Telecom

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Telecommunications:

  • is an electronic, two-way communication, usually at a distance
  • includes wireless (cellphones, tablets) and wireline telephone and internet services
  • is different from broadcasting, which simply sends the message one way
  • has been a special policy and legal area and has been carefully regulated in Canada since 1905
  • has its own law, the Telecommunications Act.

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Telecom Fail – CCTS Compliance Report 2019

Thursday, November 19th, 2020
Ottawa - 19 November 2020 - Canadian telecommunications companies are unacceptably failing to comply with resolutions and in some cases falsely claiming to resolve consumer complaints to Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS), according to the 2019 Compliance Monitoring Report, says consumer advocacy group the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). "We are shocked, but not surprised, at the companies' variety of non-compliance with a simple complaint resolution scheme for telecom customers," stated John Lawford, PIAC's Executive Director and General Counsel. "Consumers have told us for years that problems exist with the process."

We Fight for That – Episode 3 – What the heck is wholesale with Matt Stein – now available

Monday, November 2nd, 2020
In episode 3 of PIAC's podcast, "We Fight for That", we explore the world of "wholesale" regulation of Internet service and why it matters to consumers with Matt Stein, CNOC President and Chairman, and Distributel CEO. Wholesale regulation of Internet (and wireless, maybe?) is fundamental to competition in Canadian telecommunications services.  We give a short lecture on the concept and then interview Matt Stein, CNOC President and Chairman, and Distributel CEO, to bring listeners up to date on recent disputes about wholesale rates for Internet service and how this arcane regulatory question affects the price consumers pay for Internet as well as the choice of providers and innovation in the industry. Matt reveals why consumers should have optimism that things are going in the right direction.

Seniors and Consumer Groups Petition to Cabinet Restore Paper Billing for Koodo Wireless Customers

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020
OTTAWA, June 2, 2020 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the National Pensioners Federation (NPF) filed yesterday a Petition to Cabinet of the Federal government to reverse the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) decision to allow Koodo Mobile (owned by TELUS Communications Inc.) to change their customers’ monthly bill from paper to electronic format. “Canadian consumers deserve a paper bill if they want or need one,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC.  “The CRTC and wireless companies pretend that seniors and others will not be hurt but that’s not what we heard,” he added.

Ottawa, we have a communications problem …

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020
OTTAWA, 12 May 2020 – The Mid-Year Report 2019-2020 of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) released today shows that Canadian communications customers face a crisis of confidence due to the actions of their service providers. Wireless issues, as in previous years, continue to lead all services in consumer complaints – with 10,527 (44.2%) out of all 23,839 telecommunications and paid TV service complaints – representing a huge 28% year over year increase in wireless complaints relative to other services. However, most disturbing in the report is that the leading complaint category for all services (wireless, home Internet, home phone and TV) was found to be “disclosure issues” – a CCTS euphemism for non-disclosure of key terms or providing misleading information about terms of service to the customer. For the first time, such disagreements topped the more mundane issue of “incorrect charges”, followed, as usual, by “intermittent/inadequate quality of service”.

PIAC Calls for CRTC Oversight of Contact-Tracing Apps and Networks

Monday, May 4th, 2020
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today filed an Application with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) requesting oversight of pandemic "contact-tracing" apps and network services that may be offered for Canadians to download to their smartphones. The Application requests that the CRTC ensure that all Canadian telecommunications service providers’ involvement in potential or actual pandemic contact-tracing for public health purposes is in accordance with privacy requirements under Canada's telecommunications legislation. PIAC Executive Director John Lawford stated: "PIAC is seeking oversight, clarity and transparency from the CRTC so that Canadians know what role their mobile wireless service providers and home internet providers may play in COVID-19 tracking and that they appropriately safeguard privacy while not in any way impeding appropriate public health measures."

Canadian Consumers Demand Internet, Wireless COVID-19 Relief

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020
OTTAWA, April 7, 2020 – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), ACORN Canada (ACORN) and the National Pensioners Federation (NPF) together called today for the Federal government, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Canada’s Internet service providers (ISPs) and Wireless Service Providers (WSPs) to do more for Canadians.  Their list of demands includes calls for unlimited internet access and low-income Internet and wireless plans to help all Canadians stay connected while isolating at home. “Canadian government has told Canadians to stay at home which we are doing,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC.  “But this means that Canadians must have affordable Internet and wireless service to survive and stay informed. We demand that the government, the CRTC and ISPs and WSPs do more for all Canadians,” he added.

PIAC Welcomes COVID-19 Responses by Internet Service Providers, Wireless – UPDATED 14 April 2020

Monday, March 16th, 2020
See embedded summary of major Canadian ISPs' and WSPs' policies, UPDATED TO 6 April 2020 - The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today (16 March 2020) welcomed recent announcements from major Canadian retail Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to suspend data overage fees for at least some time to assist Canadians with remaining connected during the present corona virus (COVID-19) outbreak. "We commend the Canadian industry for leading on consumer access to the Internet during this crucial time," said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. "Communications will be crucial in this fight against the virus and we encourage all telecommunications service providers to adopt similar policies, including payment flexibility and to consider adding other services, such as wireless, to their unlimited access policies," he added. PIAC has produced a summary of major Canadian ISPs policies, in their own words and with direct links to their responses.

CRTC to Consumers: “No More Paper Bills”

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and National Pensioners Federation (NPF) today lamented the unfathomable decision of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) not to require wireless carrier Koodo to provide customers with a paper bill. "Consumers have the legal right to a paper bill. The Telecommunications Act clearly requires customers be provided with a paper bill," said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel at PIAC.  "We cannot understand how the CRTC misinterpreted the law.  This decision will cost millions of wireless, home phone and Internet consumers dearly in missed payments, inconvenience and chaos."

PIAC applauds BTLR call to improve affordability, access of internet and wireless in Canada, signals caution on broadcasting

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) today welcomed the Report of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel (BTLR) that recommended  measures to increase access to affordable home internet and mobile wireless service in Canada. “Canadians can now expect that government will assure they can actually receive, and afford, mobile wireless and home Internet service,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. “The Report recognizes that to live in this society, you have to be connected.” The Report also recommends changes to the Broadcasting Act to ensure continued creation of Canadian content.  While the goal of these changes is laudable, the potential impact on consumers is unknown. “PIAC will closely monitor pricing developments and advance the consumer interest during this transition to increased regulation of online content in Canada,” Lawford added.

Increasing Consumer Worries and Woes – CCTS Annual Report

Thursday, November 28th, 2019
The Annual Report 2018-19 of the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) released today shows an increase of 35% in consumer complaints for all communications services compared to last year. Wireless problems continue to lead the pack by service type, rising 53% over last years’ complaints and constituting more than 40% of all communications complaints.  Leading issues in wireless are billing and contract disputes, despite the protections of the Wireless Code; a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) “Report on Misleading or Aggressive Communications Retail Sales Practices”; and high retail pricing compared to other comparable countries, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) noted. “The Wireless industry is being reviewed by the CRTC right now. It is clear that billing, contracts and service standards are not meeting the reasonable expectations of Canadians,” said John Lawford, Executive Director and General Counsel of PIAC. “Canadians are increasingly frustrated by high costs of wireless service and the hassle of continued problems and so they are starting to complain.”
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