It’s been a busy last couple of months for the CRTC. Last month, it made peace with Bell Canada by dropping a case against the former’s exclusive mobile deal with the National Football League. The regulatory body then flexed its muscles to ensure that local Voice over IP service providers and resellers abide by current 911 regulations or risk getting put out of business.
And earlier this week, the CRTC issued citations to 74 telemarketers who failed to register or subscribe to the list. Another 11 companies were assessed monetary penalties for “more significant breaches.”
While all those are welcome moves, the general perception continues to be that the regulatory body needs to do more to promote ‘competition’ in the wireless segment. To that effect, the CRTC said Wednesday it wants feedback on whether the country’s wireless sector will require formal regulation to stay competitive.
First things first, I applaud the CRTC’s move to solicit public feedback in order to formulate a national code for carriers in Canada’s $17-billion wireless market. The regulatory body says it recently received several applications suggesting that a national code be established. The move has received public support from several wireless carriers including Rogers Wireless and Telus.
“Our practice has been to rely on market forces as long as we are convinced that the interests of consumers will be looked after,” said Leonard Katz, the CRTC’s Acting Chairman. “In this case, we are seeking evidence that our intervention is necessary before considering the development of a national wireless code.”
In 1994, the CRTC decided against regulating the wireless sector. However, nearly two decades later, the entire demographic of Canada’s wireless industry has changed and there’s a strong case to revisit that stone age policy.
More importantly, Canadians can now complain about wireless services to a watchdog agency set up to mediate between consumers and the industry. Complaints in the telecom sector jumped by 114 per cent in 2010-11 over the previous year, to more than 8,000 and the CRTC says it’s committed to ensuring Canadian wireless subscribers get a fair deal from the carrier fraternity.
If you have any suggestions for the CRTC about the state of affairs in the country’s wireless market, hop over to the CRTC website here by May 3rd.