Canadians make it clear they're not happy with cellphone situation
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission wanted the public's opinion, and they received it - loud and clear.
After the CRTC's two-week online consultation period, it's obvious Canadians want changes made in the wireless industry with respect to cellphone contracts. The vast majority of the hundreds who submitted their opinions want the CRTC to ban three-year contracts which have become the norm in the cellphone market.
The CRTC sought the views of Canadians regarding a proposed code of conduct for the wireless industry, and the overwhelming message from Canadians is that they're tired of being "held hostage" by 36-month contracts. One of the online messages, featured in the Canadian Press story in Sunday's Lethbridge Herald, summed up the sentiment: "Get rid of the 36 months contract!!! It first started with 12 months, then 24 months, now the standard is 36 months, which is ridiculous!"
Contract length, in addition to concerns about lack of competition in the industry, topped the feedback from the CRTC's online consultations, which represent the first round of public consultations. The country's telecom regulator is expected to introduce a draft version of the code of conduct by the end of next month. That will be followed by a second round of online consultations along with public hearings scheduled to begin in February.
There seems to be a basis for Canadians consumers' complaints. Critics argue that Canadians are paying too much for their wireless services, based on comparisons with rates in other countries. NDP consumer critic Glenn Thibeault points out that the three-year contracts often exceed the lifespan of a heavily used wireless device.
The Canadian Press story reports that most of Canada's 27.4 million wireless subscribers have contracts with the "Big Three" carriers - Bell, Rogers and Telus - who are the focus of complaints about a lack of competition.
With the heavy reliance on wireless devices in today's high-tech world, Canadian consumers deserve a fair shake, and it's up to the CRTC to ensure they get one. The CRTC's online forum attracted more than 500 responses, representing just a fraction of the country's wireless subscribers, but the overwhelming message is probably representative of the majority of consumers. By the time the public consultations are completed, the CRTC should have a clear picture of what is required in its proposed code of conduct for the wireless industry.
Hopefully, when the process is completed, Canada's wireless subscribers will find the result is a more consumer-friendly wireless marketplace.
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