Apr 4, 2012 – 2:22 PM ET | Last Updated: Apr 4, 2012 3:23 PM ETThe Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission began accepting views from the public Wednesday on whether the country’s wireless sector will require formal regulation to stay competitive.
Canada’s national telecom regulator decided in 1994 there was “enough competition in the marketplace to guide the industry’s growth and provide Canadian consumers with a choice of innovative services,” the CRTC said in a release. However, the wireless market looks dramatically different 18 years later.
Wind Mobile, Mobilicity and other new entrants into the market in recent years have attempted to counter the growing dominance of the country’s three largest carriers — BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada unit, Rogers Communications Inc. and Telus Corp. — with little corresponding effect on average monthly subscription fees. Ottawa’s recent attempt to bolster smaller players by offering them more access to the wireless spectrum has done little to assuage long standing perceptions of an increasingly uneven playing field.
Groups such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have been decrying Canadian wireless prices as being among the highest in the developed world for years. The SeaBoard Group, a Montreal-based research firm, released a 42-page study two months ago urging the federal government to ramp up wireless competition or face continually higher prices paired with continually lower quality of service.
“Our practice has been to rely on market forces as long as we are convinced that the interests of consumers will be looked after,” Leonard Katz, who became acting CRTC chairman in January following the departure of longtime chair Konrad von Finckenstein, said in a release.
“In this case, we are seeking evidence that our intervention is necessary before considering the development of a national wireless code.”
Comments can be submitted online or in writing either by mailing the CRTC’s Secretary General in Ottawa, Ont. (postal code K1A 0N2) or by fax to 819-994-0218. The commission will only review submissions it receives by May 3 and will publish a decision on the issue by mid-September.