How fast is your Internet connection, really? How good is it, anyway? How can you tell?
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is rightly interested in this question. So the CRTC contracted with SamKnows, a “global internet measurement and analysis platform”, to collect data in October 2019 on the performance of broadband Internet services sold to Canadian consumers. The results were published in a report, “Measuring Broadband Canada,” released in June 2020, at the tail of the “first wave” of COVID-19 in Canada. The outcome according to the CRTC?:
“Canadian consumers are receiving maximum advertised Internet speeds”. PIAC was suspicious.
Consumers deserve compensation for losses due to COVID-19 cancellations that were not their fault. Bailing out airlines without the condition that these customers’ losses be compensated is not acceptable.
The proposed lower-cost data plans outlined in the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission decision from today are unlikely to be used and will not help provide more affordable options to Canadians. None of the proposed plans exceed 1 GB of data and only Rogers’ plans offer a voice and text allowance in addition to data for the price of $30. In effect, today’s decision was: “Much ado about nothing.”
PIAC is concerned about these proposals. Moving from licensing to voluntary agreements is not a bad idea in principle, but we feel it will only work if the CRTC is given a strengthened bargaining position beyond existing incentives it says it will use to entice programming distributors to help fund Canadian content. More crucially, requiring telecommunications service providers to contribute to Canadian production is fundamentally unfair because it forces telecom (Internet, wireless and home phone) users to subsidize programming they may not be able to afford.
However, having found that “the banks” nurture a culture of overselling, that that overselling creates a “risk” of breaching obligations to consumers, and that the banks effectively do not monitor or control this risk, the FCAC then confidently proclaims that it: “did not find widespread mis-selling during its review”. Really? So, although there was a great risk of poor behaviour due to corporate sales culture, misaligned incentives, and virtually no oversight or internal controls, “the banks” were somehow resisting temptation to oversell to customers? While this may be theoretically possible, PIAC believes this conclusion is unlikely.
PIAC welcomes the CRTC’s decision to implement the Television Service Provider Code (Code), allowing Canadians to make well-informed choices. CCTS, an independent ombudsman, will now review consumer complaints about TV subscriptions.
On September 8th, PIAC was invited by the CRTC to represent consumers' views at a hearing held by the CRTC regarding the 'skinny basic' service which was implemented by all Canadian TV providers earlier this year. The hearing served as somewhat of a follow-up on the direction of TV over the last few months.
As of March 1st, 2016, all subscription TV (cable, IPTV, satellite) providers in Canada will have to offer a 'skinny basic' package, and the option to add on, at least, smaller packages of up to 10 channels or, at their option, à la carte pricing of channels – known as “pick and pay” (true pick and pay for all TV service providers will be required in December 2016).
The annual “Prime Time in Ottawa” conference hosted by the Canadian Media Production (or is that “Producers”) Association kicked off yesterday and PIAC’s Executive Director, John Lawford, attended. The conference brings together media producers, distributors and regulators.
The mood was quietly fearful. The CRTC’s Talk TV suite of decisions are now heading into the first phase with required skinny basic packages required to be offered by TV distributors as of 1 March 2016. Almost everyone expected this to cause much pain for producers as distributors lost revenue as consumers trimmed TV packages to the skinny offering. Pick and pay, which is the other shoe to drop from the Talk TV decision, does not fully come into force until December 2016. However, it already is the subject of much uncertainty, which participants said was additive to the largest concern: the non-contribution of “over-the-top” (OTT) services to the Canadian Media Fund and other funds dedicated to supporting Canadian production.