The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) public hearing on wireless services continues, and today Vancouver-based non-profit, OpenMedia, is testifying in front of the Commission.
Laura Tribe, executive director at OpenMedia, was joined alongside Matt Hatfield, campaigns director and Rodrigo Samayoa, digital rights campaigner at the organization.
OpenMedia says in order to combat high mobile prices in Canada, they have a three-part plan to address it, specifically: “mandate full MVNOs, mandate low cost plans for all Cdns on national brands, and adopt wholesale spectrum access with fair and reasonable rates.”
A recent survey by OpenMedia saw 85% of respondents say high prices are a barrier to wireless use. This is because of lack of competition, explains OpenMedia, and to solve this, “full MVNO access” should be made available to bring on new entrants.
Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) would essentially rent network capacity from incumbents and resell them directly to consumers, spurring competition.
“Do not give into the threats from the Big Three who say they will slash jobs and investment if the CRTC acts. We need bold policy reform now,” explained OpenMedia.
The consumer advocate also said unlimited plans in Canada are not truly unlimited, but rather throttled. They mentioned how Australia has unlimited plans for half the price of those in Canada and with better service.
In terms of low cost plans, OpenMedia proposed a $20/4GB plan, which they believe would be the “projected average usage” and made available to all.
When pushed back about the Telus Connecting Families plan, OpenMedia responded, “We don’t want to leave it to Big Telecom to decide who needs access to low cost service. That’s why the CRTC needs to go beyond the voluntary offerings and make low cost plans available to everyone.”
OpenMedia was asked about the threats from the Big 3 about reducing investment if MVNOs were mandated. The non-profit said “when wholesale wireline access was mandated, they made the same threats, but the reduced investment never came to fruition. The benefits include reduced cost from network sharing.”
For 5G, if incumbents want to delay or slow 5G investment, others would step up to build a network, such as regional and other players.
Update: Telus says the Connecting Families plan is decided by the federal government and not telecoms. According to the Government of Canada, “The Connecting Families initiative has been designed to connect hundreds of thousands of low-income Canadian families to the Internet. Participating Internet Service Providers are voluntarily contributing to the initiative by offering $10 Internet service (plus tax) to eligible families who currently receive the maximum Canada Child Benefit.”
…more to follow