Canadians Pressure CRTC to Do Something About Three-year Contracts

by Jordan Richardson on December 10, 2012

After a two-week consultation with the general public put in place by the CRTC, a clear message has emerged: get rid of three-year wireless contracts.

Hundreds of people submitted opinions to Canada’s regulatory body with the subject centring on the implementation of a national wireless standard. The overwhelming majority argued against the three-year contracts and expressed opinions that they were being “held hostage” by the wireless companies that walk the land.

Plans for a national wireless standard have been in the works for some time and the public consultation stage is pretty standard stuff. This gives Canadians an opportunity to express some opinions and provide their input as to what they think should go into such a standard. It also shuts the corporate agenda out, at least somewhat, and gives customers a chance to sound off – something they’ve been looking forward to.

“Canadian consumers continue to be saddled with higher than average costs for wireless services as compared to other OECD countries,” NDP consumer critic Glenn Thibeault wrote in his submission to the CRTC.

It was in October that the CRTC announced plans for the national standard, which would theoretically help Canadians understand their nebulous wireless contracts better and hammer out some much-needed details.

The first round of consultations closed this week. Along with complaints about three-year contracts, Canadians sounded off about a lack of competition in the wireless sector.

A draft of the potential wireless code is expected by the end of next month and online consultations will be launched over that, giving the public another chance to get involved in the process. And in February, the CRTC will hear the public in more official fashion as public hearings begin.

This round saw more than 500 submissions. There are 27.4 million wireless subscribers in Canada (78.2 percent of households) and the numbers are increasing, with six percent more Canadians added to a contract since 2011. But more really need to get involved in the process, so the CRTC has to be hoping for more submissions.

You can check out more information on the submissions here and learn how to participate in future public discussions with the CRTC to help shape policy going forward.

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