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Contact: John Lawford, PIAC
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) congratulates the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) on its promise to implement wireless number portability in Canada without undue delay. Under the CWTA plan announced yesterday, Canadians would be able to retain their present cell phone numbers when they change carriers who are CWTA members. This plan is to be finalized by September 1, 2005; however, Canadians will have to wait an unspecified time thereafter for cell phone numbers to become truly portable.
This announcement finally meets a long-standing goal of consumers and PIAC. PIAC’s report “Mobile Number Portability” was distributed to wireless service providers, the CRTC and government policy makers some weeks before the 2005 Federal Budget, which called on the CRTC to “move expeditiously to implement wireless number portability”. In its Report, PIAC concludes that: “the benefits to consumers of wireless (mobile) number portability outweigh the costs to the providers.” PIAC’s Report was made possible through a grant from the Office of Consumer Affairs of Industry Canada. The full report is available on PIAC’s website at: http://www.piac.ca/MNP_draft.pdf .
Canadians are clearly in favour of wireless number portability and want it now. PIAC Counsel John Lawford noted that; “Any industry-sponsored plan to address mobile number portability should be subject to regulatory oversight, the CRTC should approve and guide implementation of the plan” to ensure all wireless carriers, not just CWTA members, are subject to it. He also cautioned that until the details of the plan are known, the potential of wireless number portability might not be fully realized. “For example, any such plan should include portability between not only wireless carriers, but also fixed (wireline) numbers and emerging Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) numbers.”
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“We look forward to the removal of this impediment to consumer choice in wireless services in Canada,” said Lawford.. “While we applaud the CWTA for moving forward on this issue, we hope that they will work in tandem with the CRTC and consumers to ensure it becomes reality in the quickest and most complete fashion.”
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) is a non-profit corporation that provides legal services and research to vulnerable consumers and the organizations that represent them. PIAC’s main areas of advocacy are in the areas of telecommunications, broadcasting, financial services, energy, e-commerce and privacy.