bureau. Responding to today’s news, OpenMedia Campaigns Manager Josh Tabish had this to say:
Reports over weekend suggest government is poised to allow Rogers and Telus to acquire Mobilicity’s valuable wireless spectrum, despite promises it would be set aside for affordable, independent providers
June 22, 2015: Mobilicity’s employees and founder are calling for government action to ensure their business can continue as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), even if their valuable wireless spectrum is acquired by other operators. Community-backed OpenMedia, which is running a sustained campaign for lower wireless prices, insists any deal must ensure that Canadians’ wireless choices are not further reduced.
The call comes following media reports over the weekend that the government is preparing to allow Rogers and Telus to acquire Mobilicity’s spectrum, despite previous promises that it would be kept out of the Big Three’s hands. Reacting to today’s call from Mobilicity employees, OpenMedia Campaigns Manager Josh Tabish had this to say:
“Ensuring that affordable providers like Mobilicity can continue to offer services is important for Canadians, who for years have been paying some of the highest prices in the industrialized world. Canadians would be disappointed to see Mobilicity’s spectrum handed back to the Big Three given the government’s repeated promises to lower prices and improve choice.”
Official report finds that wireless prices are still rising steeply, and that overall telecom costs are among the most expensive in the industrialized world
June 18, 2015 – A major government report released this morning confirms that Canadians are still paying among the highest prices in the industrialized world for telecom service. The 2015 Wall Report, commissioned by the CRTC and Industry Canada, found that wireless prices are increasing across the board, with the cost of a standard 1GB monthly plan increasing by 7%, or over three times the rate of inflation (2.3%).
The report also found that new entrants, like Wind Mobile, offer rates that are 26-50% cheaper than the Big Three incumbents (Bell, Rogers, and Telus), and shows that broadband prices, especially for speeds over 15 Mbps, “are at the high end of the group of surveyed countries”, with a standard 16-40 Mbps service costing 64% more in Canada than in the U.K.
OpenMedia’s Campaigns Manager Josh Tabish had this to say: “Most Canadian cell phone users don’t need an official report to know that the cost of cell phone service is painfully high - they just need to look at their monthly bills. These high prices are the result of years of regulatory coddling of our unaccountable telecom giants. They are an unacceptable burden on Canadian families and the Canadian economy.”
OpenMedia launching renewed campaign at KillC51.ca as focus shifts to political arena, with commitment to kill the reckless and unpopular legislation set to become a decisive factor in October’s election
June 9, 2015: The fight against Bill C-51 will continue until the deeply unpopular legislation is repealed. That’s according to OpenMedia, which is helping lead a 240,000-strong campaign against the Bill, which the government has just forced through the Senate 44-28 in the final vote on the bill. The community-backed group is today launching a renewed campaign at KillC51.ca calling on leaders of all political parties to make a clear commitment to kill Bill C-51 as part of their election platform.
OpenMedia has worked with residents across Canada and a diverse range of organizations to host the #StopC51 campaign up until now. The Conservatives used their large Senate majority to cut short debate and ram the Bill through moments ago. Most Liberal senators took a principled stand against the Bill, despite the fact that their party leader and MPs supported the legislation, sparking outrage from Liberal grassroots. The NDP and the Green Party have already promised to completely repeal Bill C-51 if elected.
Code contains significant customer protections for mobile phone and Internet users, including an end to 3-year contracts, and caps on roaming charges for data
June 3, 2015 – Beginning today, between 2 and 4 million Canadian mobile phone customers trapped in three year contracts will be able to cancel their agreement without penalty if their agreements have run 24 months or more under the CRTC’s Wireless Code of Conduct. Community-backed group OpenMedia, who worked with tens of thousands of Canadians to shape the rules, has dubbed today “Cell Phone Freedom Day”.
Today’s measures ensure all Canadians enjoy the benefits of the code’s customer protections, and will create millions of “free agents” now able to move between providers, or renegotiate with their current providers. Beyond ending three year contracts, other protections include caps on roaming charges both at home and abroad, the right to unlock your device, and the option to return your phone within 15 days of purchase without penalty.
Letter signed by National Firearms Association, Free Dominion and nearly 100 other groups and individuals from the “conservative and libertarian side of the political spectrum”
June 2, 2015 – A group of prominent Canadian conservatives and libertarians are speaking out about how the government’s Bill C-51 will create “a long gun registry on steroids”, by enabling the government to “create databases on all Canadians without oversight”. In a joint letter to Stephen Harper, the group warns Bill C-51 will create an army of “civil service bureaucrats operating covertly without oversight, regulation or accountability.”
Dozens of conservatives and libertarians have signed the letter, including the National Firearms Association, Free Dominion, and National Post columnist Jesse Kline. The letter was facilitated by OpenMedia, a community-based group helping lead a 235,000-strong campaign against Bill C-51 that’s become one of the largest campaigns in Canadian history.
As of June 3, all Canadians, including those who are currently stuck in three year contracts, will be able to benefit from the Code's protections. For example, customers who entered into a 3 year term commitment on June 3, 2013, would have the option of ending their term agreements, without penalty.
Canadians will converge on Ottawa from across the country to protest the reckless, dangerous, and irresponsible legislation about to be voted on by the Senate
May 29, 2015 – Community-organized events are taking place across Canada on Saturday, as the Senate prepares to take its final vote on the government’s controversial and unpopular Bill C-51. The rallies take place following a months-long campaign that has seen over 230,000 people sign the StopC51.ca petition, with tens of thousands also taking action by emailing and tweeting at Senators and MPs, and writing letters in newspapers across the country.
Ottawa will be a key focal point, as Canadians from across the country gather in the nation’s capital for Saturday’s National Convergence against Bill C-51. Marchers will assemble at 2pm ET at the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights monument on Elgin Street. Other community-led events are taking place in towns and cities across Canada - a full listing of all events is available at StopC51.ca/May30
OpenMedia welcomes new CRTC Internet speed measurement program as a win for Canadians and an important step to protect net neutrality
May 21, 2015 – This morning the CRTC announced a new Internet speed measurement program designed to “measure the performance of their home broadband Internet services,” and is inviting everyday Canadians to participate. Community-backed OpenMedia, which called for proactive audits of Internet performance in its crowdsourced Casting an Open Net report, hails the decision as a win for Canadians, and a key step toward protecting Net Neutrality.
Responding to the news, OpenMedia Campaigns Manager Josh Tabish had this to say:
“We’re thrilled to see the CRTC taking bold steps toward ensuring Canadians get the Internet speeds they are promised. Unfortunately, Canadians have long paid some of the highest prices in the industrialized world for what is widely recognized as slow service. By signing up households across Canada to the program, the data collected can be used to shape broadband policy to ensure all Canadians get faster, more affordable Internet.
News comes one day after OpenMedia releases crowdsourced report recommending new rules to ban Mass Surveillance and create greater oversight for agencies like CSE
May 21, 2015 – Canadian spy agency CSE and its Five Eyes partners planned to compromise popular mobile App Stores to implant spyware on smartphones, and targeted a popular mobile web browser used by millions globally. Accordingly to reports published this morning by CBC News and The Intercept, CSE deliberately sought security vulnerabilities, but failed to inform companies or the public – leaving the private data of millions at risk.
Responding to this morning’s news, OpenMedia’s communications manager David Christopher had this to say:
“Let’s be clear about one thing: CSE claims they will safeguard Canada’s security, but instead they deliberately left millions of innocent people at risk of having their private data hacked. These reckless activities weaken the Internet security Canadians rely on to conduct business and communicate online. CSE claims they don’t target Canadians, but there is no way they could have excluded Canadians from spying activities. Remember, they targeted people all around the world, including anybody who interacted with compromised devices.”
Canada’s Privacy Plan is packed with proposals to restore privacy and roll back surveillance, based on ideas crowdsourced from over 125,000 Canadians
May 20, 2015 – OpenMedia is today launching a crowdsourced pro-privacy action plan, that aims to roll back out-of-control surveillance, and tackle Canada’s growing privacy deficit. Canada’s Privacy Plan is shaped by ideas and feedback from over 125,000 Canadians, and is launched as the government prepares to ram its unpopular privacy-undermining Bill C-51 through the Senate.
The crowdsourcing process that underpins the 96-page report identified three key privacy concerns that Canadians want to see addressed: i) warrantless access to personal information, ii) widespread dragnet surveillance of entire populations, and iii) insufficient oversight and accountability of surveillance activities. 94.1% of Canadians want a Parliamentary Committee to conduct a thorough review of existing oversight mechanisms.
“We wrote this report because privacy matters,” said OpenMedia’s David Christopher, the report’s lead author. “Canada’s growing privacy deficit has alarming consequences for democracy. We’re at a tipping point where we need to decide whether to continue evolving into a surveillance society, or whether to rein in the government’s spying apparatus. This report outlines common sense steps to strengthen privacy safeguards for all of us.”
Federal Court of Appeal rejects Big Telecom’s efforts to delay implementation of wireless customer protection rules
May 19, 2015 – The Federal Court of Appeal today has rejected Big Telecom’s efforts to delay the implementation of the Wireless Code of Conduct, stating that the CRTC “...has the right to make the Wireless Code applicable to contracts concluded before the Code came into effect.” The code contains significant customer protections for mobile phone and Internet users, including an end to 3-year contracts, and caps on roaming charges for data.
“This is a major win! By standing together, Canadians fought back against telecom giants in court and won. It took over a year and a half, but today the court is clear: the customer protections that Canadians fought for in the Wireless Code of Conduct applies to all mobile phone and Internet users across the country. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.”
The call comes in response to Laurie Hawn attacking and questioning the loyalty of some of Canada’s most accomplished business leaders who signed a letter criticizing controversial Bill C-51. Canadians are speaking out at #SaySorryLaurie
May 8, 2015 – Internet advocacy organization OpenMedia is calling for MP Laurie Hawn to retract and apologize for statements he made on May 6th that attack some of the most accomplished business leaders in Canada and the thousands of employees they work with. Canadians are joining the call using the hashtag #SaySorryLaurie.
Hawn’s attack came in response to a letter OpenMedia jointly circulated with Canadian business leaders that pointed out the negative impact spying Bill C-51 would have on businesses. The letter was signed by more than 140 businesses, including some of the country’s most respected and accomplished entrepreneurs. It was published April 20th in the National Post, and the NDP cited its concerns in the House of Commons.
In response to the letter, Conservative MP for Edmonton Laurie Hawn questioned the business leaders’ values and loyalty to Canada, including this statement: "[They] should seriously reconsider their business model and their lack of commitment to the values that bind us as Canadians." Hawn also insinuated that the businesses are “profiting” off of “horrific material.” A video of exchange can be found on YouTube.
The controversial Bill will now be considered by the Senate, as campaigners promise to turn Bill C-51 into a key election issue in October, if that’s what it takes to overturn the Bill
May 5, 2015: Privacy campaigners are vowing to keep up the fight against Bill C-51, after the government forced the unpopular spying Bill through the House of Commons. Conservative and Liberal MPs voted in favour, while 96 MPs from the NDP, the Green Party, the Bloc Quebecois, and Forces et Démocratie voted against. The Bill, opposed by 56% of Canadians and supported by just 33%, now moves on to the Senate.
Community-based OpenMedia, one of the groups leading the #StopC51 fight against the Bill, says the legislation will greatly exacerbate Canada’s privacy deficit, and that, if passed by the Senate, will become a major election issue. In the coming weeks, the citizen-backed group will launch a comprehensive pro-privacy action plan, based on ideas crowdsourced from Canadians, aimed at addressing Canada’s growing privacy deficit.
“The government and the Liberals may think today marks the end of this matter, but passing this reckless legislation will be an albatross around their neck moving into the election,” said OpenMedia’s communications manager David Christopher. “We hope the Senate will regain some of their lost legitimacy by killing this bill.”
Legislators in European Parliament and Commission are considering updates to copyright proposals that would censor links for Internet users
May 6, 2015 – A large network of over 50 organizations from 21 countries is coming together to “Save The Link”. Today, the network is launching a multilingual international campaign aimed at pushing back against efforts by powerful media conglomerates to censor links and stifle free expression on the Internet. One of the proposals being advanced could make users personally liable for the content of websites they link to online.
The campaign launches as legislators in the EU are considering a major copyright review, including amendments to the European Union’s Copyright Directive that experts say would fundamentally undermine the right to link. In addition, a recent leak from the European Commission reveals measures that could force online companies to monitor the activities of Internet users in order to block content in other countries.
In tandem with the launch of the campaign, organizers have set up a Thunderclap social media amplification tool demanding that legislators protect the right to link. The message will reach over 1.4 million people.
Posted by Josh Tabish on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 12:29
New rules from regulator ensures Canadians will have choices outside the Big Three leading to lower phone bills and more flexible offerings in the not-too-distant future.
May 5, 2015 – A major ruling from the CRTC today signals a significant step toward providing Canadians with greater choice and affordability in our mobile phone and Internet market. Community-based group OpenMedia, which intervened in the hearing, is hailing the decision as a win for people across the country, who have been paying some of the highest prices in the industrialized world. However the CRTC could have gone further by facilitating innovation through new market entrants, such as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).
MPs are being inundated with letters, phone calls, emails, and tweets in one of the largest citizen campaigns in Canadian history
May 4, 2015: The House of Commons will debate the government’s Bill C-51 today, and a final Commons vote on the unpopular legislation could be held as early as tomorrow evening or Wednesday morning. The government are using a time allocation motion to force the Bill through the Commons, cutting short debate and denying MPs the ability to respond to the serious concerns raised by experts during Committee hearings.
Opponents of the Bill are intensifying their efforts to urge MPs to listen to Canadians and reject the controversial legislation. MPs have already been inundated with tens of thousands of letters, phone calls, emails, and tweets in recent weeks. Over 205,000 people have now signed the StopC51.ca petition, making this one of the largest campaigns in Canadian history.
The report stage debate is scheduled to take place at 10am ET.
Commenting on the upcoming debate, OpenMedia’s communications manager David Christopher said: “Business leaders, 200,000 Canadians, and the government’s own top security and privacy experts are all warning that Bill C-51 is fundamentally flawed. It’s completely irresponsible of the government to ignore the experts and ram this reckless legislation through Parliament without a proper debate.”
Christopher continued: “They should listen to Canadians, go back to the drawing board, and this time consult properly about how to keep this country safe while respecting basic rights and freedoms.”
For months, foreign media giants have abused Canada’s copyright system by threatening Canadians with penalties that are impossible under Canadian law, in order to intimidate them into paying extortionate charges
April 23, 2015 – Leading Canadian copyright experts and organizations are urging Industry Minister James Moore to fix dangerous loopholes in Canada’s copyright rules. In a joint letter to Minister Moore, 17 organizations and experts set out in detail what needs to be done to safeguard Canadians from media giants trying to abuse the system. The letter comes just days after the government quietly announced in Tuesday’s budget that it will extend copyright terms on sound recordings from 50 to 70 years, a move that will cost customers millions.
As a result of a loophole in Canada’s new copyright rules, Canadians have been inundated by threatening and misleading notices from U.S.-based rights-holders. The notices threaten recipients with penalties that are impossible under Canadian law - such as $150,000 lawsuits and disconnection from the Internet. Experts want James Moore to act fast to close the loophole, which he was warned about but chose to ignore, before the new rules came into force in January.
Content creators and everyday Canadians will pay the price for continued mishandling of copyright policy from government, as unaddressed Notice and Notice loophole continues to expose Canadians to abuse
April 22, 2015 – Canadians got an unpleasant surprise in the budget yesterday when the government announced that it would be extending copyright for sound recordings by 20 years, up from Canada’s current term of life of the creator plus 50 years. The move comes after the flawed implementation of Canada’s Notice and Notice system, which has left Canadians exposed to abusive and misleading copyright notices from foreign media giants.
Copyright expert Michael Geist warns that the move looks like a concession to U.S. demands aimed at sleepwalking Canada into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed international deal that could make the Internet more expensive, censored, and policed. International copyright experts and numerousstudies suggest that copyright term extensions benefit neither content producers nor customers, and create major costs for society as a whole.
60 leading businesses, entrepreneurs, and investors warn that “unbalanced” legislation will undermine operations and international trust in Canadian businesses
APRIL 21, 2015: 60 leading Canadian business people, entrepreneurs, and investors have sent Prime Minister Stephen Harper an open letter warning that Bill C-51 will stifle business, undermine international trust, and do lasting damage to Canada’s economy. The letter was circulated by digital rights organization OpenMedia. In the letter the business leaders also join with 198,000 Canadians who have added their name to a joint petition at StopC51.ca.
The leaders affiliated with companies worth billions of dollars including Hootsuite, OpenText, Slack, Shopify and Tucows, are asking Stephen Harper to scrap the legislation and go back to the drawing board. Their appeal comes just days before the House of Commons is due to debate the bill on Friday, with a final vote expected very soon.
Events have been organized not by organizations, but by everyday Canadians wanting to take a stand against what experts have described as a “Secret Police” bill
April 18, 2015: Dozens of community-organized events are taking place across Canada today (Saturday), as tens of thousands of Canadians continue to speak out against the government’s Bill C-51. It follows a #StopC51 Week of Education which has seen tens of thousands of people sign petitions (Nearly 200,000 signatures), write letters to local papers, and inundate MP offices with letters and phone calls.
Today’s events are not being organized by any specific organization, but by a wide range of individuals and community groups across the country. They range from rallies taking place in a number of major cities, to smaller outreach events and petition drives.
With many MPs home in their ridings in advance of crucial vote, over 50 online and offline activities will take place right across Canada for the #StopC51 Week of Education
April 13, 2015 – With opposition to the government’s controversial Bill C-51 surging, Canadians across the country are coming together to launch a Week of Education about the reckless, dangerous, and ineffective legislation. Canadians have planned over 50 activities, including a range of social media tools aimed at educating fellow Canadians and their MPs about why the bill is wrong for Canada.
April 2, 2015 – Today’s the Federal Court of Appeal announced that Bell Mobility will be allowed to challenge a recent CRTC decision prohibiting the telecom giant from making competing apps and services more expensive. The decision means that Bell could potentially seek legal costs from university student Ben Klass, a single mother, and a senior citizens’ organization, amongst other respondents, if they have their say in court.
Responding to the news, OpenMedia Campaigns Manager Josh Tabish had this to say:
“After over a year of unpaid hard work from citizens to convince policy-makers that Bell should not be allowed to tilt the playing field in their favour, the company is dragging ‘the little guy’ to court for years so they can regain the power to make the Internet more like cable TV.”
March 27, 2015: News that the government will admit up to ten amendments to Bill C-51 has been given a cautious welcome by community-based organization OpenMedia, which is campaigning to scrap the bill. However the amendments will not go anywhere near far enough to address serious concerns about the impact the vaguely written bill will have on Canadians’ privacy and democratic rights.
Responding to the news, OpenMedia’s executive director Steve Anderson said: “I am happy to see the government finally admit that Bill C-51 is flawed, and that they are willing to make amendments. Canadians and experts have been clear that the language in this bill is so vague and poorly written that the government needs to restart the process not tinker around the edges. I’m hopeful that the government will now start to have a meaningful dialogue with Canadians on this reckless, dangerous, and ineffective piece of legislation.”
Bell president Kevin Crull should resign after being caught censoring CTV news coverage
March 25, 2015 – Responding to reports that Bell directly interfered with CTV News coverage of CRTC decisions promising Canadians more affordable and flexibility in telecom options, OpenMedia Campaigns Manager Josh Tabish had said this to say:
“Sadly, we’re concerned with repeated reports that Bell’s President Kevin Crull is bullying his company’s news outlets into burying stories crucial to Canadians. Ordering staff to ban CRTC Chair Jean Pierre Blais from the airwaves is embarrassment to the country. Kevin Crull should resign immediately in order to restore Canadians’ confidence in the integrity and impartiality of CTV and other Bell-owned news broadcasts.”
Court rules that Bell must stop discriminating against competing apps and services as per CRTC order, allowing other content providers to operate on a level playing field.
March 23, 2015 – The Federal Court of Appeal today dismissed Bell Mobility’s request to continue offering their controversial Mobile TV service while they appeal a recent CRTC decision that found the company to be unlawfully making competing mobile video apps and services more expensive. The Court said that "Bell has not established that it will suffer irreparable harm” if the Mobile TV service is banned until the appeal is resolved.
In January, the CRTC forced companies like Bell to stop exempting their own services from monthly data caps. Bell was caught marking up competing video services by up to 800%. While the company was given until April 29 to comply, Bell announced they would appeal the decision. The Court is currently deciding whether they’ll hear the case, and today’s announcement means that Bell cannot continue the practice in the interim.
The massive petition organized by Leadnow and OpenMedia will be delivered at a key parliamentary hearing into Bill C-51 later today. A recent poll revealed that support for the legislation has plummeted, with 50% of Canadians now opposing it.
March 23, 2015 – A petition with over 100,000 signatures speaking out against Bill C-51 will be delivered to Parliament today. The petition was organized by Leadnow and OpenMedia to give Canadians an opportunity to speak out about how Bill C-51 will undermine basic freedoms. It will be delivered by OpenMedia’s Steve Anderson, who is testifying before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security at 6:30pm today.
Public opinion is rapidly turning against Bill C-51, commonly known as the “secret police bill”. A recent Forum Research poll revealed that support for Bill C-51 has plummeted, with just 19% wanting Parliament to pass the legislation as written. Last weekend, thousands of Canadians took to the streets in over 70 communities across Canada, as part of a National Day of Action organized by the BCGEU, Leadnow, and OpenMedia.
Canadians will be able to pick and choose which TV channels they want to purchase, beyond a slimmed-down basic package. However, the new rules won’t come fully into force until December 2016.
March 19, 2015 - Relief is in sight for Canadians fed up of paying for dozens of TV channels they never watch. New rules announced by the CRTC today mean Canadians will soon be able to pick and choose which TV channels they want to pay for. OpenMedia, which crowdsourced ideas from 30,000 people in a report provided to the CRTC last fall, says the new rules are a welcome step forward, but that the CRTC should have gone further.
Participants in OpenMedia’s crowdsourcing process asked for the basic package to only include publicly-funded media, such as CBC, APTN, and accessibility channels. Instead, the CRTC’s plan will still force all TV subscribers to pay for a number of channels owned by vertically-integrated telecom giants, including CTV, Global, and City TV. Because of this, the new ‘basic’ package will cost $25 a month, more than what many Canadians were hoping for.
“These new rules are a big step in the right direction, although it’s a pity the CRTC is still giving preferential access to the telecom giants,” said OpenMedia campaign manager Josh Tabish. “Nobody should be forced to subsidize outdated Big Telecom TV services in order to access publicly-funded media. That’s why more and more people are cutting the cord and turning to the Internet to access content flexibly.”
Canadians oppose Bill C-51 by 50% to 38%; two-thirds of Liberals oppose the bill despite Trudeau’s support; opposition to the bill has tripled in the six weeks since it was first announced.
March 17, 2015 – A new opinion poll just published by Forum Research has revealed a massive swing against Bill C-51, commonly known as the “Secret Police” Bill. The poll shows that 50% of Canadians now oppose the bill, with just 38% approving.
The poll was published just days after thousands of Canadians took to the streets in over 70 communities across Canada, as part of a National Day of Action organized by the BCGEU, Leadnow.ca, and OpenMedia.