Archive for CRTC

CRTC To Put An End To Locked Cell Phones And Unlocking Fees

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 15, 2017 by itnerd

I have been a very vocal critic of the CRTC for years. But today, I will give them credit where credit is due. They have just put out a release that says this:

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today announced that as of December 1, 2017, all individual and small business wireless service customers will have the right to have their cellphones and other mobile devices unlocked free of charge upon request. In addition, all newly purchased devices must be provided unlocked from that day forward.

The corner offices at Rogers, Bell, and Telus must be seriously upset right now. I say that because every time a customer comes to them to unlock a phone, that’s $50 CDN in their pockets. Now that revenue is gone. And I seriously expect a mass stampede of customers who will be dialing up their carrier on December 1st to get their phones unlocked.

The net result is two fold:

  1. This decision gives Canadian consumers more choice in terms of their wireless provider and what they pay as they can now bring their own device and leverage a lower cost plan to get cell service. As long as they are out of contract of course. The net result might be increased competition between Canadian carriers to hold on to their customers.
  2. If you travel, you can now use a local SIM card rather than using a carrier’s roaming package as using a local SIM card will cost you way less than any roaming option that is offered by any Canadian carrier. The net result might be Canadian carriers providing more cost effective to ensure that you don’t use a local SIM card on your next trip overseas which would deprive them of revenue.

We’ll have to see how that shakes out around December 1st. But in the here and now, kudos to the CRTC for finally doing something that benefits Canadian Consumers.

 

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CRTC Rules In Favor Of Net Neutrality In Canada

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 20, 2017 by itnerd

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today decided in favour of historic Net Neutrality rules that prevent ISPs from unfairly manipulating data caps to discriminate against certain apps and services.

This decision comes from a 2015 complaint against the wireless carrier Videotron, which primarily operates in Quebec. Videotron launched a feature in August of that year, enabling customers to stream music from services such as Spotify and Google Play Music without it counting against a monthly data cap as a way to entice people to subscribe to Videotron’s internet service. In short, Videotron and any other ISP can’t do this.

This is a huge win for Canadians. And I am guessing Americans who recently had a lot of their rights on the Internet yanked out from under them are now wishing that they lived in Canada

 

The CRTC Declares Broadband Internet Access In Canada To Be A Basic Service

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 21, 2016 by itnerd

Finally, the CRTC does something that I will applaud them for. Actually, they did two things.

First, they declared that Broadband Internet access in Canada is a basic service. That means ISPs have to start providing Broadband Internet access to all Canadians. That includes rural areas and the artic.

Second, the CRTC has set new targets for internet service providers to offer customers in all parts of the country download speeds of at least 50 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 10 Mbps, and to also offer the option of unlimited data. 

Cool.

To achieve that, the CRTC will require providers pay into a fund to facilitate these moves. The companies will be able to dip into that fund to help pay for the infrastructure needed to extend high-speed service to areas where it is not currently available. It also is supposed to keep the telcos from passing these costs along to customers. Good luck with that. 

Finally, the CRTC figures that two million Canadian households, or roughly 18 per cent, don’t have access to those speeds or data. The CRTC’s goal is to reduce that to 10 per cent by 2021 and down to zero in the next 10 to 15 years.

My take? These are all great moves that if they pan out. I will be interested to see if the CRTC will back this up with legislation if the telcos don’t play ball. Which given their track record, I would not be surprised if they don’t. I guess we’ll have to wait and see, and hold both the CRTC and Canadian telcos to account.

T9-1-1 Service Goes Live In Canada

Posted in Commentary with tags , on December 1, 2016 by itnerd

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association announced today that in partnerships with public safety agencies across the country and the CRTC, that T9-1-1 service has launched in Canada.

T9-1-1 provides 9-1-1 call centres with the ability to converse via text messaging with a DHHSI person during an emergency. When a DHHSI person requires 9-1-1 services, they dial 9-1-1 on their cell phone. There is no need for a caller to speak or hear, as the 9-1-1 call taker should receive an indicator that advises them to communicate with the caller via text messaging. The 9-1-1 call taker then initiates text messaging with the caller to address the emergency.

The service, which began rolling out in March 2014, is now available to the vast majority of Canadians, including in many parts of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, and province-wide in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Islandand Saskatchewan. Some 9-1-1 call centres are still making the necessary upgrades to their systems and will launch the T9-1-1 service in the coming months.

T9-1-1 is only available to those in the DHHSI community. A DHHSI person must first register for T9-1-1 with their wireless service provider and must have an eligible cell phone before being able to utilize this service. All information about T9-1-1, including registration details and areas of service availability, can be found at www.TextWith911.ca.

One key thing to point out is that voice calling remains the only way to communicate with 9-1-1 services for a person that is not deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or with speech impairment. Text messages sent directly to the digits “9-1-1” do not reach emergency services.

Why “Pick And Pay” Is A #Fail For Canadian Consumers

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 1, 2016 by itnerd

Starting today, the CRTC has mandated that cable companies on top of offering you a “skinny bundle”, offer you the ability to “pick and pay” for only the channels that you want rather than being forced into a bundle of channels that you may or may not want.

It sounds good on the surface, but it’s really a #Fail for Canadian consumers, and the root of that failure is the CRTC. I say that because the core issue is that Canadians are paying way too much for their telco services.And on top of the fact that Canadian Telcos found ways to keep people from picking the “skinny bundle”, the CRTC made the startling comment that the point of the “skinny bundle” wasn’t to save consumers money. Instead, it was to give consumers choice. That in itself is a very illogical statement.

Fast forward to today and the launch of “pick and pay” where you can pick the channels you want and pay anywhere from $4 a month to as high as $20 or more for some speciality channels. The good news is that you can pick the channels that you want. The bad news is that it won’t save you money. The CBC has this example:

“Am I allowed to laugh?” said Gilda Spitz when asked for her reaction to the prices for the new line-up of stand-alone channels offered by Rogers. Most cost $4 or $7 each.

As of Thursday, TV providers must offer individual pick and pay specialty channels plus ones grouped in theme packs that customers can add to their TV plans.

Spitz, who lives in Toronto, had signed up her 88-year-old mother for a basic $24.99 TV package with Rogers. But her mother, Liza Eshanou, only wanted to watch two all-news networks not included — CNN and CP24.

So, Spitz was paying $15 extra per month for two theme packs that included those networks. When Rogers launched pick and pay on Wednesday, she hoped for a better deal

But she didn’t get it.

Turns out, to add CNN and CP24 individually, Spitz would pay $14 a month instead of $15. That’s only a $1 savings, and her mother would lose a handful of extra channels included in the theme packs.

“That’s ludicrous; that’s ridiculous,” said Spitz.

I agree. That’s just ludicrous. What Rogers and the other telcos have done is constructed a system that ensures that they make the same amount of money from you regardless of whether you choose the channels that you want, or you pick a bundle. That’s because the CRTC by its own admission doesn’t regulate prices:

The CRTC is not expressing concern over channel prices. Although it mandated a basic TV package priced at $25 or less, the commission told CBC News it doesn’t regulate retail rates.

“Prices for certain channels may be higher for this reason,” said spokeswoman Céline Legault in an email.

Of course the fact that the CRTC is made up of people who used to work for telcos like Bell, Rogers, Telus and the like might have something to do with that, and the fact that they don’t get that what Canadians want is their telco services at a fair price. And at present, they are getting anything but that. Thus further illustrating that the CRTC needs to be deep sixed for a government body that will actually protect consumers in Canada when it comes to their telco services, rather than being the foxes guarding the henhouse.

CRTC Fails Miserably To Address Compliance Issues With netTALK

Posted in Commentary with tags , on October 25, 2016 by itnerd

The last time I wrote about netTALK, the VoIP provider who in a dispute with a company called Iristel, and as a side effect to that, they took the phone service of thousands of Canadians offline for several days. In my last story on this topic, Jeremy Cooperstock wrote a letter to the CRTC in regards to netTALK being a non-compliant provider according to the CRTC and CCTS, and the fact that netTALK failed to deliver on their promise of one year of free service. Mr Cooperstock got a reply from the CRTC via Patrick Desjardins who is the Information Officer of the CRTC. Here it is: 

Dear Mr. Cooperstock:

As discussed on Friday over the phone, the issue in question is not within the CRTC’s purview. Should you wish to pursue the matter, we would advise you to seek legal representation.

So… At this point you have to ask what good is the CRTC? After all, thousands of Canadians had their phone service offline for days. And it’s not like the fact that netTALK is a non-compliant telco is a new discoveryThere’s no way that should be acceptable to the CRTC, but clearly it is. And that quite frankly an #EpicFail. Canadians deserve better from their telco regulators. One wonders if better will ever come.

Now when it comes to netTALK, my advice remains the same. They are a non-compliant member of the CCTS. From what I can tell, they have never made a penny. Plus they don’t follow through on their promises. Avoid them at all costs as they are a telco that won’t be around in the long term. That will only hurt you in the end.

I will continue to monitor this for any new developments from either the CRTC or netTALK.

netTALK Back In The News For All The Wrong Reasons

Posted in Commentary with tags , on October 1, 2016 by itnerd

It’s been a few months since I wrote anything about VoIP provider netTALK who last made the news because they got into a dispute with a company called Iristel, and as a side effect to that, they took the phone service of thousands of Canadians offline for several days. One of the things that I discovered that the CRTC threatened netTALK with “enforcement action” back in 2013 because they didn’t join the CCTS which is something that netTALK has to do. But here we are in 2016 and no “enforcement action” appears to have been taken to date. 

Well, one person wants to know why. I was alerted to a letter written by Jeremy Cooperstock to Patrick Desjardins who is the Information Officer of the CRTC. Among other things, Mr. Copperstock mentions this: 

As we discussed on Friday, I understand from the CCTS that netTALK is a non-compliant provider whom they referred to the CRTC in April for enforcement action. When I asked the CCTS “But do [netTALK’s] customers still have no recourse for the broken promises?”, I was referred to the June 8 letter from the CRTC and directed to contact you.

If you click on the first link, you will see that there is clear evidence that netTALK continues to be a non-compliant provider and nothing has been done about it by the CRTC or CCTS. If you click the second link, you will notice that the CRTC has decided to do nothing about the fact that thousands of Canadians had their phone service taken offline for days. That further highlights the fact that there needs to be a telecommunications regulator in Canada who is prepared to hold telcos accountable for the actions.

There’s one other thing that I need to point out in this letter:

As for my own situation, after complaining on September 24 that the service renewal letter I received did not include any compensation for being deprived of telephone service for five days in January of this year, I was only offered, in response, a single month of free service (a value of approximately $4).

And:

Needless to say, this is a clear breach of the earlier offer of one year of free service as compensation for the outage that deprived approximately 27,000 Canadians of their telephone service.

It is one thing for netTALK and Iristel to engage in mudslinging during a commercial dispute, but quite another when netTALK issues a written commitment to its customers and then reneges on this undertaking.

What he’s referring to is the fact that during this dispute, netTALK promised a year of free service, then appeared to backtrack on that once service was restored to affected customers. That left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. And this is one among many reasons why netTALK needs to be avoided at all costs.

I will monitor this to see where this goes as clearly this story is far from over and it will be interesting to see if the CRTC and CCTS do the right thing and do some sort of “enforcement action” against netTALK. If they don’t, it tells you all you need to know about both of those regulatory bodies. As in, they don’t work for the interests of Canadians.