As I reported at the end of last month, the province of Nova Scotia has joined a number of other Canadian provinces in regulating cell phone contracts. Now it looks like the major telecommunications carriers in the country are pushing for a national standard that would streamline the concept.
Rogers, Bell and Telus, along with a number of consumer advocacy groups, have gone on record as supporting a national wireless code that would assist in simplifying consumer cell phone bills.
“We believe that enforceable national wireless standards, applied consistently across Canada, would address the demand for consumer protection in the most economically and administratively efficient manner and give consumers the same rights and benefits equally across the country,” said the collective in a statement to the CRTC.
Five provinces have implemented some form of legislation, but the collective says that it’s little more than a “patchwork” of laws that can theoretically lead to inconsistency and, worse, increased costs to the telecommunications companies.
The CRTC has asked for feedback regarding a national wireless code and Canada’s telecommunications giants have answered. Along with the telecom companies, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre on behalf of the Consumers’ Association of Canada and Canada without Poverty has entered the ring. The group has apparently tabled a joint proposal with respect to contract standards. The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada has also put forth a proposal.
“Telus considers that it would be a tremendous benefit to all consumers if there was one simple, transparent and enforceable set of terms and conditions that apply to wireless contracts regardless of where you live in Canada,” said Telus in a statement.
WIND Mobile says it supports the proposed legislation, but they also took the opportunity to fire a shot across the bow of their competition. “WIND Mobile is making great strides toward creating a competitive wireless industry, but the big three are so entrenched that this type of legislation becomes necessary to ensure consumers are protected,” said Anthony Lacavera, chairman and CEO of WIND.
It’s hard to comment on the worth of the proposed legislation without any concrete information as to the plans of the telecommunications giants, but one would have to expect their input to be at least somewhat beneficial to their respective bottom lines. Maybe it’s that innate Canadian cynicism, but the image of the wireless giants getting together “for the interests of the consumers” seems a touch far-fetched.