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.
On August 13, the Ontario government launched a public consultation to solicit input on “creating a legislative framework for privacy in the province’s private sector,” citing longstanding public concern over data privacy intensified by increased reliance on digital platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic. While there have been rumblings of reform at the federal level, including the government’s May 2019 release of an aspirational “Digital Charter” and accompanying proposals for modernizing PIPEDA, it’s not clear how extensive the changes will be, or when Canadians can expect them, especially with the parliamentary schedule having been disrupted by the pandemic. The introduction of an Ontario data protection strategy might thus come as a welcome development to those eager for reform who are understandably frustrated being at the mercy of a slow-moving federal process. But there are more reasons to be wary of further fragmenting privacy legislation along provincial or territorial lines.
Scammers are continuously finding new ways to mislead consumers and take undue advantage of vulnerable individuals. Scam artists have been using the panic and uncertainty regarding COVID-19 to prey on consumers. As more information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, the number of fraudulent activities increase, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit scams. In these times of uncertainty, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre encourages you to exercise extreme caution to avoid falling for these scams and protect your finances.
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.
PIAC is writing to express its views and concerns regarding the recent measures announced by the Canadian Transportation Agency during the COVID-19 pandemic and note its implications for air passengers. These changes will apply from March 13, 2020 until June 30, 2020. The CTA has posted a guide on its website that explains the temporary changes in place. We look at some measures.
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.
Every year, the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) publishes a report seeking to prove that Canada’s telecommunications industry compares favorably with other jurisdictions.
Throughout its analysis, the MEI simply places too great a premium on having the latest and greatest technology. Consumers care far more about getting a fair price and high usage allowance. Allowing telecommunications carriers to exercise their market power sacrifices what consumers care about most for luxury options they would happily do without.
When a customer of Tello Mobile (a US wireless service provider) roams in Canada, they pay 3¢/minute for calls and 1¢/SMS. Plus, the customer does not have to top-up their account to keep it from expiring. The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and National Pensioners Federation (NPF) have filed an application with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today seeking to address this gap in the Canadian market.