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Liberal leadership candidate says the CRTC’s proposed wireless code has “little hope for success” and that “Canadians are tired and frustrated” of big wireless bills


Marc Garneau recently threw his name into the mix of people running to lead Canada’s Liberal party. According to his Wikipedia page he’s an engineer, retired military officer, and an ex-NASA astronaut who’s been to space three times. That’s a good track record.

It’s common practice for politicians who are eager to get elected to bring out the frustration and pain that us common folk feel with a promise of hope. We saw this happen a few years ago with the wireless spectrum auction and various proposed bills to have carriers unlock cellphones.

Garneau, in a statement on his website, declared he plans to take on the “competition in the telecommunications sector.” He believes that “Canada must open the door fully to competition in this sector” and that “Canadians are tired and frustrated with big bills, poor service and few choices on wireless, Internet and phone services.” Garneau quotes stats from a CRTC report that indicates Canadians pay approximately $55/month for wireless service, which is about 20% more than our friends in the United States, and “100 per cent more than users in the UK and Germany.” In addition, Garneau highlights Canadians are “frustrated with the endless list of roadblocks: Locked phones, ridiculous contract penalties, hidden service charges, bogus “system access fees.”

The solution is to “bring new ideas, entice investment in new technologies, and drive down the costs of our wireless bills.”

There has been many improvement to the Canadian wireless scene over the past number of years. We’ve seen newer players such as WIND Mobile, Mobilicity, Public Mobile and Videotron all launch their service, plus offer low cost (approximately $30/month) for unlimited talk, text and data. In addition, these carriers also give the customer, like all carriers, the option to sign a contract or not. As for the Big 3, TELUS recently announced that they removed the $35 activation fee. The average monthly bill is sitting around the $50 – $65/month mark, but data usage has also increased. So there has been progress in Canadian wireless.

Finally, Garneau also aimed his words at the proposed CRTC’s proposed “wireless code of conduct” by stating he commends the CRTC “for making the effort on its wireless code of conduct, I hold little hope for success in achieving change. In a system without real competition in which consumers have few choices, the CRTC, the regulator, has limited options.”

Time will tell…

Source: Marc Garneau

  • David

    I agree that ultimate solution is to open up the market. But at least now even if the new CIBC chairman has been bribed at least he pretends to be on our side. The previous one straight out has “bribed” sculpted on his forehead.

  • caribouroader

    Political opportunism

    • Tom

      Why is it ‘political opportunism’ when he takes on an issue that the voters want, and that the country really needs, but will bring down the wrath of the most powerful companies in the country?

      I equate political opportunism with populism, e.g. being tough on crime when it isn’t warranted, or saying you will lower taxes w/o corresponding cuts.

    • caribouroader

      Or…hitching your horse to a contextually small national issue in order to pander to a small group, as he is doing here in his leadership run.

    • some guy

      Because it only happens when they are vying for something. in this case, the Liberal leadership.

      This guy won’t take it anywhere other than a few ambiguous sound bites to make it sound like he’s looking out for the people.

  • Kid.Canada

    Heres to a better future in Canada’s wireless industry. Please CRTC, for once stand behind your good people and do the right thing. Its sad that we always have to use the UK as an example of good wireless service when we can do the same or better. We just have to take action and have some good will power and show these wireless dictators (aka Big 3) that they don’t run sh*t.

  • Dan

    inb4
    “The country’s too big for moderate prices”
    “Our population is too small for moderate prices”
    “you signed the contract, it’s your own fault that you have to have a phone, and minutes/data to use on it!”

  • Arber

    Maybe because he said this the crtc is going to prove him wrong (y)

  • Keith

    If the rest of his policies are solid then I say Garneau for Prime Minister. He is first leader or potential leader that I’ve seen to have an understanding of the road blocks and price collusion going on in the Canadian wireless industry.

  • dern

    Meh, he’s a Lib. Sure he may advocate lower cell phone bills but in the end we’ll all be paying higher taxes with the left in office.

  • cedqc418

    Vidéotron is not a low cost … it the big 4 in QC !

  • China NO

    I don’t think Mobilicity even counts as a carrier when they obviously don’t have any money to expand beyond their current spectrum mandate.

  • jack

    Can he get rid of the CRTC? That will really open up the market. Or, get the US version of CRTC to run the show up here as well.

  • vn33

    How many times have we heard golden promises from politicians-who-wants-to-be-elected before ?? I’ll believe it when I see it reflected in my monthly mobile phone bill !!

  • BM

    “According to his Wikipedia page”??!! Come on man1, it’s Marc Garneau!

  • Alexander

    Really bothers me when I read that the average monthly phone bill is 55-65 a month. I work for one of the big three, and I have I have friends at all the rest. Sure you can go on a $50 plan, but don’t expect to have any add-ons, or a nice phone. Want one of the new top end smart phones? Average customer price is $85 a month minimum. Maybe that’s only here in Alberta, but the only time I see a $50 plan is when I help people with 7 year old plans.

    • Sean

      Really? It must only be in Alberta. I’ve got a one year old plan, all sorts of add-ons and several GB of data for $55/month in Nova Scotia. First time subscriber to my current carrier as well, so it’s not a retention deal.

    • KimJong-iil

      @Sean : carrier name please ?

      “several gb’s of data” :P

  • Yeas

    We shouldn’t complain about ‘opportunitism’, anytime the focus is shifted away from the established rich to people who need to make the ends meet, its a good thing. It may be for the purpose of getting votes, but at least this way, the group benefiting isn’t the ones that have traditionally benefited.

  • jetr0

    I hold little hope of success of this guy actually doing anything either. The wireless industry has been improving slowly over the last couple of years anyway. Our prices do need to come down a bit more. I think the code of conduct will help to take out some of the less fair things. Such as 3 year contracts and phone unlocking.

  • Jayk

    At the end of the day he could make phone and internet free and I still wouldn’t vote Liberal.

  • Sean

    If this is your biggest concern, and the one on which you’re going to base your vote, you probably shouldn’t be allowed to cast a ballot. We’ve got much bigger fish to fry.

  • bd

    While they are at it , the CRTC should ban “Retention” deals. Every deal should be available to all customers. That is the only way that there will be transparency with these monopolists. Can you walk into Walmart or FutureShop and strike individuals deals for Television sets or toothpaste?

    • DocB

      Um… Actually you can, at least at Future Shop, Best Buy and even the electronics departments at department stores. They are always willing to bargain. When I bought a 52″ TV and Blu-ray player at Futureshop, I had them knock down the price by $800, include a stand and HDMI cables as well as three new release movies of my own choice. Yes I took the extended warranty, but I bargained 30% off of it as well (and I actually used it 2x since purchase).

  • Zod

    Canada still has a fairly small population overall. Look how long its taking Wind or Mobilicity to expand there networks. All that infrastructure costs money. The more players you have, the harder it is to recoup the infrastructure costs (which creates natural barriers to entry).

    There’s about 33 million Canadians. We have Bell, Telus, and Rogers (and some regional carriers likes SaskTel) as the main 3. Mobilicity and Wind as the incumbants.

    Just watching how long it takes the incumbants to build out there networks. If we got even more players, who got an even smaller piece of the pie.

    I guess I’m saying I don’t think opening it up would solve the issue. The big 3 are in a position to reduce prices of competition gets to heated. Which means any new incumbants are going to have an even harder time than the last two.

  • Slype

    He may be hitching his ride to a small group of people but at least whoever wrote his speech knows the issues that we are facing. No whether he could do anything is something else. Between the money the big three throw at government in the form of cheap rates, donations and sponsorship, I doubt they would want to bite that hand.

    Money talks in this country, just like everywhere else.

  • Down Like Pacquiao

    CRTC was created by the liberals in 1968. Time to cleanup the mess you started.

  • ARYANA

    Sean is talking about his employee plan with a 50+ discount on it..

  • GrapeApe

    Wireless Bills !?!
    Nah, they’re in line with the rest of the world and the US, despite a huge geographical density difference.

    Wanna fix something, Lower GAS prices to those in the US at least (hell we make it and refine it here in AB, why do I pay more than places FAR FAR away from either resource?)

    Also, want a CRTC activity, Fix my G-D CABLE/SAT bill and allow me A LA Carte choice of channels that you’ve been promising for over an F’in Decade !!!

    Seriously my Wireless bill is nowhere near as big an impact on my life as those other two who both are far more gouging than wireless, which has never been so far out of line with the rest of the world to be truly worthy of major Gov’t involvement, unlike Cable/Sat and Gas prices which always get threats but no action.

    Oh yeah, and PS, stop wasting your F’in time on making US-centric copyright laws to allow US lawyers to sue Canadians to enrich US mega-corps !!

    • johnnyjoe

      Great point my wireless bill is about $70 with tax actually a bit less than what I payed when I lived in the UK. Also the highest data package you could get on the network I was with was 1gb ( o2 uk, the biggest uk provider) and if you wanted unlimited calling it was 78 pounds, if you convert this to cdn$ its more than 100. If you use data canadian prices on the big 3 are actually cheaper than the UK. the reason the average bill in the UK is so much smaller is because their data usage is much lower.
      How about addressing some real problems like the crazy rent I pay in vancouver, ridiculous prices for food, clothing and gas. Stop worrying about large bills because someone wants the latest phone for zero dollars and they ‘need’ to update facebook and watch youtube videos. If you need a phone with unlimited calling etc there are options out there. I actually need food, clothing somewhere to live and gas to get to work.

  • A

    Actually I pay 52.00 for 6 gig of data sharable on Bell, I brought my own phone so they gave me a 10 percent discount. Also included is my 10 canada, 200 free minutes daytime , unlimited texting and free evening and weekends not saying its perfect , but all 3 were offering these plans all summer (and I can use it anywhere in Canada).

    The only reason people sign a contract is to get a free phone, buck up and pay for the phone and then you can do what you wish with no contracts.

  • AlbertaCellGuy

    So, I work for one of the “Big 3″ and when customers come into the store, I’ve had the opportunity many times over and I have begged, pleaded and tried to do everything I can as a representative of one of these companies to talk to our retention teams to try and strike a deal so my customers can walk away happy…i.e: more data, more minutes and the like. Primarily, the issue is with Data, especially for those who live in rural areas and High Speed Internet is not an option unless you go cellular. Do you want to know what I get as a response? The government subsidizes the service, thus allowing lower costs for parts of the country and where the service is NOT subsidized, we lose out. Honestly, get GOVERNMENT the heck out of the market, tell the CRTC to stick it somewhere where the sun don’t shine, and let the consumer decide what it wants or doesn’t want and MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, we’ll see change. So yes, to the poster who called this political opportunism, I whole-heartedly agree. It is. This is no better than Michael Bloomberg telling people in New York how large their sodas can be. Really? Ditch the nanny state like a BAD HABIT.

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