Archives for CRTC

The CRTC will not take a stand against content piracy

Schooley Mitchell complaintsAccording to The Chronicle Herald, the FairPlay Canada coalition – a group of media organizations that includes Bell Canada, Rogers, the CBC, and more – was shut down by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in its effort to fight “content pirates.” On Tuesday, October 2nd the CRTC said it does not have the authority to police the activities that FairPlay Canada is fighting against.

FairPlay Canada originally asked the CRTC for help back in January of 2018. The coalition wanted the CRTC to “help protect their ownership and licensing rights by setting up an independent agency to help locate websites with pirated material.”  The Chronicle Herald explains that the coalition “also wanted the CRTC to require internet providers to block access to pirated material.”

The CRTC said in is ruling that is agrees “piracy causes harm to the Canadian broadcasting system and the economy” but unfortunately it does not have the jurisdiction to intervene under the Copyright Act.

“There are other avenues that are more suitable to address this issue, such as the reviews of the Copyright Act, the Telecommunications Act and the Broadcasting Act,” the commission decided.

Source: thechronicleherald.ca – CRTC rejects call to block content pirates, cites lack of jurisdiction
Published: October 2, 2018

CRTC will phase out its support of local phones in hard to serve regions

Schooley Mitchell complaintsThe Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commissions spends millions of dollars each year to subsidize the cost of maintaining telephone lines . Now, the commission says it will begin phasing out that subsidy over the next couple of years to focus instead on helping hard-to-serve regions connect to broadband. According to the The Financial Post, this decision will eliminate “nearly $116 million in subsidies for local telephone service[s].”

Starting January 1st, 2019, the subsidies will be phased out semi-annually. By December 31st, 2020, the subsidies will completely end for local phone service.

In 2016, the CRTC made the decision to label broadband as a basic service, as crucial as telephone or television. Now, clearly it sees broadband as the “more critical connection.” As The Financial Post explains, “Its preliminary view was that if a person can reliably access the internet, over which they can use voice services, there is no need to subsidize residential phone lines.”

Who actually pays for these subsidies? Believe it or not, a lot of the money comes from carriers. Providers “with more than $10 million in annual revenue must contribute to a national fund that is distributed to incumbent local exchange carriers serving rural and remote areas where the monthly costs to provide service are higher than revenue.”

Not everyone is happy with this move. Opposition has bubbled up from SaskTel, Telus Corp, and Eastlink, among others, who say carriers “have the obligation to serve customers in high-cost areas, but without the subsidy could not do so with rates that are just and reasonable.”

Source: www.financialpost.com – CRTC to phase out $115 million in local phone subsidies by 2021
Published: June 26, 2018

CRTC rejects consumer complaints of aggressive telcos

Ottawa-based consumer advocacy group, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), is speaking out against the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) recent refusal to hold a public inquiry into claims of aggressive and misleading sales practices by a number of the country’s leading telecoms. While the CRTC says there is no need for this inquiry, PIAC says the decision ultimately hurts Canadian consumers.

“CRTC throws to telco sales dogs,” accused PIAC’s executive director, John Lawford, in a statement. “The CRTC refusal to inquire into the shocking sales practices of Canada’s major telecommunications and broadcasting companies says to consumers, ‘You’re on your own.’”

The PIAC made the request to the CRTC in January, after CBC GO Public reported that it had heard from “from more than 200 past and present employees — mostly working for Bell and Rogers — describing intense pressure to mislead, lie and trick consumers in order to hit unrealistic sales targets.”

One Rogers employee admitted to not telling elderly customers about added fees and to sneaking extra products or services on their bills. Employees weren’t the only ones to come forward; CBC says over 300 customers have reached out as well. A woman in Oshawa, Ontario complained that Bell was charging her in-laws for internet service without their knowledge or express consent. So why, PIAC wants to know, did the CRTC refuse to hold an inquiry?

The commission stated in its rejection letter that Canadians already have “well-established and effective mechanisms to resolve issues with their [telecoms].”

While this is partially true – for example, consumers can complain to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services (CCTS), which is an independent telecom ombudsman – there still will not be major change in the industry without the CRTC’s compliance. As Lawford points out, “Only the CRTC has the regulatory authority to ask the industry to change practices.”

​Source: CBC.ca – CRTC rejects call for public inquiry into aggressive telecom sales practices
Published: February 21, 2018

Should the CRTC Get Out of Telecom?

Schooley Mitchell complaintsFederal Conservative Party leadership candidate Maxime Bernier thinks the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) should be cut out of the telecom business. He said the agency has a “control freak mindset” which impedes investment and sustainable competition. Bernier is known as a long-time advocate for telecom deregulation.

“It’s not the role of the CRTC or the government to decide how this increasingly complex market should evolve,” Bernier was quoted as saying. “It’s up to the producers and consumers.”

How would deregulation even begin? Bernier believes the federal Department of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development could take over the CRTC’s more necessary telecom functions, such as 911 and the do-not-call list. He suggested reversing policies that allow preferential set-asides of airwave spectrum. He would also scrap last year’s decision to force major telecom providers to sell space on their high-speed networks to smaller rivals.

“Forcing some providers to share their networks will not do anything to increase investments, and ultimately won’t do anything to sustainably bring better and less expensive services to consumers,” said Bernier.

However, the decision in question was hailed by advocacy groups such as OpenMedia.ca, who called it the “first step towards ensuring small independent ISPs are able to sell fibre internet in Canada, which should expand access and affordability to users.”

While Bernier may not be completely right, he is not completely wrong either. Canada has some of the most expensive service prices, and companies like Bell and Rogers have a large monopoly on the telecom market. So does the CRTC need to be phased out or just reformed?

*Source: The Toronto Star

Canadian Commissioner to Hear Television Service Complaints

Schooley Mitchell complaintsCanadian consumers with television service complaints will soon be able to turn to the Commission for Complaints for Telecommunication Services (CCTS) for help. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced last week that television service providers would have until Sept. 1, 2017 to become members of the CCTS.

This means the CCTS is now the single point of contact for complaints about all major services, including television, Internet, wireless and landline telephone. Consumers concerned with things such as billing and service delivery are asked to first contact their provider for attempted resolution before filing to the CCTS.

“Since 2007, the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services has been providing a valuable service to Canadian consumers of telecommunications services by helping them resolve their complaints,” said CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais, in a press release. “With an increasing number of Canadians taking advantage of bundled offers including local voice, wireless, Internet, and television services offered by the same communications service provider, ensuring a single point of contact to deal with their complaints has never been more important.”

Read the full press release on the CRTC website.

ISPs Won’t Get Chance to Offer Discounted Wireless

Schooley Mitchell complaintsA recent Canadian Radio-television Commission (CRTC) ruling likely means high cellphone bills are here to stay in Canada. Last week, the CRTC ruled against a coalition of small ISPs interested in offering steeply discounted wireless services.

The ISPs – known as the Canadian Network Operators Consortium – hoped to rent the networks of the big Canadian telcos, allowing them to offer alternative, inexpensive services. However, the CRTC says such a move wouldn’t be fair to the companies that have invested in their own networks, such as Bell, Rogers and Telus.

One thing is clear: it’s unlikely Canadians will benefit from a wave of new competition in the wireless industry anytime soon. According to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Report, Canadians pay some of the highest rates in the developed world, an average of $46 US per month. It’s not a coincidence Canadian carriers are also making some of the biggest profits in the world.

*Source: CBC

Rogers Fined for Violating Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

crtc_logoRogers is the latest company to be nailed for violating Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) for issues surrounding its email unsubscribe mechanism.

According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), emails sent by Rogers during a one-year period starting July 2014 – the same month CASL came into effect – had a faulty unsubscribe mechanism.

“During this period, the company allegedly sent commercial emails containing an unsubscribe mechanism that did not function properly or which could not be readily performed by the recipient,” states a CRTC press release. “In addition, in some instances, the electronic address used to unsubscribe was allegedly not valid for the required minimum of 60 days following the sent message.”

The CRTC also said that Rogers failed to unsubscribe recipients from commercial emails within 10 days of receiving notice. All in all, the violations have set Rogers back $200,000 in a voluntary undertaking to resolve the offences. Efforts include improvements to an existing internal program to ensure compliance with CASL, which is probably a good thing since it doesn’t seem it was doing a very effective job from the start.

“Companies must respect the choices of Canadians who do not wish to receive commercial emails, and must make it easy for them to unsubscribe from their mailing lists,” said Manon Bombardier, CRTC chief compliance and enforcement officer, in the press release. “We are satisfied that Rogers Media Inc. made the necessary changes to comply with Canada’s anti-spam law.

Today’s announcement is a direct result of the information provided by Canadians and we continue to encourage them to report suspected violations to the Spam Reporting Centre.”

And it appears Canadians have been doing just that. Since 2014, $400,000 in undertakings and $1.1 million in fines have been collected for violations of the legislation.

CRTC options to protect against unwanted calls

Stepping up in its fight against unwanted and spoofed calls, the CRTC recently published a thorough summary of options Canadians have to protect themselves from the nuisance communications. The list, which outlines the method of blocking and filtering calls by provider, was compiled from information provided to the CRTC direct from the telecom companies.

It is the first step on the CRTC’s quest to discover “new and innovative solutions” to combat unsolicited telemarketing and spoofed calls. Now the agency is asking any interested parties to review the summary of options and submit comments by Dec. 4.

The CRTC estimates up to 40 percent of unwanted marketing calls come from spoofed numbers.

Agency May Soon Oversee Cable TV Complaints

Schooley Mitchell complaintsAre you a Canadian with a telecom complaint? If you’re mad and informed enough you may take it all the way to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS). If you don’t know about this watchdog, you should: the CCTS handles over 10,000 complaints per year and can force providers to pay consumers up to $5,000 in the event of a billing error.

That’s $5,000 in compensation over and above the amount of the error to be refunded. Have we told you some studies show up to 80 percent of telecom bills contain errors? Do the math. I bet you’re paying attention now.

While the CCTS has acted as official ombudsman over the telecom industry, its role may be widening. Depending on the outcome of a public hearing that starts today, cable television providers may soon join the list of industries the CCTS is charged with monitoring. The hearing, hosted by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), also allows for public input via online forum until Nov. 9.

“While our public hearing is being held in the National Capital Region, the room itself stretches from coast-to-coast-to-coast to include all Canadians,” said CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais, in a press release.

“The Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services plays an important role in a competitive marketplace, and is a resource for those who have experienced problems with their service providers. We invite Canadians to share their views throughout the public hearing to help us make decisions that are in the public interest.”

Complaints Lead to $170,000 Fine

CRTC Wireless CodeHere at Schooley Mitchell complaints are nothing new. We hear them about poor telecom services and vendors all the time! One of the most annoying things that continues to plague families is receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls. They always seem to come at the most inopportune time, like when you are sitting down to dinner or have your hands full.

In Canada, two home improvement companies are facing hefty fines for doing just that – calling residents who had registered their phone numbers on the national Do Not Call List (DNCL). The rules state that once someone signs up on the list, all unsolicited communications must cease, except for calls from a few groups including charities, political parties, and businesses you’ve worked with within the last 18 months. However, Canadian Choice Home Improvements Inc. and Le Groupe Hydro Hvac Inc. ignored all of that, resulting in $170,000 in fines.

According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), neither company registered or subscribed to the DNCL. Both called residential numbers on the list, and Le Groupe Hydro Hvac also called existing customers who had registered on its own internal do not call list.

Canadian Choice Improvements faced the heftiest fine, paying $140,000. The company has now decided to cease all telemarketing efforts in the future. Le Groupe Hydro’s portion was $30,000 and it has agreed to institute a compliance program moving forward to ensure history does not repeat itself.

Hundreds of complaints

Since the DNCL launched in 2008, nearly 13 million phone numbers have been added, with over $6.5 million in fines collected in violations to date. It doesn’t matter if the company itself or a third-party firm is making the calls on its behalf, or if the calls originate in Canada.

“Canadians play an important role in our investigations of unwanted telemarketing calls by providing clear and complete information when filing a complaint. In this case, their information assisted us in bringing these two companies to conform to the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules,” said Manon Bombardier, CRTC chief compliance and enforcement officer, in a press release. “Today’s announcement is another reminder to all telemarketers that compliance with the rules is not optional.”

The CRTC will continue to enhance its monitoring program and encourages consumers to report any nuisance calls they may receive.

Government’s wireless promises fall short?

cell phone rates

You hear plenty of promises from our political leaders. Government reform, tax cuts, foreign policy and spending, the list goes on and on. But how often do you hear a political party pledge to tackle your growing mobile phone bill?

In 2008, Canada’s Conservative government did just that. And now, in the midst of a federal election campaign, its failure to make real gains is drawing the ire of consumer advocacy groups.

“The Conservative government’s plan to increase cellphone affordability has been half-measured and ineffective,” fired Steve Anderson, director of Open Media, in a recent Toronto Star story.

“Despite years of assurances that prices would come down, the government’s own report confirmed that prices have once again gone up … leaving Canadians paying some of the highest prices in the industrialized world.”

Back in 2007, a study found that Canadians were pay a considerable amount for their cellphones – in a list of 30 members, the Great White North ranked fifth when it came to high rates.

According to the Star, not much has changed. The average Canadian bill is $46.58, compared to Europe, where the bill is $20.59. Bank of America Merrill Lynch has pegged the Canadian carrier profit margin at 46 per cent.

The Conservatives have pledged to continue their push for increased competition in the wireless sector. Only time will tell if they’ll be successful.