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“Canada’s cell phone market is dysfunctional and in desperate need of an overhaul.”

openmediachart
Grassroots organization OpenMedia released a timely report this morning. It’s based on their recent “Cellphone Horror Story” poll and declares that “Canada’s cell phone market is dysfunctional and in desperate need of an overhaul.”

Between October 17th, 2012 and February 15th, 2013 there were 2,859 submissions and brings nothing new when compared to the CRTC’s Monitoring report, or the Complaints for Telecommunications (CCTS) annual report. Wireless customers in Canada still feel that they pay too much on a monthly basis, contracts are still confusing to read, and they receive “disrespectful customer service,” plus “feel mistreated by cell phone providers who put excessive profits ahead of quality service.” In total there were 12 categories that kept arising:

1. Notification of additional fees
2. Clarity of advertised prices
3. Clarity of contract terms and conditions
4. Contract cancellation, expiration and (automatic) renewal
5. Changes to contract terms and conditions
6. Roaming
7. Onus / responsibility / fault on consumer when it should be on telecom
8. Application of the code to bundles of telecommunications services
9. Hardware warranties and related issues
10. Service disconnections
11. Loss or theft of hardware
12. Telecom’s customer service accuses customer of lying about problem

Based on their findings Open Media suggests that now is the “time for an upgrade” have outlined four recommendations for the carriers and the government to improve the cell phone market: Canadians want real choice, Canadians want reliable and respectful service, Canadians want fair contracts, and Canadians want transparency. The report also noted that Rogers, Bell and TELUS (plus sub-brands) control almost 94% of the wireless market in Canada and “It’s time for policymakers to take bold action to create a level playing field for service providers, encouraging independent service options and facilitating real choice.”

Much of the suggestions have already been tabled in the recent CRTC National Wireless Code of Conduct, or hopefully will be with the announcement that Christian Paradis, Canada’s Industry Minister, declared this morning (700Mhz spectrum auction, tower sharing and roaming agreements).

Check out the full report here

  • Dalex

    This warrants the biggest DUHHHHH possible.

    • Ban 3yr Contracts FIRST!

      #1 Should be:

      1. Ban 3 yr contracts immediately

      But the CRTC asked the Big three and didn’t like it and took it out OF THE LIST!

      If the CRTC was on the side of the Consumers this would be the list:

      1.let foreign operators into the Canadian Market in 60 days unless the Following issues get resolved in 30.

    • Tom

      They don’t actually have to ‘ban’ 3 year contracts.

      If they made some changes to increase competition and empower consumers – just bringing us up to the level of other countries – 3 year contracts would mostly disappear on their own.

  • MrT

    Why would anything get changed? Aren’t there something like 28 million cell phone users in Canada?

    The only time these companies will change is when their balance sheet tells them to, simple. Why is that so difficult to understand?

    Reminder; the Conservation government we have in power in Canada is constantly bending over for these corporations (that’s the way with Conservatives, business means more than the individual). If you want to even have a hope of things changing, use your vote!

    • aliwhatsit

      #goGarneau

    • JHK

      Exactly.
      They ain’t changing anything until they start losing money.
      Right now, they are making mad cash.

    • Ian

      The Mobile Industry was no better for private individual customers when the Liberals were in power. My solution is to get the cheapest talk & text plan possible for my needs with a phone that supports WiFi and go without mobile data. It means I’m using a two year old model and ignore all the offers to sign up for a new 3 year contract. If many more consumers did the same thing perhaps the Big Three carriers would notice?

  • EK

    People spend time and money on this report? Stating the obvious does not count.

    • Tom

      “Stating the obvious does not count.”

      It’s called marketing and its useful for motivating people – even if it is stating the obvious.

      When I talk to friends/family I find that Robellus are the most hated corp’s in Canada – by a mile – but we need organizations like OpenMedia to help channel and motivate that feeling into political action.

    • Tom

      It’s called marketing and its useful for motivating people – even if it is stating the obvious.

      When I talk to friends/family I find that Robellus are the most hated corp’s in Canada – by a mile – but we need organizations like OpenMedia to help channel and motivate that feeling into political action.

  • James

    The cellular market for consumers is a complete mess. The plan that you and I purchase is no way the same as the the plans that is provided to government employees. Consumers are forced to pay higher rates to increase profits for cellular companies while all government employees and their families pay pretty much next to nothing.

    Example, a government employee only pays 15/month for a plan that includes 1000 minutes, LD for 1.5cents/min, 2GB of data. While you and I pay anywhere up to 75/month for the same plan. Cellular companies state that the money they are making goes into infrastructure upgrades, but I can say for certian I have been in many major cities across Canada and I still experience dead zones with a LTE phone.

    With the freedom of information act, most likely anyone can find out from Public Works of Canada their cellular plans being offered.

    Just a thought.

    • GrapeApe

      Wait a minute !!

      You’re telling me tens of thousands of people can collectively get a better price than me as an individual consumer ?!?!?

      WTF , when did this star !?!

      Oh yeah, it’s always been that way, for cars, clothes, food, everything.

      Your example is one of envy of the concept of ‘buying power’ , big corporations can often negortiate a better price from the sheer size of the demand, and also the operational/suport cost per user is often lower than the cost per individual so it’s easier to charge less for a customer that can balance costs and fluctuations over many MANY users (most of whom don’t use that 2GB or 1,000 mins) rather than an individual who often cuts the cost/benifit models to exactly what that one user needs. It’s the same reason family plans and small business plans are often better than single plans too. The exception often being student plans where the value of a future consumer’s business comes into play in subsidizing the current low plan of someone with no money at present but likely improving in the future.

      Seriously you comment is just as much of a ‘ Well, Duhh !! ‘ as some of the content of the report.

  • ElNad

    The first thing I would like to see the CRTC put into rules is to force the Canadian telecommunication companies to have service centers in Canada.

    I don’t believe Bell clients still have to talk to someone from around the world that speak bad english and horrible french when we have a problem. Bring back the service centers in Canada.

    I say Bell because with Fido and Rogers, I never had a problem to be understood when I needed to talk to somebody. My gf never had a problem with Koodo too so the only times I had problems was with Bell. Never again Bell, NEVER AGAIN.

  • Zod

    Even if you opened up access to foreign players, the cost of entry into the telecommunication sector his high.

    Look at how slowly Wind and Mobilicity are expanding their networks and how much profit they are making.

    Any new entrant also has to built out an infrastructure of cell phone towers. The more players out there the smaller piece of the 30 million customer pie they get.

    IE I don’t think the market would sustain enough players to be competitive even if they opened it up to foreign investment.

    I suppose that means the government should intervene and protect us from the side effects of oligopolies.

  • The Other Dave

    28 million customers over (conservatively) 2 million square kilometers. That’s a huge infrastructure to maintain. And yes, we pay through the a*s to have it. Then you compare us to vastly smaller countries with much higher populations and wonder why they pay less.

    It sucks to pay this much but how do you propose all those cell towers get built and upgraded?

    • Philosoraptor

      Open things up to foreign investment and you’ll see exactly how things get done for less.

      It’s not like our companies are being pro-Canadian at the moment. How many have foreign call centres? How many employees has Rogers laid off despite huge profits?

      I’d give anything for Vodafone or T-Mobile to set up shop here.

  • Malingerer

    Go into the USA and use the service down there. Sh#t coverage and service. I’ll pay a few bucks extra per month to get the quality we have up here, comparably.

    • Jon

      I hear that! I was down there last week and couldn’t for the life of me get a steady LTE signal, even HSPA+ for that matter!

  • RL

    I’d rather be at 2g-3g speeds than feeling violated every time I get a bill.

  • Crashed_Ice

    Let T-Mobile get access to Canada. Then we can have some more reasonable rates and better networks in no time.

    • Jon

      They already said they wouldn’t touch Canada with a ten foot pole after seeing what Wind had to invest in order to get a network up and running… Country is too big and vast to get a decent network going at a budget rate.

  • mike

    They don’t have to ban 3 yr contracts but they should be forced to spread the phone subsidy evenly over the 3 yrs. Too many times a 600 dollar phone gets subsidized maybe a 100 bucks for a 2yr contract but if you sign a 3yr you get it for 0. It basically forces the consumer into signing nothing but 3 yr contracts if they want a subsidized phone. It should be 400 for signing a 1 yr, 200 for signing a 2yr and 0 for a 3yr.

  • Jenny Spaghetti

    Pro-tip: If you don’t want a 3-year contract, don’t sign one. Buy your phone outright like you have to do with every other piece of electronic equipment in your life, and quit whining.

  • Joe Mama

    People realize that they don’t have to sign contracts right? There’s nothing forcing them. Don’t like 3 year contracts? Sign a 2 year one, or 1 year. Or don’t sign a contract at all. That is all possible right now today.

    What people really want is the current 3 year phone subsidy without having to get a 3 year contract. That’s a totally different issue.

  • nexus

    Buy an unlocked phone (nexus 4 is reasonably priced) and don’t sign a contract. You will save in the long run. You can buy a new nexus every year if you put just over a dollar away everyday for a year. If you don’t need a new phone every year even better.

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