Watchdog looks to ban deceptive telecom ads

by Andrew Roach on February 7, 2013

Following last week’s unveiling of the CRTC’s new wireless laws, The Competition Bureau has got involved as they look to clamp down on deceptive telecom ads.

The watchdog is calling for a ban on telecom companies advertising unlimited data plans as it gives a false impression to consumers about how much data they can use.

It also believes that the claims of unlimited data are unfair for competition as consumers are unaware about the conditions surrounding these plans and not able to make an informed decision.

With an estimated 27.4 million users owning a wireless device, regulators feel that it’s time to try and update the rules involving an industry worth $19m.

The Competition Bureau’s findings look to add further on the CRTC’s wireless code proposals which are aimed to add more clarity and information for anyone looking in to get a plan.

In their findings, the watchdog believes that the data limits of a plan should be defined by the network provider practically eliminating the unlimited tag associated with many top of the line plans.

The bureau’s findings went further suggesting that wireless providers shouldn’t be allowed to lock phones to a single network and all unlocking fees should be abolished.

There has also been a debate about the contract length of wireless devices with the suggestion that plans should be knocked down to two years like many other countries.

In their report, The Competition Bureau acknowledged the difference between Canada’s industry and other international markets. The board said that “Canada is one of the only jurisdictions worldwide where a large proportion of wireless contracts are three years in duration.”

“For instance, in the United States, contracts are regularly only two years in duration, and in Europe, service providers are prohibited by law from requiring wireless contracts in excess of 24 months,” they added.

With the CRTC’s wireless code of conduct still in draft format, there is still time for reports such as the bureau’s influence the final version of the guidelines.

There hasn’t been any word from the CRTC about the report and its effect on the wireless code however with both companies often crossing paths, it could still influence the concrete set of guidelines.

But with wireless features now playing such an important role in modern electronic devices, it’ll be important for regulators to get their guidelines right to ensure that both customers and providers benefit equally once everything is finalised.

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