More Cell Phone Fees for Canadians

This is exactly what we at OpenMedia.ca were afraid would happen. It looks like we’re about to see new texting charges imposed on our telecom bills for no reason. Telus has already sent a message to customers announcing an arbitrary new fee on text messages that cross the Canada-U.S. border. It’s a cash grab and everyone knows it, but we can stop Big Telecom’s new fees if you raise your voice now.

Big telecom companies can only price-gouge us like this because the government refuses to enforce its own rules. As the Globe and Mail recently revealed, Big Telecom giant Rogers Communications is trying to obtain scarce wireless assets from Shaw that were originally set aside for new affordable telecom options for Canadians. This takeover is in clear conflict with both the letter and spirit of Industry Canada rules, which are supposed to ensure we have access to affordable independent telecom options.

OpenMedia.ca joined experts and advocates to send a letter to Industry Minister Christian Paradis about Rogers’ plan to break those rules by obtaining set-aside wireless assets. While Paradis is feeling the pressure from Canadians and signaling discomfort with the Shaw-Rogers deal, he has so far refused to enforce his government’s own rules to stop the appropriation of these important wireless assets.

This is only the beginning. The Industry Minister’s inaction has left a vacuum for Big Telecom to act with impunity, and as Big Telecom conglomerates often mimic each others’ price-gouging we can expect providers to add new fees across the board if we don’t speak up.

As if these threats weren’t enough, it seems that all three of Canada’s major independent mobile providers are now up for sale, and Telus is even making moves to take over Mobilicity.

Canadian families and businesses already pay some of the highest prices in the industrialized world for some of the worst service. Our country simply cannot afford to have three mobile telecom giants indiscriminately breaking government rules, so that they have the power to impose new fees on Canadians at will. Big Telecom is destroying Canadians’ freedom to choose low-cost independent cell phone options so they can unilaterally add new fees to your bill at any time. But you can stop them.

Please take a moment to send a message to all the party leaders (including Stephen Harper) now. We know that if the party leaders hear your voice right now it could tip the balance and force the government into action.

By Catherine Hart

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