The Competition Bureau yesterday posted its submission to the CRTC on its draft wireless code. The key message from the Bureau: be bolder. The Bureau expresses concern with the competitiveness of the wireless telecom sector in Canada:
certain impediments continue to diminish the effect of competitive forces in this industry. First, certain industry practices have tended to impose costs on consumers who wish to avail themselves of competitive alternatives. Second, consumers are not always provided with sufficient information in an adequately clear manner to make informed purchase decisions. These features can deprive consumers, competitors, and the Canadian economy of the beneficial effects of competition in this industry, namely lower prices, higher quality service, and greater innovation. This submission provides recommendations on how the Wireless Code can minimize the effect of these impediments.
The lack of information is a concern that forms the foundation of the draft CRTC code. Yet the Bureau focuses first on industry practices that have a negative impact on consumer choice. In particular, the “Bureau supports measures to limit contract length and to ensure that consumers maintain the ability to move from one service provider to another.” The Bureau also wants a ban on device locking:
Locked handsets are a powerful block to consumers who want to switch service providers. The Bureau believes that device locking should be prohibited in the marketplace, and that service providers should be required to unlock any previously locked devices free of charge.
and a prohibition on tying wireless service contracts with device subsidy contracts. I posted my column on the issue earlier this week with many of the same recommendations.