Issues and Activities

Telecommunications

Part 1 Application Regarding Videotron’s Illico.tv Service

JANUARY 09, 2014

The Consumers’ Association of Canada (“CAC”), the Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of British Columbia (“COSCO”), and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (“PIAC”, collectively with CAC and COSCO (“CAC-COSCO-PIAC”) hereby make an application to the Commission under Part 1 of the CRTC Rules of Practice and Procedure to direct Quebecor Media Inc., Videotron Ltd., and Videotron G.P. (collectively the “Respondent”) to stop certain billing practices in respect of access by Videotron’s mobile wireless customers to over-the-top (“OTT”) mobile TV services.
Electronic service of this application has been made to the respondent by e-mail, with the associated attachments. This application has also been posted to PIAC’s website at: Part 1 Application Regarding Videotron’s Illico.tv Service [pdf file: 0.27mb]

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Application Asks CRTC to Prohibit Paper Bill Fees and Seek Refunds for Regulated Phone Customers

OCTOBER 23, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OTTAWA – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC) filed an application today to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to request the elimination of all fees charged by telecommunications service providers for providing bills in paper format. PIAC and CAC are also seeking refunds for “paper bill fees” charged to Primary Exchange Service customers and landline customers in regulated areas. The groups’ application asks that the CRTC prohibit telecommunications companies from charging paper bill fees as these are penalizing customers simply to pay for the cost of billing those same customers.

PIAC and CAC also argue that paper bill fees are an unauthorized rate increase for regulated landline customers and unjustly discriminatory towards all telecommunications customers. The group filed with the application an August-September 2013 survey conducted by Environics Research Group which demonstrates that:

•83% of Canadians somewhat agreed or strongly agreed that people should have the right to get a paper bill in the mail without having to pay an extra fee, and that this was part of the company’s cost of doing business;
•33% of Canadians were “not very comfortable” or “not at all comfortable” with receiving bills or invoices online; and
•Where faced with a paper bill fee, 54% of Canadians have paid it to receive a paper statement.

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Canadian Wireless Policy will Spur Investment, Lower Wireless Prices

AUGUST 22, 2013

OTTAWA –Canada’s present wireless policy will increase investment in wireless networks and lower consumer prices, today said the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC). Canada’s “big three” cellphone companies, Bell Mobility, TELUS Mobility and Rogers already control more than 90% of the retail cellphone market and 90% of Canada’s spectrum but are threatening to slow down investment if Verizon or another credible company enters Canada’s market. However, contrary to their claims, these three companies spend proportionately little on their networks and increased competition from a fourth national provider and will spur their investment rather than reduce it.

“It’s hard to see how the three wireless companies in Canada could possibly spend less on their networks,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel for PIAC. “For example, Bell last quarter only reinvested 9.3% of its wireless revenues on capital expenditures for wireless services in the second quarter of 2013. That’s well below averages in every other major economy,” he added.

In addition, the groups noted that the companies’ wireless revenue from Canada’s cellphone users is the fourth highest of all 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

“Canadians are paying too much for cellphone service because their market is lacking real competition at the national level,” said Bruce Cran, President of the Consumers’ Association of Canada. “We support the Government of Canada’s spectrum policy because it is designed to help introduce this badly needed competition in the Canadian wireless market.”

PIAC has prepared a short backgrounder on wireless investment and pricing in Canada which is attached [pdf document].

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Consumers Will Benefit from Competition Canada’s Spectrum Policy Creates

TUESDAY, JULY 30, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa – Consumers will benefit from increased competition in wireless thanks to the Canadian government’s commitment to its present spectrum policy, today stated two major consumer groups, the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC) and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC).

John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC noted that the Canadian government has been clear that it wants more wireless competition: “The spectrum auction rules are designed to produce a more competitive wireless market that will lower prices for consumers – that’s what the big three don’t want you to get.”

Bell, TELUS and Rogers have very publicly stated the government’s spectrum policy is unfairly favouring foreign interests and that the playing field is “not level”. The large Canadian wireless carriers have also said publicly that they won’t serve rural Canadians, will fire their own employees and will be wiped out by U.S. companies if Canada allows a serious fourth national competitor, such as Verizon, to get established in Canada.

“Bell, TELUS and Rogers are trying to scare Canadians with misinformation,” said Bruce Cran, President of the Consumers’ Association of Canada. “We are happy that new Industry Minister Moore is staying the course on spectrum,” he added.

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TELUS Buying Mobilicity Bad for Consumers

MAY 16, 2013

OTTAWA – Consumers will lose more ground in the cellphone market unless the Industry Minister or the Competition Bureau stops the proposed acquisition of Mobilicity by TELUS, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC) said today. Mobilicity, Canada’s second-largest “new entrant” wireless company will be absorbed by TELUS, Canada’s second-largest cellphone company if the agreement announced today is approved by the federal government and the Competition Bureau.

“Losing Mobilicity to TELUS means we are that much closer to the big three being the only three wireless companies in Canada,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel for PIAC. “Consumers will face noticeably higher prices and less choice if only three major players control the market.”

TELUS must seek permission from the federal government to purchase Mobilicity, a “new entrant”, within five years from the last spectrum auction. The federal auction rules prohibit major cellphone companies like TELUS, Rogers and Bell Canada from buying new entrants or their spectrum until February 2014.

“We call once again for the Minister to clearly tell the major wireless companies that they cannot reduce consumer choice by buying up their competition” said Bruce Cran, President of the Consumers’ Association of Canada.

Lawford noted that wireless is already on the ropes, with WIND Mobile and Public Mobile, two other “new entrants” now are also threatening to sell to the major competition: “Sadly, the wheels are coming off the Industry Minister’s four competitor model.”

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For more information:

John Lawford
Executive Director and General Counsel
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
ONE Nicholas Street, Suite 1204
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 7B7
(613) 562-4002×25

lawford@piac.ca

Bruce Cran
President
Consumers’ Association of Canada
(604) 418-8139
bcranbiz@telus.net

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