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Canadians need more cell phone plan choices: update from OpenMedia.ca

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There's some big news this week that could affect the future of choice and affordability when it comes to your cell phones.

The story behind the first item I want to mention starts back in 2008, when big telecom company Shaw was able to acquire resources that the government had set aside for startups and small companies looking to create new cell phone options for Canadians.

Now, Shaw of course is one of Canada's biggest telecom companies, but they would technically have been new to the wireless market, so they were able to take advantage of the government's attempt to create choice.

But now it's five years later, and not only has Shaw failed to provide Canadians with a new cell phone service, they're taking the resources they got as a "new entrant" and they're selling them to Canada's biggest cell phone company -- Rogers.

The long and short: Big Telecom took control of assets that were promised to create new independent choices, and are using them to give Big Telecom more control.

Pro-Internet community member Gagan Chhatwal said, in a Facebook comment, that big telecom companies "…form an oligopoly that is responsible for the Canadians having the highest internet rates, highest cell phone rates and highest cable rates [...] More competition is good…."

But there's hope. The Industry Minister is looking into this deal right now, and we've created an online tool at DemandChoice.ca where you can tell him to block it. Check it out, and tell him where Canadians stand so that Big Telecom lobbyists don't get their way.

In related news, the CRTC—Canada's telecom authority—has just released a draft of a code of conduct to protect cell phone users. This is a code that Canadians asked for, and that we're helping to shape by sharing our stories at CellPhoneHorrorStory.ca. While the CRTC's draft code isn't perfect, the OpenMedia Team is working overtime to make your voices heard by using your stories and comments to inform our policy work, and to create a report complete with recommendations for the CRTC, Industry Canada, and other key decision-makers.

So those are two very active campaigns: DemandChoice.ca and CellPhoneHorrorStory.ca. If you haven't already, take action now to fix our broken cell phone market, and help shape a digital future that's innovative, filled with choice, and grounded in Canadians' lived realities.

For the Internet, this is Lindsey with OpenMedia.ca signing off.

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