OpenMedia welcomes CRTC plan to create code for wireless services
OpenMedia, a Vancouver-based open-Internet advocacy group, is pleased the CRTC is developing a retail code intended to protect users of mobile wireless services.
The CRTC said Canadians have complained about the cost of such services, how clear contracts are, how prices are advertised, and customer service quality.
The federal regulator has determined a mandatory code is needed to better protect users of cellphones and other mobile devices and help them make informed decisions.
The CRTC said the code will detail the rights of consumers and the responsibilities of service providers.
“The Commission shares the view that market forces alone cannot be relied upon to ensure that consumers have the information they need to participate effectively in the competitive mobile wireless market,” the CRTC said in a written decision today (October 11).
OpenMedia spokesperson Lindsey Pinto welcomed the move.
“Right now there are three companies that control about 94 percent of Canada’s cellphone market and there are very few protections that are extended to users and that basically ensure that citizens aren’t being price-gouged, are not being stuck in contracts that are unfair,” Pinto told the Straight by phone.
The CRTC is now accepting comments from the public until November 20 on how the code should be developed. The commission is looking for input on who the code should apply to, how it should be enforced, and how its effectiveness should be assessed.
“We’re in favour of this code. We are excited to be involved in the process of developing it,” Pinto said. “We’re glad that the CRTC is involving citizens and we would encourage the CRTC, as this process unfolds, to be sure to keep citizen interests, the public interest, at the forefront of their priorities.”
Quebec and Manitoba have already introduced tough consumer protections around such services, but no similar rules exist in B.C., according to Pinto. She said OpenMedia hopes the new code builds on, rather than weakens, the existing provincial rules.
The CRTC decision to develop a code was based on the results of a public review launched in April. The CRTC said it received submissions from consumers, advocates, telecommunications companies, and others who support the move.
As part of the review, the commission also looked into whether mobile wireless rates should be regulated. However, the commission determined such regulation is not warranted because there is enough market competition to ensure consumer interests are protected.
A public hearing on the proposed code is scheduled for January 28 in Gatineau, Quebec.