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Regulate telecommunications by results not promises consumer group says

An Ottawa-based consumer organization, with a 35-year history of representing consumers in telecommunications work, today released a 218-page report on the need for reform of the regulation and performance of markets for telecom services.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) concludes that ordinary consumers are still not getting the benefits promised to them by industry competition, and, in particular, have received few benefits from the reforms taken by the government in 2006 and 2007 to deregulate telecom services. PIAC’s report principally recommends that policy makers and the regulator stop trying to make decisions based on untested economic theories and make sure that markets actually work for consumers.

“In 2006 and 2007, the government stepped in to tell the CRTC to deregulate as a priority and to deregulate local telephone service faster promising better deals for consumers. As a our report notes, this did not happen despite all the hype”, said Michael Janigan, author of the report, “Waiting for the Dream, The Consumer Brief for Telecom Reform 2010”. In fact, the report concludes that Canada’s performance in telecommunications services such as broadband and wireless has been less than impressive, and the results for customers of cable and satellite services from deregulation of basic service has been the opposite of what should be expected in competitive markets.

“It is one thing to try a course of action that doesn’t work out: it is another to ignore the results and simply try more of the same,” said Janigan. “It doesn’t now make sense to have a government Policy Direction in place that hampers both competition and consumer protection”.

PIAC’s report recommends that the government rescind the Policy Direction of December 2006, and establishing a licensing regime for all carriers with codes of conduct in place for all licensees. It also recommends reforms to the CRTC operations, including the establishment of more powers and resources recommended by the Government’s Policy Review Panel Report of 2006.

Funding of the research on which this report was based was received from Industry Canada’s Contributions Program for Non-Profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations. The views expressed in the report are not necessarily those of Industry Canada or the Government of Canada.

 

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