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Manitoba consumers fear price hikes, data caps if BCE buys MTS: Poll

Tuesday, 7 June 2016 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TORONTO – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (Ottawa), on behalf of the Consumers’ Association of Canada, and the Public Interest Law Centre (Manitoba), on behalf of the Manitoba branch of the Consumers’ Association of Canada, today released a poll of Manitobans showing high levels of concern with the proposed takeover of Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. (MTS) by BCE Inc. (BCE). In particular, consumers have fears that the merger will raise prices for wireless and internet service and usher in a market with expensive data caps in Manitoba.

If the deal goes through, 53% of present MTS customers said prices for Internet access would rise (only 8% said they would drop); 54% thought wireless prices would rise (8% drop).  More alarmingly, 75% expect data caps will be introduced by the new BCE-MTS in home internet service and 74% believe unlimited data plans will disappear for BCE-MTS wireless customers.

A majority of all poll respondents believe their overall communications bill would rise (51% expect a price rise versus 10% who expect a drop).  Moreover, 59% disagreed that BCE’s takeover of MTS would lead to accelerated high-speed Internet rollout in rural Manitoba.

“Manitoba consumers think the BCE offer for MTS will hurt them where it matters most – in the wallet”, said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel to PIAC, “They know the deal is bad news for Manitoba and they’ll lose the competitive market that’s delivered low prices and unlimited Internet.”

The poll was conducted by Environics via an Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) telephone survey of 1,048 residents of Manitoba age 18 and over on May 31 and June 1, 2016. 789 surveys were conducted by landline and 259 were completed by cell phone.  The margin of error is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points (at the 95% confidence level).

A copy of the Environics poll (Excel format) and a summary of main findings (Powerpoint) are available on the PIAC website (www.piac.ca).

For more information:

John Lawford

Executive Director and General Counsel

Public Interest Advocacy Centre

(613) 447-8125 (cell)

(613) 562-4002 x25 (office)

jlawford@piac.ca

Mr. Lawford is available for in-person interviews at the 2016 Canadian Telecom Summit at the Toronto Congress Centre, June 7 and 8.

Bruce Cran

President

Consumers’ Association of Canada

(604) 418-8359

bcranbiz@telus.net

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