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    Canadian Telcos Change Tune Over Implementation of CRTC's Consumer Wireless Code With Lawsuit Threat

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    Thursday July 04, 2013
    The CRTC released its consumer wireless code last month, receiving kudos for new measures that should eliminate three-year contracts. Now the major telecom companies are preparing a lawsuit challenging the rules associated with the implementation of the code. While the code will take effect for any new, renewed, or changed contracts starting on December 2, 2013, the CRTC has stated that all consumers should benefit from the code by June 3, 2015 or two years after its initial release. The telcos object to this position, arguing that it retroactively applies new conditions to contracts that existed prior to the start date of the code. According to an affidavit from SaskTel, the major concern involves the potential for consumers on three-year contracts to walk away from those contracts in June 2015 without further payment, despite terms that could run months longer.

    Yet during the wireless hearing, some telcos assured the CRTC that customers would benefit from the code within two years. For example, SaskTel told the Commission that its customers now upgrade their devices (and thus would fall under the code) roughly a year and a half after signing the initial contract:

    Customers are turning over their devices in the second to third year. We have introduced an early device upgrade program in October of last year which gives customers the ability to upgrade their device at any time. Since we have implemented that program we've seen customers upgrading after about 17.5 months.


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    Discussing the CRTC Consumer Wireless Code on CTV's Power Play

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    Tuesday June 04, 2013
    I appeared yesterday on CTV's Power Play to discuss the CRTC's Consumer Wireless Code. The video can be accessed here.

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    CRTC Releases New Wireless Code That Should Eliminate Three Year Contracts

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    Monday June 03, 2013
    The CRTC released its much-anticipated consumer wireless code this morning. While much of the code remains unchanged from an earlier draft proposal, the headline-grabbing change is that the Commission has effectively brought three-year contracts to an end. The issue of contract length was the top issue raised by consumers, who argued that Canadian wireless contracts were longer than most other countries and that they represented a significant barrier to effective competition.

    While the incumbent wireless carriers argued that consumers like three-year contracts, the CRTC sided with consumers. Effective December 2, 2013, consumers will be allowed to terminate their wireless contracts after two years with no cancellation fees. The ability to cancel with no further costs should result in two years becoming the standard for a long-term wireless contract. It will be interesting to see how quickly the carriers implement this change as smart consumers may decide to delay signing new contracts unless they are protected by the new wireless code if the carriers insist on retaining early cancellation fees in the final year of a three-year contract until the code takes effect.


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    Competition Bureau to the CRTC on Wireless Code: Be Bolder

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    Thursday February 07, 2013
    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.


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