Canada Competition Bureau

AH Primetime: The Broken Gov’t Promises of Wireless in Canada

July 6, 2015 - Written By Cory McNutt

In a recent article on rabble.ca – “News for the Rest of Us” – entitled, ‘Cell phone bills, broken promises, and a legacy of government failure’ the author is outraged at the higher prices charged to Canadian wireless subscribers when compared to other industrialized nations.  Their argument is based on the 2015 Wall Report – an official price comparison and analysis on the state of the Canadian wireless industry – jointly commissioned by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Industry Canada.  After prior Wall Reports, the government would go out of its way and highly publicize certain findings by issuing press releases that spun a positive image of its findings, however, this year the report was so overwhelmingly negative that the government chose to simply ‘bury’ the report.  Not even one press release or tweet on the subject on this important study.

Rather than the government acknowledging the report, OpenMedia jumped on it to let the public know the findings.  They were also very vocal on the latest Rogers’ buyout of Mobilicity, which ended up being sanctioned by the government after preaching for a couple of years that Industry Canada would never allow one of the Big Three – Rogers, Bell and TELUS – to purchase an entrant.  In fairness to Industry Minister James Moore, there were stipulations that if a deal to purchase Mobilicity, which was in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings, a portion of the valuable AWS spectrum in Ontario is given to entrant WIND Mobile.  This will help them build out their LTE network and in return should increase competition in some areas of Canada.  However, OpenMedia’s Campaigns Manger Josh Tabish, was not impressed and said the deal will “ultimately mean less choice and higher prices for Canadian cell phone subscribers, despite promises to the contrary.”

Rabble.ca says that the message is clear: “Canada is going backwards, not forwards, when it comes to getting a grip on spiraling telecom prices.  These sky-high prices are not only an unacceptable burden on Canadian families, but top business leaders have warned that they are holding back our entire economy.”  They have identified a few trends and one is that while Industry Minister James Moore has “taken some positive steps forward,” that is not enough to lower pricing on Canadian wireless prices.  Also, the government’s “piecemeal” method is not working and that a more “ambitious approach” to reform the entire wireless industry is needed…even though at the beginning of the year they announced that 2015 would bring more spectrum and competition to Canada.  OpenMedia and rabble.ca are advocating the right to exercise your complaints in the upcoming elections by casting your vote for change.