Archive for CRTC

Big Three Under CRTC Investigation Over Roaming Charges

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on December 13, 2013 by itnerd

If you’re a customer of Mobilicity, Public Mobile, or Wind Mobile, you have to deal with roaming. In short, if you leave any of their networks, you have to use one of the networks of the big three carriers. And it costs you big. That got the attention of the CRTC and they’ve decided to investigate what the big three charge for roaming and if it provides an “unfair competitive disadvantage”:

Based on information obtained by the CRTC, some of the large providers are charging, or proposing to charge, their smaller Canadian competitors significantly higher wholesale roaming rates than those charged to U.S.-based wireless companies. Wholesale rates are different from, but can impact, the retail rates companies charge to their customers.

“We are concerned that some wireless companies may be making it unfairly difficult for Canadian providers that do not operate a national network to compete in the marketplace,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC. “We have the authority to ensure that companies do not give themselves an unfair competitive advantage. This includes charging wholesale wireless roaming rates that are unjustly discriminatory or by insisting on unduly restrictive terms and conditions. If we find that this is happening in the market, we will act to rectify the situation.”

This is a good thing as I’ve always been concerned that new entrants were always were going to be, for lack of a better description, hosed by the big three as a means of keeping them from being real competition. We’ll see if anything comes of it, but I suspect something might as wireless pricing is a priority of the Canadian Government.

The Big Three Wireless Carriers Say No To CRTC’s Wireless Code Of Conduct

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on July 3, 2013 by itnerd

From the “why am I not surprised” file comes this story from the CBC where it’s being reported that Rogers, Bell, and Telus have decided to challenge the CRTC’s attempt to create a wireless code of conduct for them. This code was to start to take effect later this year, but this challenge delays that to who knows when. Now I’ve previously said this about what the CRTC was trying to do:

Don’t get me wrong. Creating rules, boundaries, and limitations around how cell phone carriers behave is a start. But I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again. What’s needed is competition and competition of the Orange, T-Mobile, or Vodafone sort. If one of those carriers comes into this market and sets up shop, Rogers, Bell and Telus will change how they do business so fast that you’d get whiplash.

I still stand by that. The fact that Verizon is looking at coming into Canada is the way that this problem is going to solved once and for all. The CRTC creating rules for the big three carriers to follow isn’t going to get the job done. Still, it wouldn’t hurt if Canadians who don’t like this sent a e-mail or two towards their local MP to express their displeasure with the way things are with the wireless industry in Canada.

 

Hey IT Nerd! What Do You Think Of The CRTC Bringing In New Rules For Wireless Companies?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on June 4, 2013 by itnerd

This clearly is a hot topic as five people asked me this question yesterday. But let me recap. The CRTC yesterday announced new rules for wireless carriers. Now there are good things and bad things about this. Here’s the good:

  • You get to cancel your contract at no cost after a maximum of two years instead of three years.
  • You can get your phone unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if you paid in full for your phone
  • You get the right to receive a notification when you are roaming in a different country, telling you what the rates are for voice services, text messages, and data usage
  • Carriers have to limit your data overage charges to $50 a month and your data roaming charges to $100 a month
  • No extra charges for a service described as “unlimited”
  • Your contact must be easy to understand.

Here’s the bad news. If a carrier breaks those rules, they can expect to pay a fine of $5000 per occurrence. If you find that to be absurdly low amount, you’re right. After all, the three big carriers make hundreds of millions of dollars. A few thousand dollars means nothing. That’s the cost of business for Telus, Bell, and Rogers.

As for increasing competition, the jury is out on that. With the ability to switch carriers after 2 years and the ability to unlock phones, it may make things a bit better. My feeling is that true competition will only come when a deep pocketed foreign carrier sets up shop in Canada and rapidly builds a nationwide infrastructure. That will make wireless service affordable. Having said that, this is a start. But it’s only a start.

Hey IT Nerd! What Do You Think Of The CRTC Hearings Into Canadian Cellphone Carriers?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on February 11, 2013 by itnerd

For those who are reading this blog from someplace other than Canada, the CRTC is having hearings this week in an attempt to come up with a code of conduct for cell phone carriers in Canada. They feel that this is needed because of the fact that Canadian consumers feel that wireless carriers are taking advantage of Canadians by having long contracts and phones that are locked to a single carrier among other things. The CBC has a good write up on this topic.

So what do I think of these hearings? Not much really. Don’t get me wrong. Creating rules, boundaries, and limitations around how cell phone carriers behave is a start. But I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again. What’s needed is competition and competition of the Orange, T-Mobile, or Vodafone sort. If one of those carriers comes into this market and sets up shop, Rogers, Bell and Telus will change how they do business so fast that you’d get whiplash. None of what the CRTC is holding hearings over would happen if there was real competition. Thus the way to solve the problem is to let some competition in.

Telemarketers To Foot The Bill For Do Not Call Registry

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on May 1, 2012 by itnerd

Frequent readers will recall that a Do Not Call Registry was set up in Canada back in 2008 and Canadians signed up in droves to ensure that their dinners are not interrupted by telemarketers. Yesterday it was announced that the Federal Government is going to make the telemarketers pay for the registry:

The government wants telemarketers, not the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, to shoulder the full cost of the Do Not Call List, explained Alberta MP Mike Lake, parliamentary secretary to Industry Minister Christian Paradis.

“The program is working,” Mr. Lake said in an interview. “We want to make sure that system is sustainable in the long term.”

Mr. Lake would not say what options are on the table for recouping the cost of enforcement and investigating violators, adding that the funding mechanism would be determined in consultation with the industry.

Mr. Lake is right. It is working as the government has slapped those who ignore the registry very hard. Plus I have had little if no contact from telemarketers since I signed up for the service. With this move, it makes sure that this registry has stable funding and maybe give them another incentive to act responsibly.

We’ll see how telemarketers push back on this as I would imagine that they’re not happy campers right now.

Rogers To End Throttling In March…. Don’t Celebrate

Posted in Commentary with tags , on February 9, 2012 by itnerd

I’ve openly wondered how long Rogers would take to match Bell in putting an end to throttling their users. Seeing as their traffic management system has been pretty craptastic over the years, it’s long overdue. This week, Rogers announced that throttling was coming to an end via a letter to the CRTC:

In addition, we have been reviewing our traffic shaping policy for several months. New technologies and ongoing investments in network capacity will allow Rogers to begin phasing out that policy starting in March 2012. These changes will be introduced to half of Rogers existing Internet customers by June 2012 and to its remaining customers by December 2012. It will be rolled out in stages to make sure that customers continue to receive a reliable, consistent and fast high speed internet experience.

Of course, the story doesn’t end there. They denied that anything was wrong:

Of course, there have been a few isolated cases of misclassification on other ports which led to the complaint that was referred to the Compliance and Enforcement Sector. However, the issue which you have identified has nothing to do with this misclassification, and we do not believe that it has anything to do with the problems which a few of our customers have experienced while playing online games.

You know, customers of mine who rely on VPNs, play online games would beg to differ. But whatever. As long as throttling ends, users will like that. Now you can fully expect Rogers to jack the pricing of their Internet service shortly thereafter the final death knell of throttling. Because if Rogers doesn’t get you in one way, they’ll get you in another.

 

Rogers Cited By CRTC For Net Neutrality Violations

Posted in Commentary with tags , on January 28, 2012 by itnerd

To absolutely nobody’s shock, the CRTC  has decided that Rogers is violating net neutrality rules in Canada. I say that because their traffic management system has been absolutely brutal towards users. Just ask anyone playing World of Warcraft on Rogers. Not to mention that I’ve not only been talking about this topic forever, but I’ve also been calling on Rogers to ditch their crappy traffic management system since it clearly doesn’t work. In any case, the CRTC via a letter has given Rogers until Feb. 3rd to address this….or else. Seeing as the CRTC is pretty much useless (after all, the CRTC threatened Rogers last year), I don’t expect them to really hit Rogers hard… Though they really deserve to be punished for their behavior towards their users.

So will Rogers actually do anything meaningful to fix this? I doubt it. But they could surprise me and actually do something in the interests of their users rather than against them. I suspect that it’s not going to happen, which is too bad.

CRTC Says Rogers Violates Internet Rules… Shock, Not…

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on October 27, 2011 by itnerd

If you get your Internet from Rogers, this will not come as any great shock to you. According to the CRTC, Rogers violates federal rules because of the way it slows traffic and has decided to look into the matter further:

The probe stems from a complaint by the Canadian Gamers Organization, an advocacy group for people who play video games, that Rogers has been hindering online games.

You might remember that Rogers had been caught throttling World Of Warcraft users a while back, though they said that they fixed the problem. Of course the fact that the CRTC wanted them to stop throttling likely had something to do with that. But then, nobody believed that they had fixed the problem anyway. In any case, here’s what the CRTC is going to do:

The CRTC informed the gamers group on Thursday that it has referred the matter to its enforcement division, meaning commission staff consider Rogers to be violating the Telecommunications Act or CRTC regulations. Those rules allow throttling of peer-to-peer file sharing programs like BitTorrent, but not of time-sensitive internet traffic like video chatting or gaming.

It means that penalties could be on the way, which won’t be good for Rogers. Here’s what they could be facing:

If the CRTC confirms Rogers is in violation, the regulator can go so far as to order the company to partially reimburse customers and to change its practices.

I’ve been extremely critical about Rogers over the years because their traffic management system has proven to be such a #fail. If there was ever a time for Rogers to come clean and deal with this issue in an honest and forthright manner (which up until now they haven’t come close to doing), now would be the time. I don’t expect them to, so I hope the CRTC for once slaps them silly and shows that they aren’t just the pawns of the telco industry.

CRTC Announces Usaged Based Billing Hearings…. Perpare For Their Lies

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 13, 2011 by itnerd

Make your plans for July. That’s when the CRTC plans to hold hearings on the whole usage based billing fiasco:

Canadians will have an opportunity to share their views at a public hearing starting on July 11th in Gatineau, Que. The CRTC will also hold an online consultation. Details of both the hearing and consultation will be announced shortly

Shockingly… Well not really… The CRTC has a gotcha or two in mind:

The CRTC will not be expanding the scope, as requested by several parties, to include the billing practices for retail Internet services. There is no evidence that market forces are not working properly in this unregulated market.

Finally, the CRTC will not review, as was also requested by several parties, the overall regulatory framework for wholesale high-speed Internet access services. The overall framework was not part of the decision that is being reviewed, and it would not be appropriate to initiate such a wide-ranging review within the current proceeding.

Basically, this is one of the CRTC’s attempts to solicit public input and then do whatever they feel like. That’s why it’s vital for Canadians to see through this and keep the pressure up on the Conservative government who have already committed to killing any attempt by the CRTC to go ahead with usage based billing.

Bell Claims That Usage Based Billing Is Good For Canadians….. WTF?

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 8, 2011 by itnerd

Clearly Bell is running scared because I was pointed to this page on their website that has all the credibility of the Iraqi Information Minister. Just check out how they argue that usage based billing is good for Canadians:

  • Bell offers retail usage packages from 25 gigabytes (GB) to 75 GB a month. Customers can buy even more at affordable prices – $5 for 40 GB more, $10 for 80 GB, $15 for 120 GB. 
  • That’s a very generous amount of usage – keep in mind that even 60 GB will get you 300 hours of standard definition video streaming or 50 hours of non-stop HD video streaming!
  • Yet average usage on our network is just 16 GB per month and half of our customer base uses just 5 GB a month.

Oh really? This sort of dis-information ignores services like Netflix. But why acknowledge that Canadians want to use services on the Internet that consume bandwidth without the fear that they’re going to get raped ripped off by their telco?

Oh yeah, they also mention this:

Those with an interest in maintaining unlimited Internet access for themselves – that minority of wholesale customers who often download hundreds of gigabytes per month – are eager to confuse regular users of the Internet into believing they will be negatively impacted by usage-based billing for wholesale. But the reality is quite the opposite: If super-heavy downloaders are allowed to keep using up extraordinary amounts of network capacity, we’ll all have to pay more. And that’s just not fair.

They have to be kidding. The reality is that Bell isn’t interested in looking out for the interests of Canadians. The fact is that they want to gouge Internet users in Canada, plain and simple. After all, the costs for bandwidth is dirt cheap to a major telco like Bell. Not that they want you to know how little they pay for bandwidth. But why would they use accurate facts in an argument where they clearly would end up on the losing end of said argument.

To ensure that they lose this argument, Canadians should click here and sign this petition put forward by Liberal MP and ex space shuttle astronaut Marc Garneau or this one put forward by Open Media. Canadians should make it clear that they won’t put up with this sort of nonsense from their telcos.

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