In my March 14th MP report I touched on the subject of Canada’s wireless communication industry and the fact that Canadian consumers pay some of the highest wireless communication rates worldwide. In the same report I also covered many of the initiatives that our Government has introduced or is in the process of bringing forward to help stimulate wireless provider competition and improve availability in many markets across Canada. In response to that report I received a number of comments from citizens who were generally encouraged that government is taking a more active role to increase competition and encourage greater access along with more competitive pricing. Following that report I also had a meeting to hear directly from representatives of the Canadian wireless industry who also passed on some information that may be of interest.
According to the Canadian wireless industry roughly 99% of Canada’s population now has access to wireless service that is 3G or faster, in fact there are now more wireless connections in Canada than wired. The largest growing demographic of smartphone users is between 18-34 years old– who make up 74% of all Canadian users. On average traffic on some Canadian wireless networks is growing by 5% per week with over 274 million text messages sent per day. As for the Canadian wireless industry, it now employs more than 261,000 people and contributes in excess of $40 billion annually to the Canadian economy. In terms of investment, nearly $24 billion has been invested in wireless infrastructure over the past decade. It is estimated that by 2014 more people will connect to the internet via a mobile device than a conventional desktop computer. At the same time for users over 55 years of age smartphone use is expected to increase from roughly 17% of the population to close to 30%. Clearly the Canadian wireless industry is a fast growing one involving more and more Canadians of all age groups. It is for these reasons that many might take interest in the newly announced CRTC wireless industry code that will bring new rights to Canadian wireless consumers.
Changes to “The Code” as it is referred to, will include the ability to cancel your contract at no cost after a maximum of two years, the ability to cancel your contract and return your phone at no cost, within 15 days (and specific usage limits), if you are unhappy with the service, to be able to have your phone unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if you paid in full for your phone. Also included is the option to have your service suspended at no cost if your phone is lost or stolen, to receive a notification when you are roaming in a different country, disclosing what the rates are for voice services, text messages, and data usage, to limit your data overage charges to $50 a month and your data roaming charges to $100 a month and to pay no extra charges for a service described as “unlimited”. You may also refuse a change to the key terms and conditions of your contract, including the services in your contract, the price for those services, and the duration of your contract. The above changes in some cases apply differently to pre-paid wireless services and all of the changes do not come into effect until later this year on December 2nd of 2013. If you have further questions or comments on these changes please do not hesitate to contact me directly.
Debate in Ottawa this week will include the following Government Bills C-60 “Economic Action Plan 2013” and Bill C-51 “Safer Witnesses Act”. Senate Bills S-2 “Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act” and S-17 “Tax Conventions Implementation Act, 2013” Private Members Bills this week will include Bill C-419 “An Act respecting language skills” and Bill C-478 “Respecting Families of Murdered and Brutalized Persons Act” If you have comments, questions or concerns on these or any Bill before the House of Commons please contact me toll free at 1-800-665-8711 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.