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It's ridiculous that Canada’s Big Telecom giants are going to Federal Court to delay new cell phone rules

Big Telecom’s last-ditch effort to delay new cell phone rules has sparked condemnation from Canadians across the political spectrum. It’s now time to look past the closed, old-fashioned model Big Telecom represents, to build an open digital future for all Canadians.

As you probably know, the Big Three mobile providers (Rogers, Telus, and Bell), joined by SaskTel and MTS, have announced they are taking on the CRTC and Canadians in court to delay much-welcomed changes to cell phone contract lengths.

Why? In response to popular demand from Canadians, the CRTC created rules that will limit contracts to two years. They set the unambitious and entirely reasonable start date of December 2013 for all new contracts and June 2015 for all existing contracts. Despite the fact that Bell, Rogers, and Telus are making record profits and were given two years to prepare, they’re still determined to lock Canadians into expensive contracts as long as they can.

Now Big Telecom is whining to the Federal Court of Appeals in an effort to delay contract changes that put Canada on par with our global counterparts, showing just how out of control their sense of entitlement has become.

Here’s what you need to know:

Despite Big Telecom’s claim that they are merely trying to ‘clarify’ the new rules, their court challenge will affect a lot of people. If they get their way, every Canadian who has signed up to a cell phone contract in the last year, or who intends to sign one before December, will be forced to remain in that contract beyond June 2015, or pay a hefty cancellation fee. This clearly goes against the letter and spirit of the CRTC’s new rules.  

It’s also entirely reasonable for wealthy telecom giants to find a way to comply with the rules by June 2015 - but it gets worse. Internet policy expert Michael Geist points out that the big cell phone providers themselves told the CRTC they should be able to implement these new rules “within two years”. Jean-François Mezei (@jfmezei) also pointed out on Twitter how Big Telecom likely hopes the delay will help them impose three-year contracts through the busy back-to-school and pre-winter holiday periods when new high-demand phones will become available.

In other words, despite their record profits, the big cell phone providers have decided that they suddenly can’t comply in time because they want to retain control for as long as possible.

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