To say the least, System Access Fees are a touchy subject here in Canada. While the carriers sub brands have graciously waived the fees, Bell, Rogers and Telus continue charge between $6.95 to $8.95 per month. Unlike years ago when the government implemented the fees to pay for building wireless networks, this is no longer the case and brings in an estimated $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion a year in revenue for the carriers.
However there is a very small sliver of hope. The Star is reporting the big 3 have filed a request with Industry Canada to reduce the $130 million licensing fees they pay each year to access public airwaves, stating they are at a competitive disadvantage because it only costs the federal government an estimated $3.8 million to manage the public resource.
Could this mean that we will finally reap the benefits and be done with the SAF? Would these extra millions come back to us customers? Don’t start holding your breath. With the carriers filing the request to the government Keith McIntosh, director of regulatory affairs for the CWTA said “There’s an impact on the costs to the carriers, and any impact on costs reduces the available money for investment or driving down prices”. So the more the carriers pay out, the more us consumers pay the carriers. Solid business model.
The solution is this according to Bell Mobility… a “spectrum fee holiday” that would be put in place to suspend them paying millions in licensing fees each year. However, there is nowhere in the submitted documents that the millions would eventually come back to us customers. Bell spokeswoman Julie Smithers said “it was too early to say what impact a change in government policy would have on Bell’s customers, but noted there hasn’t been a direct link between the company’s $8.95 wireless system access fee and federal spectrum licensing fees for years.”
The carriers say that the SAF are in place to operate and maintain their network and upgrade their technology. Here is a thought: Wouldn’t it be really cool if every month, since the fees are not mandated by the government and go straight to the carriers bottom line and “building their network”, that us consumers got a kickback say of a certain percentage of the carriers stock a month. Essentially it’s us that is paying for the future technology and shouldn’t we be rewarded?